Meet Vicky Tsai: The Founder Behind Beloved Skincare Brand Tatcha

Second Life Podcast: Vicky Tsai



Welcome to Second Life, a podcast spotlighting successful women who've made major career changes—and fearlessly mastered the pivot. Hosted by Hillary Kerr, co-founder and chief content officer at Who What Wear, each episode gives you a direct line to women who are game changers in their fields. Subscribe to Second Life on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or anywhere you get your podcasts to stay tuned.

There’s no denying that Tatcha has become an industry favorite in the beauty world as a skincare brand that seamlessly blends Japanese botanicals with clinically backed ingredients to rejuvenate not just the skin, but also the soul. At the helm of the brand is Vicky Tsai, who founded the brand during her own journey of soul-searching and self-discovery. During a visit to Kyoto, she immersed herself in the beauty practices of the geisha, a cultural treasure of Japan. Through their time-honored rituals, Tsai’s skin found solace and healing—a transformational experience ignited a fire within her to share these age-old secrets with the world.

Today, Tatcha stands as a key player in skincare found in massive retailers like Sephora and on the counters of major beauty influencers and creators. And while Tsai, with the guidance of geisha and cultural advisors, has built an incredibly successful and purposeful skincare brand, her path was certainly not linear. In fact, Tsai's journey is a testament to her extraordinary persistence, resilience, and unyielding sense of purpose. 

Tsai’s career initially led her to the bustling streets of Wall Street, where she worked as a derivatives trader at Merrill Lynch in New York City. Little did she know that the city she called home would experience one of the most significant events in modern history with the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center—marking an extremely pivotal moment in her life. After 9/11, Tsai reevaluated her path, looking to find more fulfilling work. Thus, she embarked on a new journey by enrolling in Harvard Business School which led her to a myriad of opportunities. She interned at SKII and ventured into the world of Starbucks in China. Later, she joined a tech startup focused on sustainability. Despite these diverse experiences, Tsai was still grappling with a sense of purpose while dealing with acute dermatitis that plagued her skin.

A decade into her corporate career, Tsai made a bold and audacious decision — to prioritize her own happiness. Armed with nothing more than a desire for change and a staggering half a million dollars of debt, she bid farewell to her job and set off on a journey of self-discovery and exploration. Listen to the latest episode of Second Life to hear how Tsai eventually found her footing in the beauty industry.

And keep scrolling to shop some of Tatcha's best-sellers.