For Althea Johnson, founder of Propr Life+Style, the wonders of K-Beauty products have been life-altering. When she first discovered this range of scientifically researched, naturally beneficial South Korean skincare during a vacation, it was largely a curiosity within the Canadian market. We recently spoke with Johnson about the unique remedial qualities of K-Beauty and its constant innovations, as well as the singular methods Propr Life+Style is taking to communicate directly with its customers.
What about its beauty philosophy resonates with you?
“The Korean skincare philosophy is about approaching the skin in a gentle and soothing way. The key is layering lightly formulated, hydrating products. The way they combine traditional ingredients (used for hundreds of years) with innovative new technology fascinated me.”
How do K-Beauty products differ from those more readily available in the global skincare market?
“The Korean skincare industry is 10 years ahead of the rest of the world. A higher percentage of profits are placed back into innovation and research to improve product effectiveness and performance.”
When did the idea for Propr Life+Style come about?
“I decided to venture out on my own and leave my previous career in pharmaceutical sales after 22 years in the industry. Propr Life+Style initially started as a fashion and travel blog—I needed to take my time to see what I wanted to do next, so I travelled a lot and documented my experiences to get inspiration. I had a trip planned to Seoul in August 2017 with my nieces and we turned it into a research excursion by hitting up as many skincare shops as we could find. The more we learned, the more we fell in love with Korean products.
“Once I was back home and wanted to re-order products, I discovered I could only order online directly from South Korea or with an American site, which meant paying duties. K-Beauty was still very new to the Canadian market, which is when I decided to launch Propr Life+Style Korean Skincare online in November of 2017. I then opened my Toronto retail store in March 2020. With the physical location, I can help customers navigate through and integrate Korean skincare products into their routines based on specific skin goals.
Was it a bit daunting at first entering an industry saturated with mega-conglomerates that may make it harder for independent ventures to thrive?
“There are times when being a bit naïve to what you are up against serves as an advantage. The business idea was passion driven. The more I researched the industry and trends, the more I saw the potential for how the Canadian skincare market would benefit from these innovations.
“I grew a list of key Korean business contacts and attended skincare conferences in South Korea. At that time, Canada was lagging on the global K-Beauty phenomenon that was happening in Russia, India, Western/Eastern Europe, and the U.S.A. The welcoming feedback I received from the brands and distributors also helped. They were happy to do business with me and negotiate terms based on my needs as a startup. Their industry was still working hard to extend brand awareness into emerging markets like Canada.”
How important is it for you, the owner of Propr Life+Style, to directly connect to consumers in unique ways through your various social media channels? Do you see this as the future of the beauty industry going forward?
“Social media has always been a major part of growing my K-Beauty community. It allows me to inform consumers, answer questions, and receive feedback . COVID-19 re-introduced me on how to connect with consumers on a much more personal level, leading to significant growth in business and reach. It will be interesting to see how social media will evolve for the beauty industry going forward, but I think the consumer will dictate the flow of communication on these platforms, allowing us to listen more and respond accordingly.”
Althea Johnson, founder of Propr Life+Style
What are some essential skincare products that any individual should have readily available in their medicine cabinets?
“A gentle low pH cleanser, hydrating essence toner, and face cream. Pimple patches and sunscreen should also be at hand.”
Are there any omnipotent skincare myths in the beauty industry that you’d like to debunk?
“Oily skin types cannot use face oils, and that men and women need to use different skincare products.”