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SPOTLIGHT ON SALLY:
Sally is a Korean American author and entrepreneur who discovered the power of ingestible skincare after severely burning herself. She started drinking collagen to help with recovery, and after falling in love with it, she embarked on a journey to bring collagen to everyone around her. She began formulating with her favorite superfoods to make delicious collagen-infused drinks known as Crushed Tonic. Sally has also published the book “The Collagen Glow” (found at Barnes & Nobles, Target & Amazon). Crushed Tonic is loved by Allure, Sephora, Equinox, Jetblue, KITH, Well And Good, and more!
WHAT’S CRUSHED TONIC?
Crushed Tonic is an anti-aging ingestible skincare beverage brand formulated with collagen and other superfoods/ supplements (like probiotics, biotin, coffee / matcha / turmeric / lucuma). Crushed Tonic drinks are clinically proven for their health benefits on skin, hair, and whole-body health. Drinking these superfood-infused elixirs everyday will renew and rejuvenate you from the inside out.
Drinking Crushed Tonic for 30 days can plump your skin, strengthen your hair, strengthen digestion + immunity, and boost your mind.
Sally: Growing up in Korea, I was surrounded by seas of lotions, creams and moisturizers everywhere I went; therefore, I never second-guessed the importance of skincare. However, despite all the craze today around the ten-step Korean skincare regimen, the ubiquity of topical products after products, all of the different ingredients popping up (from snail oil to gold-infused creme), the only Korean Skincare ritual that my family has passed down to me, the only regimen I’ve strictly ingrained into my lifestyle, is the one spoken about the least: the Korean diet.
For those who have never had Korean food, Korean cuisine is always a balanced meal of collagen*-dense protein dishes (i.e. fish or pork/chicken barbecue with skin on) and rice (never bread), with lots of various fermented vegetables such as kimchi, and dwen-jang (soybean) paste. Kimchi, a fermented, pickled cabbage perhaps the most iconic of our culture, is dense with minerals, vitamins A, B and C, fat-free and most importantly, loaded with probiotics, a gut-friendly bacteria that take shelter in your stomach once ingestion. And what probiotics do for our health and our skin, is almost immeasurable: our stomach, AKA the “second brain,” is actually the ruler of our overall health. And when our stomachs are off (i.e. IBS/ constipation/ diarrhea/ even just too much of the wrong food), our skin takes a beating almost immediately. With probiotics, our stomach is able to fend off a lot of what causes these problems, and therefore get our skin to its optimal condition.
*For those of you who aren’t familiar with collagen yet— collagen is a type of protein that all living, breathing animals—including humans—produce. It makes up our bones, muscles, skin, and hair. Think of them as gatekeepers of moisture in our cells; and without this collagen "wall" to keep our cells hydrated, our cells increasingly loose structure, leading to weaker, stretchier, and thinner skin. And of course, this is what causes wrinkles, fine lines, dry skin, cellulite, and the loss of structure in your hair follicles (integral to holding on to your hair). And unfortunately, time and our environment, such as pollution, smoking, eating fried foods, and more, cause our body produce less and less of it (a rate of 1.5% a year).
Ingesting collagen facilitates new regeneration of skin, muscle, bones and joint cells, something my mother and grandmother never let me forget if I ever decided to be picky with my food.
HOW HAS BEING ASIAN AND FEMALE IMPACTED YOUR JOURNEY IN BECOMING WHO YOU ARE TODAY?
Being a Korean American entrepreneur is one thing—being a Korean American female entrepreneur is another.
On being Korean— one of the hardest obstacles for me to overcome was that I had so much pushback from my parents who didn’t feel that being an entrepreneur was cut out for women. They came around ultimately, but it was definitely really difficult for me in the beginning because all I wanted was my parents’ support. I had to hide Crushed Tonic from them for a while and didn’t tell them that I quit my full time job to pursue my brand and book until months later. (Now, they tell me that not listening to them was the best thing I’ve ever done!)
And of course, being a female entrepreneur in general is another universe. There is inherent bias in the world of entrepreneurs: they expect you to be male. There was a time where I got to a meeting and everyone from the email chain was there, but they wouldn’t start. After I had told them I had a hard-stop in 45 minutes and we should probably start the meeting— they told me that they were just waiting for my boss to arrive. Turns out, they were waiting for “Sal” to arrive.
Something else that female entrepreneurs go through often is when potential investors and interviewers use meetings as a way of asking them out— I was once flat out asked if I was single. I really hope that as we evolve as a society, we can all make a concerted effort together to make sure that we are mindful of the little things that show bias toward female entrepreneurs!
Having said all of the above— I do feel lucky to be in the place that I am and am grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given despite the hardships!
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS AND WHAT ARE YOU PERSONALLY STRIVING FOR?
Success isn't quantified for me. Success is when I get to pursue my passion—when I get to create the things I want to create. The most amount of “success” I have ever felt was when reading reviews our clients have left us describing how our product has changed their lives for the better!
WAS THERE A MOMENT WHEN YOU ALMOST GAVE UP ON YOUR BUSINESSES, AND IF SO, WHAT HELPED YOU TO GET BACK ON TRACK?
Manufacturing— on many fronts.
First and foremost, as a new brand creating a new product, we had no idea that we would be selling out so quickly. We were so focused on what we would have to do if our products didn’t sell that we had no idea how to solve the problem of when we sold out too quickly. Of course, being out of stock sounds like a great problem to have—but upsetting our customers or risking a partnership with your dream retailer because you legitimately don’t have product or having to turn down magazine interviews because there’s nothing you can bring to showcase—was a bit tough to get through. I was literally counting down to like 1 stick of each flavor at one point!
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO BE PART OF THE GOLD RUSH PROGRAM?
When someone referred me to Gold Rush, I jumped at it!
It was more like, what reason is there NOT to join a network so amazing?
One of my personal passions is to deepen the connection I have with my roots and uplift others who come from similar backgrounds— and Goldrush let me do exactly that!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THE NEXT ROUND OF FOUNDERS/COHORTS?
Don’t just follow a brand from far away. Reach out to the founder—even if you’ve never met them—and offer to add value in some way without asking for anything in return. Don't be scared to reach out to those who have inspired you, and let them know exactly why you were inspired. They may or may not respond, but if they do, do your best to become absolutely invaluable to them. You will learn so much from simply watching and listening to them, and if they learn anything from you, you’re doing something right. There’s probably at least one way you can try to help them achieve their next goal, whatever it may be—and who knows—you may become so integral to their company that they ask you to come onboard. If that’s not the case, you can still garner a great relationship and get to personally work with your own source of inspiration.