This interview was originally featured in Total Retail's sister brand, The Women in Retail Leadership Circle.
Melissa Campanelli: Tell me about your background.
Victoria Tsai: When I was young, my mother ran a luxury skincare boutique. I was fascinated by the expensive and beautifully packaged products on the shelves, but we never used them. Instead, my mother created our skincare products in the kitchen. Decades later, I worked for one of the big beauty companies and ended up with acute dermatitis on my face — bleeding, blistering, cracking and peeling all over. It was hard to look people in the eye. Two years of oral and topical antibiotics and steroids eventually got my skin under control, but the doctors said it would never be the same. I began traveling in search of a better approach to skincare, and found myself in Kyoto.
MC: Why did you decide to start Tatcha, and what does the name mean?
VT: When I traveled to Japan and tried the timeless ingredients and rituals they use, it gave me my skin back. Part of the reason I created Tatcha was to share this with others, and part of it was so I would always have it for myself! The name is derived from tachibana, the classical Japanese art of flower arranging that features a single "standing flower," representing the beauty of simplicity. This philosophy is behind our approach in creating pure, naturally powered formulas.
MC: What types of products does Tatcha sell?
VT: We bring new life to beauty and skincare rituals that have been used in Japan for centuries. We work with scientists in Japan to create each formula from scratch, like a couture dress, using pure ingredients that are minimally manipulated for maximum efficacy.
MC: Why do you believe Tatcha products are important to men and women? What do they offer that's different from what's on the market now?
VT: For a long time, the skincare that I used was working against my skin instead of with it. I would use an aggressive, alcohol-based cleanser that stripped moisture from my skin, then overload it with heavy creams or butters to try and make up for it. When we create formulas at Tatcha, the idea is to work with the skin, not against it. We use ingredients that have been beloved for centuries and keep the formulas pure and minimalist for radiant, baby-soft skin.
MC: How does Tatcha sell and market its products?
VT: The collection is available in QVC, Sephora and Sephora.com, Tatcha.com, Barneys New York, Mecca in Australia, and Joyce Beauty in Hong Kong.
MC: Do you work with influencers or use any other social media tactics?
VT: We've been very fortunate to have developed friendships with some wonderful online influencers. We also can't say enough good things about Tribe Dynamics; its tools make it very efficient to keep our social media activities organized.
MC: What advice would you give to women thinking about starting their own businesses?
VT: Do your homework, love your products and love your clients. Everything else will follow.
MC: What’s next for Tatcha? What are your goals for 2018?
VT: I don't think as much about annual goals, but more about improving every day. There's a Japanese term that I love: "kaizen." It translates to "continuous improvement," something I strive for every day.