Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY – Piano Performance
Not many people can say their “big idea” started with a very poorly timed rash. But for former concert pianist turned accidental entrepreneur, Angela Jia Kim, that’s pretty much exactly how Om Aroma & Co. got it’s start. What began as a homemade solution to a very uncomfortable situation grew from hobby to two eco-chic boutique spas to fashion magazine darling (if it’s winning awards in Allure, this cream has got to be amazing, right?)
While all of that might seem like some pretty satisfying success, Angela didn’t stop there. Seeing the power of female creators working together, she started Savor the Success to help women turn great ideas into even better businesses. Which got her thinking, again.
“Once [Savor the Success] was launched I began thinking about how we share our dreams that have come true with the world.” Those thoughts and a discussion-laced lunch with Rachel Hofstetter (former O, The Oprah Magazine editor and IWHJ Leading Lady) led the two to create PR School.
Sound hectic? Well let’s just say there’s a reason Angela says it’s critical to “realize that life is gorgeous chaos.”
You can create your dream, and you can live your dream.
What prompted you to switch your career focus from concert pianist to eco-beauty entrepreneur?
I was on tour and about to walk out on stage and had put on this natural lotion all over my body beforehand. Then I started breaking out into hives. I looked at the list of ingredients after getting off stage and was shocked by how many chemicals there were inside. So, I began researching and I found out that up to 60 percent of what you put on your body is absorbed into your bloodstream. Most cosmetics companies really dose their formulas with a lot of unnecessary chemicals, but they do it for the bottom line and for shelf life.
I had a Korean mom who was obsessed with creams she would get from Korea made from silk worm cocoons. So, I thought to myself, “I want something super luxurious like that but organic.” I couldn't find it anywhere, so I decided to make it for fun in my kitchen. I started mixing up all these lotions and potions just as a hobby while I was still a pianist. And just for fun all the time, I made this cream over and over again, thousands of times. I started to give them as gifts to friends, and then they wanted to buy them as gifts for their friends. Eventually I became this accidental entrepreneur!
From there, what was your next step?
It was a hobby of mine for a couple of years, and then I gave birth to my daughter and didn’t want to tour anymore. I wanted to stay near her. So, I decided to open up a little popup shop at a holiday fair here in Manhattan and I sold around $40,000 worth of cream. At that moment I thought, “Wow this is a real business.” From there, I opened up an eco-chic boutique spa in [New York City’s] West Village and called it Savor Spa. At the location we offered organic facials and sold our creams.
Shortly after, we got into InStyle as one of the best five products, and from there we began winning all of these awards from Allure and New York Magazine. After that I realized we had a concept, and so I opened a second location in Woodstock, New York, which is where we make our creams now fresh, in small batches every day.
Along the way I began to think about how women need to celebrate one another more, savor one another’s successes and learn from one another. As a result, I started Savor the Success, an organization for creators and makers. We help one another build up our businesses, as well as celebrate. You know, savor the success. Once that was launched I began thinking about how we share our dreams that have come true with the world. That’s where PR School started. It exists to help you get your amazing stuff out into the world so more people can learn from it, get it and experience it. I’m trying to help people make their dreams come true and share it with the world.
With all of the responsibilities you manage, how do you even begin to organize your day and accomplish everything you want to do?
That’s the No. 1 question people ask me: How do you do it all? I created my own daily action planner. I have a system for getting things done. I accomplish the most important tasks in the morning, plant a lot of seeds every single day and celebrate the successes. This little book has become a lifestyle, and I’ve sold thousands of these planners. I love hearing when people say it has changed their life. It has a message of prioritizing, having the right mindset, savoring the successes and having fun. I always say success is only half of it, having fun is the other!
I imagine you have an incredible support network to help you fulfill all of these things. What qualities do you look for when you are hiring someone to be a part of your team and your projects?
One of my employees wrote this beautiful description of what we look for, and how she described it was so amazing. We look for people who have a common passion, like we do, of helping women to live their best lives. She describes it as: “Our teams are full of passionate, intuitive and innovative thinkers and doers who are inspired by helping others lead lives they love for wellness, beauty and entrepreneurship."
Our overall arching mission is the savor life brand, which really helps women from beauty to business with their dreams. I think you can create your dream, and you can live your dream. Whatever that means to you, we can help you do that.
Do you feel like you have more of a work/life balance, or because you're an entrepreneur, is it more of a work/life integration?
I love that! It's more work/life integration. And you know, I don't even know what that word “balance” means. I'm just happy, and it's because I do stuff I call “gorgeous chaos.” I accept that there are chaotic moments, and I accept that there are gorgeous moments. I'm not expecting perfection, and I think that's a key to really being happy about your life.
What’s your favorite way to unwind after an especially long day?
I love cooking and eating an amazing meal with my husband. That is my favorite thing. Unfortunately, it surrounds food!
Nothing wrong with that! What would you say is an accomplishment you are particularly proud of?
I have a series of really amazing moments that I’ve experienced, and it’s hard to find a pinnacle. It’s simple, but it’s the moments that I’m able to do the things I want to do in life, and just savor life, are when I’m most proud. The fact that I can take my daughter to Paris for the summer without worrying about finances feels like a milestone and real success to me. Or, even just being able to provide for my daughter in a way I wouldn’t have dreamt of for myself.
What do you feel are some secrets to success?
There are so many! First, I would say, sow your seeds every day. And I mean, start with small little seeds. It’s a game of inches. I think people always feel like they have to be super successful and that it takes one big thing, but it’s never one big thing. It’s a game of inches for the big leap. So, planting your seeds every single day is really important.
The other is gorgeous chaos. It’s part of the action planner, and we call it organizing your life’s chaos. If you just realize that life is gorgeous chaos, and you just accept it, you’re not going to go so low and you’re not going to go so high. In every seemingly negative situation there’s always something really gorgeous that you can focus on, like a great lesson you can learn, a new friend or a new connection. Then, if you can go into your next journey in life really magnifying that gorgeous part of it, and taking what was working and working with it – allowing the flow of it – you just become more and more successful.
What is a piece of career advice that you learned that you wish people knew when entering the workforce?
I wish I understood that it's all about attitude. I’ve had employees that say, “I’m so valuable because of X, Y and Z.” Instead of talking, they need to show us their values and their results and then articulate it. Whenever you manifest something, celebrate it and allow your team to see it.
Also, I wish people understood that a job isn’t just your job, it’s your character. How you approach a job is your character. I don’t care if you’re shipping boxes, running a pitch to the press or counting inventory, if you do a half-assed job with it, you’re actually short-changing yourself of your potential. How you do the small things, is how you do the big things. I believe if you can master the small things and adjust your attitude around them, you’re going to succeed at the bigger things when they come your way.
As someone who helps others craft those perfect PR pitches, what advice do you have to girls who are applying to a company and are really trying to stand out from the clutter?
Okay, this is so easy. You would be shocked at how many resumes we receive with people who have an obvious copy and paste. If you’re really attracted to working for a company, then your cover letter is when you get that moment to articulate what you love about the company and why you are beneficial to that company. Communicate that you’re not just looking for a job, but you’re looking for a career and a place where you can grow and contribute to the passion of that company, because your passions are aligned together. If you do this, you will stand out heads above the rest.