Geum Yi

Susie Wang of 100% Pure is an artist at heart

March 5, 2015
Co-founders, Susie Wang and Rick Costick of 100% Pure in the middle of developing a new cosmetic product. (Courtesy of Susie Wang)

Co-founders, Susie Wang and Ric Costick of 100% Pure in the middle of developing a new cosmetic product. (Courtesy of Susie Wang)

Dr. Oz independently promoted this particular product on his show leading to a significant spike in sales for 100% Pure (Courtesy of 100% Pure)

Dr. Oz independently promoted this particular product on his show leading to a significant spike in sales for 100% Pure (Courtesy of 100% Pure)

By Brian Han

100% Pure is a cosmetics company you may or may not have heard of, but the bottom line is that the brand has developed a cult-like following among average consumers and celebrities alike.

The reason why the name might seem unfamiliar is that up until now, the company has never really delved into traditional marketing strategies. Instead, its growth can be attributed mostly to word-of-mouth.

“Most of our success is through our community and our great customers, but when Dr. Oz or Oprah go on their shows and hold up our product telling millions of people that they love it, it’s obviously going to help,” says co-founder and Chief Creative Ambassador Susie Wang. “The funny thing is we’ve never asked them to do these things.”

The public reaction is certainly a testament to the product’s quality and the numbers don’t lie. Since 100% Pure was founded in 2005, it has doubled its revenue almost every year and reached an estimated $25 million in 2014.

The company prides itself on offering products that are 100 percent vegan and organic as well as healthy and effective.

Wang takes on a myriad of responsibilities, but her most intriguing might be when she steps into her role as an artist.

Based out of the eight-acre headquarters in Silicon Valley, the “Beauty Bakery” is a designated area where the 36-year-old Chinese Korean entrepreneur formulates the recipes for all the company’s products.

“It’s my test kitchen,” Wang says. “I have so many ideas and go there to experiment to see what I can come up with.”

Dark chocolate, coffee beans, lychee. These are some of the unique items that find their way into the company’s products and usually for good reasons.

Wang during a photo shoot (Courtesy of Susie Wang)

Wang during a photo shoot (Courtesy of Susie Wang)

“We start with basic foods that are usually packed with antioxidants and extract ingredients out of them,” Wang says. “There’s a lot of trial and error, but once I’m done, it’s sent off to some of the best chemists in the world to make sure that it works. If it’s a moisturizer, we need to make sure it’s doing exactly that and doing it well.”

It would be perfectly understandable if she occasionally ran into some form of a cosmetic writer’s block considering 100% Pure’s inventory consists of around 500 products, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“My problem is the opposite,” Wang says. “In fact, I have too many ideas that we need to find out what to edit. There are still so many new products in the pipeline, but only the best of the best get launched.”

Her inclination towards creativity can be traced back to her father who was a chef in Japan and South Korea. His approach towards food helped his daughter develop her own style.

Wang grew up right outside of Seoul, but eventually moved with her parents to San Francisco at the age of five. Her father was always cooking and it was only natural that she would pick up a few things.

“My dad is a chef and an artist,” she said. “Cooking was his way of expressing himself. He loved it and it showed. He’s even been invited to cook for Korean presidents at the Blue House (the official residence of South Korean presidents).”

Her father’s philosophy revolved around creating dishes from scratch that only used fresh organic ingredients and she was able to repurpose that idea into formulating cosmetics.

Wang began her career working for established names in the industry such as Estée Lauder and Bath & Body Works, but quickly became disillusioned.

“What a lot of people don’t know about cosmetics is that most brands go to private label labs and buy the same formula, then rebrand it as their own,” Wang says. “There might be slight differences, but whether it’s a $100 Chanel cream or some mass market brand cream, it’s pretty much the same thing. I saw these things happening myself.”

That’s where her connection to her father plays a part.

“I don’t make my cosmetics in that way,” she says. “That’s what makes us special. We don’t order our products from a lab, we actually take the time to make it ourselves.”

(Courtesy of Susie Wang)

(Courtesy of Susie Wang)

Now the company is sending out 50,000 orders per day by Wang’s estimates making it one of the most visited cosmetic sites.

That’s a lot to keep track of, but she admits that it’s not without the help of co-founders Ric Costick and James Wang.

“I do get involved with the business side of things, but I’m so lucky to have such great partners, especially Ric who handles that side of the company,” she said.

Just last year, four companies attempted to acquire 100% Pure, one of which made a $90 million offer to buy the company.

As tempting as the numbers seemed, they were all turned down because Kostick believed there was much more room for growth.

Wang has entertained the idea of entering other markets like fashion or technology. As an entrepreneur it’s probably tempting, but she seems to be content with where she’s at now.

“There might be a lot of opportunities for me out there, but if I try to chase after every little thing, it will take away from the thing I love, which is cosmetics,” she said.


  1. Lucy

    March 5, 2015 at 3:42 PM


  2. Suzy

    November 5, 2015 at 4:10 PM

    I love 100% Pure and I certainly miss you on QVC!! It’s where I learned about your akincare.

  3. launda

    November 11, 2015 at 7:08 PM

    Hello Susie Wang. I would to know how I may purchase your products?

  4. Lily

    January 16, 2016 at 11:53 PM

    Why doesn’t Susie mention the lawsuit she was involved in and lost? And the fact that most of the info she says in her interviews are False??? Not to mention the fact that your products are from China and are not anywhere usda organic

  5. Han

    February 2, 2016 at 6:44 PM

    Wow Susie I hope you see this! This is truly amazing what you are doing. Knowing this I will continue to support and buy your products because you are such honesty & so genuine! xx