Why Tower 28 Founder Amy Liu Risked It All For Her Brand

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

Black and white headshot of Amy Liu
Courtesy of Amy Liu

On this episode of the Behind Her Empire podcast, host Yasmin Nouri sat down with Amy Liu, the founder and CEO of Tower 28, an affordable, irritant-free beauty brand.

Before starting her own beauty brand, Liu worked as an executive for some of the biggest names in beauty: Smashbox, Kate Somerville and Josie Maran Cosmetics. Yet Liu, who has eczema, couldn’t use the products she had a hand in promoting.

The experience would inspire her to create an affordable beauty brand that is mindful of skin tones and textures, vegan and free of every known skin irritant.


A native Minnesotan, Liu is the child of immigrants. From a young age, she imagined herself following in her father’s footsteps by becoming an entrepreneur.

“My dad really loved what he did. But he felt all of it, you know, the highs and the lows,” she says, “So I think I have this background of seeing it, wanting it. … And then instead I think my answer was just to prepare for [risk].”

But when it was time to go to college, Liu felt lost.

“I had this idea of entrepreneurship,” she says, “That didn't really exist in a way that felt like it was achievable.”

Her cousin, a Harvard graduate, recommended majoring in consulting – but Liu knew her heart was not in it. Instead, she went to business school.

Yet it was only after working for other companies that she began to put her master’s degree in entrepreneurship into practice. By the time she founded Tower 28, she was 40, married, with three kids in private school and a mortgage.

“I think what really did happen was I got an opportunity, and… it felt like it would be crazy if I didn't chase it.”

Despite founding a clean beauty line that offers a wide range of skin tones, Liu would not consider herself a “makeup junkie.”

So, what motivated her to create a beauty brand that is vegan and free of every known skin irritant? The ability to see her product make others happy and confident.

“I think the thing I really love about makeup is makeup makes people happy. And it makes them feel more confident about themselves,” she says. “And I genuinely do believe that if you feel more confident, the way that you walk through the world is different. And your ability to do things and approach life is changed.”

Engagement and Production Intern Jojo Macaluso contributed to this post.

Hear more of the Behind Her Empire podcast. Subscribe on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radioor wherever you get your podcasts.

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