DRESS FOR SUCCESS
A well tailored suit such as Italian suit such as Cesare Attolini, Ermenegildo Zegna or Canali is quite often symbolic of refined men of power. As the American workforce defiantly moves forward into 2021, it is time to take note that modern suit conveys a positive message of power and strength— as its prime voice of elegance throughout the work week.
More to the point, it is to be worn with much distinguished pride as well as a strong sense of achievement —as the great American designer Ralph Lauren has proudly presented to American men for the last five decades with class and cool. Let’s face it, at the end of the day, you are dressing the part to gain the ultimate win!
On the infamous ladder to reaching for corporate ascension, dressing for success displays your worth and value while respecting your firm and your superiors. In hindsight, a crisp yet sharply-tailored monochromatic suit was unavoidably flooding the streets of days gone by.
In the past, there has long been an expectation of appropriate attire required in certain social settings, and however broken those borders may be, they shall never be forgotten. Just take a look these days at how renowned artistic director Kim Jones is modifying sleek distinguished looks at french fashion brand DIOR MEN. Perhaps now, one may only wear a suit for a special occasion. Exuding confidence is collectively attributed by physical appearance and the charismatic nature gained from this, forming an attractive and enticing appeal of accomplishment to those surrounding you.
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What is considered the modern-day suit was first introduced to society in the early 19th century and also marked a pinnacle moment for men and their newfound grooming routines. Self care and refinement in displaying their appearance would soon set the bar to a cleanly nurtured path ahead.
Where does dressing for success stand today? Call it traditional or contemporary, the array of luxury fashion houses continue to stay loyal to their quality of purification with sartorial elegance, while allowing creative elements to make whimsical diverse creations. Today, much attention is paid to sustainable apparel. In fact, the forthright global movement delivers options that are fashion forward and in compliance with sustainable guidelines.
The allure and significance of a man dressed in his power suit may have eclectic twists that are exceedingly in vogue. This proves that dressing for success is conveyed in various forms of your appearance. You can’t argue fashion, you simply have an opinion, but when it truly comes down to it, the importance of a well dressed man is what ultimately achieves triumph!
In speaking about reaching future goals, make no bones about it; you can achieve success through hard work and determination. But there is no denying that a healthy looking skin can make all the difference. No matter what your age is; you can benefit from developing a skincare regimen for your skin. The good news is that a good skin regime can show positive results within a week. Even simply moisturizing the face before you go to bed can help reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and redness.
On the topic of corporate ascension, it makes sense that healthy skin is valuable. In fact, in general, incomes skew higher for people with a healthy glow and power style. And for you guys who insist that you do not have the time, I can assure you that a modified skin regime just got a lot less complex. More to the point, new product offerings for men will make it as easy as it comes.
I recently came across a forward thinking men’s skin care brand named Cardon. The brand name stems from the cactus-based skincare line where all products are made with cactus extract to prevent skin irritation.
In a word, I found the product as well as the packaging to be focused on a male-specific market segmentation that is growing at an enormous rate. Over a decade ago of new genre of popular music (originated in South Korea) referred to as K-pop had launch to fame in America. Today, I introduce you to a new concept named K-grooming. Get ready to sit back and watch this South Korean mens skincare brand not only make an entrance but rather take over center stage!
I recently had the privilege to speak with co-founders Narae Chung and Jacqueline Oak at Cardon about how Cardon products are focused on solving men’s grooming needs, how Korean skincare philosophy embodies a lifestyle of self-care and why they believe that everything they do is rooted in solving the pain points!
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about how your entrepreneurial spirit helped you develop this brand while studying at the Wharton School of Business.
Narae Chung: Jacqueline and I both chose to pursue our MBAs because we wanted to start our own businesses. Over the last decade, Wharton has become known for its entrepreneurship program and resources, and its alumni spearheaded the DTC movement with Warby Parker, Harry’s, Burrow, and Snowe to name a few. Wharton gave us access to a strong network of alumni, professors, and classmates, one of whom became my co-founder.
