Fashion editor Monique Madsen collaborates with big e-commerce guys on KPosh, an online beauty shop specializing in all-Korean cosmetic and skincare products.
This has been the worst of times, yet it has been the best of times, to borrow from Charles Dickens, for city girl Monique Madsen, who has lived in dizzyingly urban hubs like Copenhagen, Shanghai, and Manila. The former fashion editor at Tatler Philippines started the year right—or maybe wrong—stuck at the airport at Incheon because Taal, just a little over 80 kilometers from Manila, where she was headed, was having a major tantrum.
With all flights to Manila temporarily suspended as a precautionary measure against the Taal eruption, she was stranded and, though by nature restless and always able to get herself out of any fix, this was different. Monique was stuck. There was nothing she could do. She spent those hours on tenterhooks walking around the international airport to ease off the tension, shopping for unique stuff to bring home to friends, and taking a particular interest in the wide range of beauty products for which South Korea is known. Being marooned at the Incheon International Airport, as it turned out for Monique, although she didn’t find out until later, after she made it home, was a journey of discovery and a new leaf to turn.
Taal was just the beginning of what is now considered the most challenging year in recent history. A few weeks after her Incheon ordeal began this still-unfolding pandemic, which got Monique stuck again, this time at home, like the rest of us. In those do-nothing weeks of uncertainty at the beginning of the pandemic, she had every opportunity to test the products she bought at Incheon.
“As I began using my new beauty discoveries, I grew impressed by how good these Korean brands are,” says Monique. “I was also pretty amazed by the fact that most of them had such an accessible price point.”
Then came the next problem, as the products ran out. Monique found herself struggling to find online sources to repurchase her new favorite K-Beauty brands. It was while trying to get hold of some of her favorite products from Seoul that she came to know that her friends Constantin Robertz, former CEO and president of Entrego Philippines, and Alexander Friedhoff, co-founder and managing director of Etaily, had plans to start a new e-commerce platform.
This was how Monique turned her challenges into an opportunity, co-founding KPosh with these friends, after devoting weeks to conceptualizing, brand-developing, and designing the K-Beauty online shop, which will offer many Korean cosmetic and skincare brands that are difficult to find in Manila.
Her job in this new venture, aside from being co-founder at KPosh, is also as brand and creative director at Etaily. She also tapped another good friend, Arianne Kader-Cu, the country head of Korean on-demand streaming service VIU in the Philippines, to join the club.
“I knew Const (Robertz) for years, and we share many common friends in Manila. Once we put this idea together of building an online beauty store of only K-beauty brands, I called Ari, whom Const also knew from when they were working at Zalora together. Everyone in this venture is a big e-commerce player. So it all came together. It was just a natural partnership among all of us,” beams Monique.
It’s quite a career shift from Monique’s luxury magazine work and even from retail luxury brand management, where she started, gaining years of substantial experience, if only because this time she will be working with brands that are unbelievably affordable. Now a convert, she swears by the unique ingredients, such as snail filtrate, horse oil, and birds nest essence, which aren’t easily found anywhere else, as well as by the technology and methods, the Korean beauty industry is known for.
‘The Koreans are pioneers in the beauty world. Ahead of the curve is their cutting-edge technology to draw natural skincare benefits out of some of the most unique ingredients, such as snail slime, bee venom, and starfish extracts.’
“This is also why I’m so passionate about this new business venture. I’m a loyalist, so it’s been so challenging for me to try new things when it comes to my beauty regimen—I’ve skincare items I’ve been repurchasing for decades! Plus, the fact that I am a sucker for luxury brands and its swanky packaging. It’s where my career started after all,” says Monique. “Having said that, my eyes were truly opened after trying some of these K-beauty brands. Apart from the impressive natural ingredients that are always clearly translated in simple and minimalist packaging, I just couldn’t believe how many of them delivered on their promises, and even more jaw-droppingly unbelievable to me was how they cost just a fraction of the price I would pay for a tub of my favorite luxury brands.”
KPosh will be launched on Sunday, Sept. 20, on VIU. But which products does Monique personally recommend from the range that will be available on KPosh? Although she has a hard time choosing her favorites, she shares three of them.
SOMEBYMI Yuja Niacin Blemish Care Serum
I had chicken pox at 29, which severely left scars on my face. I was still based in Copenhagen at that time and would fly to Manila to have my laser treatments done. My pox scars have been an insecurity ever since, but thanks to Dr. Aivee Teo, whom I’ve been seeing since 2013, my pox scars have shrunk. I was intrigued by this product’s claim that it would rid my face of pigmented spots, ranging from acne scars to freckles and sunspots. It has unique ingredients like Korean yuja extract, which is supposed to help with brightening and moisturizing, and niacinamide, which has quickly become my favorite skincare ingredient because it’s been proven to fade scars. There’s also glutathione and arbutin, which are good for pigmentation, and 12 types of added vitamins to help with overall revitalization of the skin.
NACIFIC Fresh Herb Origin Toner
I’ve only discovered niacinamide recently. It’s a form of vitamin B known to brighten acne or pox scars. This became my holy grail ingredient and knowing that this toner had niacinamide was a definite win for me. The bonuses are the added oat extract, which boosts its brightening effect. I have noticed a big difference since adding this toner into my regimen. I have sensitive skin so the calendula extract helps soothe redness and mild irritation, while the blend of water lily extract gives me a calming effect and encourages me to take the time out and do a full routine.
This is just a brand I love overall, particularly the sheet masks! Its bestselling sheet masks are the snail, pearl, and rose variety. They just feel so luxurious and hydrating. I love putting on a sheet mask for 10 minutes while I sip my coffee and scroll my social media feed in the morning, or as I wind down at night.