Toni Ko: The Woman Behind NYX Cosmetics

March is Womxn’s History Month, so it is the perfect time to recognize the influential womxn in our world. When we think of womxn’s history, we think of historical influential womxn like Marie Curie and Amelia Earhart. But, what about the modern womxn who have impacted our generation? One of these womxn is Toni Ko, founder and creator of NYX Cosmetics — a cruelty free cosmetics brand found in drugstores and Ultas nationwide. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to Los Angeles when she was 13 years old. Her family had always been involved in business — first in fabric, then perfume and cosmetics. After dropping out of the community college she had been studying at, Ko began working with her parents full-time. And when Ko turned 25, she took out $250,000 and set out to create a cosmetics company that would sell high quality makeup for cheap, accessible prices.

In 1999, Ko founded NYX Cosmetics. She wanted to compete with popular brands like MAC and Urban Decay, and in order to do so, she made her products more affordable. Her first products were lip pencils, which she sold at $1.99 a piece, making her product much more accessible to a wider audience of makeup lovers and users. In her first year of production, Ko carried in $4 million at retail. If that wasn’t enough, the 2008 crash brought more and more customers to drugstores for cosmetic purchases and the NYX customer base increased in size. Soon enough, NYX was being sold in Targets and Ulta’s all over the place. In 2014, Ko sold NYX to L’Oréal for $500 million, and became richer than she had ever imagined she could be.

Image source: Pexels

While some may view NYX Cosmetics as just another cosmetics company, there are many other important things that NYX represents. The first thing to note is the creator herself, Toni Ko. As an Asian American woman, I am inspired by womxn like Toni Ko and because of her, I can see myself working hard and thriving in the competitive business world. Toni Ko represents diversity in business and is a product of consistent, hard work that many other young womxn of all cultural backgrounds can aspire to become. NYX Cosmetics is also a cruelty-free cosmetics company, meaning that the products made by NYX have not been tested on any animals. Despite all of the progressive movement towards a cruelty-free cosmetics world, not all cosmetic companies are cruelty-free yet. NYX is not only one of the few companies that is cruelty-free, but it is cruelty-free regardless of being an affordable drugstore brand. This exemplifies the fact that it is possible for all brands, even the cheap ones, to become cruelty-free. Additionally, NYX continues to portray itself as an inclusive brand — including wide shade ranges for foundations and concealers and advertisements that display models of all races and genders. Many of their foundations and concealers come in shades ranging from fair to deep, including shades of multiple colors and undertones. A recent NYX advertisement included male models showing off their new concealer, emphasizing that everyone can wear NYX makeup, no matter what gender you identify yourself with.

Image source: Pexels 

Toni Ko is a modern, influential woman that has made history during our generation. She is an entrepreneur that brought millions of dollars in from a company that started with only $250,000, and, on top of this, started a company that has changed the cosmetics domain forever. NYX Cosmetics brought us high quality, cruelty-free, and inclusive makeup at affordable prices. Makeup empowers men and womxn all around the world, and because of its accessibility and affordability, NYX Cosmetics helps to empower a greater range of people everywhere. Ko continues to change the fashion and cosmetics worlds through pursuing her other passions such as her sunglass company, Perverse Sunglasses. She has demonstrated that any woman is capable of becoming very successful in the business realm and can change the lives of many all around the world. While she may not be a scientific pioneer or the first woman to navigate an airplane, Ko has played an impactful role in our generation’s growth and will go down in history as an influential woman that changed cosmetics forever.