Jacqueline and I were both part of the Wharton Semester in San Francisco program, which specializes in entrepreneurship and innovation. We often enjoyed bouncing new ideas off each other and found that we both had a passion for consumer goods, given her background at retail startups like Quidsi and M.M.LaFleur, and mine at P&G. We decided to be roommates during our last semester back in Philly. One weekend, Jacqueline helped me run a consumer focus group with a few of our male classmates to talk about men’s skincare. The event was really eye-opening, because it showed how much interest there was in the category as well as the lack of space for men to talk about it. There was also a clear absence of a quality yet affordable brand that addressed men’s growing interest in the grooming space. After that weekend, I convinced Jacqueline to join forces and we started to seriously work on the idea, which eventually led to the creation of Cardon. Our first check was actually from the Wharton Innovation Fund. We were awarded $5k which helped us design our logo, incorporate our company, and build our first website.
Joseph DeAcetis: What is the concept of K- Grooming
Narae Chung: Korean skincare, a.k.a. K-Beauty, is known for gentle, harsh-free formulas and unique natural ingredients. Korean skincare philosophy also embodies a lifestyle of self-care. Routines are more focused on proactive and preventative measures, and building healthy habits. At Cardon, we incorporate the same high quality standards into our formulations and translate the same philosophy in our skincare routine. Cardon products are focused on solving men’s grooming needs and addressing current pain points, such as shaving irritation. That’s why we call it K-Grooming.
Joseph DeAcetis: How does the Korean’s men’s care market differ from the US marketplace?
Narae Chung: The male skincare consumer in Asia today may seem quite sophisticated; he not only moisturizes, but also has regular dermatological treatments and likely wears a tinted moisturizer or BB cream as part of his everyday routine. However, a decade ago the men’s skincare market in Asia was in the same position that nascent markets, like the U.S., are in today. We see a similar trend of embracing a broader definition of masculinity and an investment in self-care through fashion, fitness, and diet. It’s only natural that personal care would follow. One difference we expect to see is that the U.S. market will have a greater focus on beard care than the Asian market, and people prefer a more simplified routine with multi-purpose products.
Joseph DeAcetis: What is the meaning behind the brand name Cardon?
Jacqueline Oak: A common concern we heard from men as it relates to skincare is shaving irritation or having sensitive skin, which makes sense if you’re taking a sharp blade to your face on a regular basis. We chose cactus extract as the hero ingredient in our skincare line because of it’s soothing and healing properties. Cactus extract is rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K. In fact, the Aztec used to use cactus to treat sun burns. Our brand name pays homage to this prickly plant and is named after the world’s largest cactus species.
Joseph DeAcetis: In your words, how and why is a healthy skin regimen important on the path to corporate ascension?
Jacqueline Oak:Skin is the most under-appreciated and overlooked accessory when it comes to dressing for success. You may have on the best outfit, but if you wake up with dark circles or a pimple in the middle of your face, you’re going to be worried that that’s what people will focus on and that impacts the confidence you project. Having healthy skin helps you feel confident and look less tired, which is a common concern our customers express to us.
Going beyond just the surface of skincare how it makes you look, having a skincare routine is like meditation. It gives you time to check-in with yourself. Having a consistent morning and night skincare routine gives you the mental space to prep and kick off your mornings, as well as wind down and reset at night.
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to the consumers, retailers and investors reading here about what makes the current product unique from other men’s skincare brands?
Narae Chung: Everything we do is rooted in solving the pain points that the modern male consumer feels. We conducted in-depth ingredient research to address male specific skincare needs like sensitivity, redness, and irritation from shaving and that’s how we chose cactus as our main ingredients in our line to solve their skin concerns.
We also believe in giving consumers the best value possible. By leveraging the advanced skincare research and technology in South Korea, we’re able to provide products that are significantly higher quality at an accessible price point. Lastly, we’re building a brand that empowers consumers to embrace skincare as part of their lifestyle and self-care routine. We developed our collection to maximize the efficacy and impact with the least number of steps, while providing educational resources through our skincare blog and virtual consultations to help consumers discover the right routine for them.
Joseph DeAcetis: What sustainable attributes does the product and the packaging have?
Narae Chung: We place a lot of emphasis on the ingredients we use. All of our formulas are clean, meaning they don’t contain harsh preservatives like parabens, phthalates, sulfates, or silicones. Our products are made 100% cruelty-free and our ingredients are responsibly sourced. As we continue to build our product pipeline, we want to expand more into sustainable packaging through refillable, recycled packaging and exploring new sustainable materials for skincare.
Joseph DeAcetis: Describe to us what is a good skincare regime for men during office hours in quest for the path of dress for success and healthy skin.
