Beauty Is in My DNA—Here's How I Built 2 Multimillion-Dollar Makeup Empires


The Lineup is a monthly series where we're giving you an inside peek at the beauty lineups of cool fashion people, editors, makeup artists, hairstylists, and estheticians—all the people we trust the most. Get ready for a behind-the-scenes look at all the can't-live-without products that make their worlds go 'round.

I believe that your life shows you a preview of your true calling at a young age. For me, I always loved writing and reading beauty and fashion magazines—and look where I am now! Toni Ko, the founder of Nyx Professional Makeup and Bespoke Beauty Brands, had a similar experience. Ever since she was young, she loved makeup and would watch in admiration as her mom applied her lipstick in the morning. From the age of 14, Ko worked at her family's beauty supply store, where she learned the behind-the-scenes of the industry and what it takes to run a company.

Ko told me that Nyx Professional Makeup—now a $500 million brand—was born out of her experience as a consumer. "I remember going to the department stores and swooning over the high-end beauty brands, but they were too expensive for me to buy," she said. She wanted to re-create the high-end packaging and high quality of department store cosmetics but make them affordable, so she founded Nyx Professional Makeup at just 25 years old. "The only way to succeed is to focus on finding a solution, rather than focusing on the problem," she says, reflecting on her entrepreneurial journey. She also notes that out-of-the-box creativity, trend forecasting, and having a strong narrative are the most important factors in creating a successful brand.


(Image credit: @tonikokoko)

This is exactly what she helps others cultivate with her new venture, Bespoke Beauty Brands. It provides the not-as-fun-but-still-important business infrastructure (such as product development, logistics, operations, and marketing) to help celebrities and creators launch their own beauty brands. Ko has partnered with celebrities including Kim Chi and Jason Wu to help them bring their vision and creativity to life. She told me that the product development stage, specifically, is where the magic happens. "We are always bouncing ideas off each other, and it's often based on what's missing in their makeup kit, trend forecasting, and how we can put our unique touch on a specific product," she says. "We go through several design and formula rounds until we both feel we've perfected the product." Naturally, Ko has high standards for the products she uses every day, so I asked her to share her lineup. Keep scrolling because these picks are beyond impressive.

Emma Walsh
Associate Beauty Editor, Branded Content

Emma is an associate beauty editor of branded content. She’s a passionate writer who loves all things beauty, wellness, and personal growth. Before pursuing writing, she worked in influencer marketing at Gallery Media Group, which owns digital brand PureWow. She lives in New York City, where you can usually find her running to a Pilates class or sipping on a green juice in the park.