Cover K-beauty expert Charlotte Cho tells Tatler all about her new book, The Little Book of Jeong (Photo: Courtesy of Charlotte Cho)

South Korean American beautician and entrepreneur Charlotte Cho is best known for popularising K-beauty in the United State

After spending a few years working in South Korea, Charlotte Cho and her husband returned to the United States and decided to launch Soko Glam, an online platform and retail site that brings K-beauty products to America.

Since the 2012 launch, Cho has racked up an impressive list of achievements. She’s earned her beautician licence, developed her own skincare brand, Then I Met You, and written two books, discussing both skincare and her own experiences as an entrepreneur. Here, Cho talks Korean beauty, motherhood and the Korean concept of jeong.

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Tell me about your new book, The Little Book of Jeong.

While I was working and living in Seoul, there were two things that I had learnt and adopted into my life. The first was Korean beauty, and the second was the Korean concept of jeong, which describes a deep and emotional connection you can have with someone or something. Each chapter in The Little Book of Jeong is an intimate look into what makes jeong so special, how it impacted my entrepreneurial journey and how it led to my happiness and success. In many ways, I also consider this my love letter to Korea. If you’re interested in Korean culture and Korean dramas, you will love this book.

Jeong is the focus in 'The Little Book of Jeong' as well as your skincare line, Then I Met You—what does jeong mean to you?

Jeong is a big part of Korean culture, but it’s not only limited to or experienced by Korean people. Jeong gives you the courage and conviction to reach goals that you never thought you could achieve. It teaches you to invest in the community. It encourages you to give without expecting anything in return. It inspires you to be more empathetic, and it results in bonds that will last for a lifetime. I believe we live in a society that is inundated with shallow social media interactions, and we’ve forgotten the importance of what it means and what it takes to build meaningful connections. We need more jeong in this world because, as human beings, having jeong is extremely fulfilling and brings happiness.

How has your life changed since becoming a mother last November?

I can’t stress enough how challenging it is to be a parent and I give so much kudos to those who manage to juggle both a demanding career and raising kids. I haven’t really felt 100 per cent like myself since giving birth, due to postpartum hair loss and other bodily changes. It’s also a new role and new mindset that still takes some getting used to! The silver lining, however, is that I’ve rekindled jeong with friends who have also recently become new parents.

What is your current skincare ritual and has it changed since becoming a mother?

My skincare ritual in the morning has really become sparse after having a baby because there’s a lot of things to prepare for and something’s gotta give. But in the evening, that’s my special self-care time. You don’t have much time during the day to care for yourself, so in the evening it becomes that much more important to practise self-care. 

What has life been like for you during Covid-19?

I feel completely grateful for the fact that we have been able to work safely at home. Working from home also means I have been able to see many of my daughter’s milestones, which is another blessing. But still, I’m not going to discount the fact that Covid-19 really was a challenging time for my mental health. The pandemic is especially cruel in that it has caused us to isolate ourselves from friends and family. There’s no substitute for quality time spent in person but we searched for other ways to connect, such as through Facetime and Zoom. One thing that I know for sure is that I’m not going to take in-person moments for granted after the pandemic.

Any exciting projects coming up?

Our team launched two new skincare lines, Good (Skin) Days and The Klog, in the middle of the pandemic. When I was in my hospital bed during labour, I was in the middle of final edits of The Little Book of Jeong. After seeing us work through the past year, I’m convinced that we can do anything.

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