Jacqueline Oak: The most important product to have with you throughout the day is an SPF Moisturizer, which is why we designed ours to be pocket-friendly. A SPF Moisturizer performs two functions: it hydrates your skin and protects you against sun damage. Even windows tend to only block UV-B rays and still let in UV-A rays which cause premature aging. Look for SPFs that are 30+ and are labeled with “Broad Spectrum” so it protects against both types of UV rays. If you tend to have oilier skin or want to squeeze in a quick workout during lunch, you should also bring along a gentle face wash. We opted for a clay-based formula for our cleanser, which absorbs dirt 4x better than charcoal but doesn’t dry out the skin. Also, sometimes you just need a good face wash to refresh your day.
Joseph DeAcetis: The men’s skincare market is worth 18.92 billion dollars. What are your strategy and financial projections for the next 2 years?
Jacqueline Oak: Men’s skincare growth is at a tipping point this year, and the new Zoom culture is a contributing factor. We expect the industry to continue to grow exponentially over the next few years, similar to what Narae experienced in the Asia market. Our mission at Cardon has been the same from the beginning: to provide a simple shopping experience for men to get premium skincare at an approachable price tag. We’ll continue to expand our product line to address current unmet needs and become a go-to resource for customers to comfortably learn and explore skincare. This year, we developed a new skincare blog based on top questions from customers, and launched virtual skincare consultations to help customers find the right products and routine. Building a strong relationship with our customers has been a key factor to our high growth this year. Currently, 1 in 3 customers repeat with us within 3 months and we hope to continue to see that grow.
Joseph DeAcetis: What was the inspiration behind building a men’s personal care brand?
NC/JO: Growing up in Korea, Narae saw first-hand the pride that Korean men took in their self-care. It was more than a routine—it was a way of life, an expression of self-worth, self-love and enjoyment. While she is working in the skincare and grooming industry in Asia, she was a part of the hyper growth of men’s personal care in Asia. When she moved to the US, she saw the same early indicators of the emergence of men’s self-care arising in the U.S.but there weren’t the same affordable and high quality options that there were in South Korea, where she was from. That’s how we started Cardon – make it personal care accessible to men leveraging K-beauty technology to address men’s specific skincare needs (skin irritation, redness from shaving, etc.)
Joseph DeAcetis: What did you do before Cardon?
NC/JO: Narae had worked for the skincare/grooming industry as a brand manager at Procter & Gamble (SK-II, Olay and Gillette). She has gained a lot of great consumer insight in the industry and built an extensive network, which helped us secure the largest skincare manufacturer in Korea to manufacture our product to deliver high product quality. Also, she has extensive experience in Ecommerce and growth marketing ad served as an associate director of growth marketing at Walmart Online Grocery. Jacqueline comes from a retail startups background. She has worked at Quidsi, an Amazon subsidiary, and M.M.LaFleur in a wide range of areas including finance, marketing analytics, and offline retail. She specializes in how to build profitable DTC businesses, and how offline retail has evolved from a sales channel to an experience channel.
Joseph DeAcetis: What do you attribute your initial success to?
First, the product has to be good. You can get people to try something once, but to build a business you need to build a relationship with the customer. We do that with quality products and a personalized experience. More than 1 in 3 customers repeat within the first 90 days. We offer a convenient and customizable subscription option as well as text and video skincare consultations. Our customers have grown to trust our quality and our brand; we focus on ingredient knowledge and even make recommendations beyond our product line to help customers find the best solutions for their skin.
I had a brief chat with model DAE about his thoughts on the importance of healthy skin and power dressing with regard to Dressing for Success!
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about how you achieved great success in the USA as being the top Korean male model in the industry?
DAE: Already 9 years in this industry and I feel like I still don’t know what I’m doing sometimes. What I know for sure is that I have great agents who are exceptionally good at what they do & always know what they are doing so I didn’t have much to worry about. One thing I did try though is being an early bird, whether it is Go-see, casting, fitting, shooting…always tried to be early and ready.
Joseph DeAcetis: In your words, why is Dressing for Success necessary in achieving success as an employee as well an an entrepreneur?
DAE: The way you dress often reflects a lot about the person. Personality, attitude, confidence, readiness and most importantly good self-management. When you dress well and spend time taking good care of yourself people always notice and that’s always a plus.
Joseph DeAcetis: Why is men’s grooming so important in aiming to rise to corporate ascension?
DAE: I think the answer is similar to dressing for success. When you see a well-groomed man, you know that this man wakes up early in the morning to spend that extra time to take good care of himself and it only shows how much he values self-management and that’s always a plus as well.