Tatcha modern day geisha

Underdog boss ladies, part II: Vicky Tsai / Tatcha

I don’t know cosmetics, I have no patience researching it. I just follow what Janet/Naomi slap on their face and then I copy it. I never heard about Tatcha, but learnt that their products are inspired by what Geisha’s use in their skincare routine and Kim K and Princess/Duchess/Rachel Zane/ Meghan Markle are fans.

Tatcha was built by Taiwanese Vicky Tsai and recently sold to Unilever for $500 million dollars (in comparison: that’s 0.66% of Uber’s $75 billion valuation/ 50% of Spanx’/Classpass’ $1 billion valuation/ 5000% of our average Jane’s savings).

Tsai grew impatient spending her waking hours working on things she didn’t believe in/wasn’t appreciated for: she was a trader @ Wall Street/did business development @ Starbucks/director @ Silicon Valley startup. She also worked like a maniac on expanding Starbucks to China, even had the CEO Howard Schultz call and compliment her. But also had a manager who gave her a “Meets Expectations” review, so she left. She also

– accumulated $1 million in student loan and credit card debt
– was told that consumers wouldn’t be interested in beauty products from Asia by American counterparts / told by Japanese insiders that the products she was after for were “outdated
– was told multiple times she was unfit to run her company, multiple times.

Tsai mentions she felt broken at one moment in time: she didn’t believe in anything anymore, questioned her value system (=Asian value system=be doctor/lawyer, make money and be good) and quite literally hit rock bottom. Her story is about perseverance and timing. She has one message to all girls out there: “It’s definitely not intelligence, you just need to show up every day. If shé can do it, everyone can do it.”

She also pursued her boyfriend by calling/e-mailing him for months while he was definitely not interested and he finally “just gave in”.

Boss level: 9/10 for walking away from average managers
Listen to her story / Tatcha
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Illustration by Harumi Hironaka

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