For Charlotte Cho, co-founder of Soko Glam, a Korean beauty and skin-care ecommerce company, skin care is personal—and that’s not just because she helped make the infamous Korean 10-step skin-care routine mainstream in the U.S. or literally wrote the book about it.
Between Soko Glam, running the accompanying educational skin-care website The Klog and rolling out her own skin-care brand called Then I Met You, Cho knows what consumers are looking for in skin care. So she developed Soko Glam’s first pop-up experience, Soko House.
The pop-up, which opened today and runs through Aug. 19, aims to give a Sephora-style treatment to skin care that hasn’t been seen before. The pop-up shop has products people can buy but also Instagramable opportunities and the Soko Sanctuary—a “skin care fitting room” where consumers can draw a curtain, sit down, actually wash their face at a sink and try products before they buy them—an experience Cho says isn’t found in any traditional retail experience.
“Soko Sanctuary [is] a big way to understand if consumers are ready for more education and [a] higher touch point,” Cho said. “Whether you’re new to skin care or well versed, now you have an intimate setting to test out products.”
Like any other pop-up experience or direct-to-consumer retail shop, Soko House plans on holding events, classes and meet and greets with Cho and other influencers. In Soko Sanctuary, consumers can try on products themselves or ask a member of the “Soko Concierge” team to help them figure out how to apply products or what they need. Unlike at other pop-ups, the team is made up of experts who actually work at Soko Glam, not temp workers. Cho said it was important to bring real skin-care experts into the fold to give consumers a more tailored experience.
Cho said the Soko Glam team learned from private focus groups it held in its own headquarters as well as from its Soko Glam Mini Shop experience at Bloomingdales in 2017. With the Bloomingdales partnership, Cho said consumers were disappointed the offline experience didn’t mirror the online one, particularly that Bloomingdales didn’t carry new products Soko Glam is known for.
The focus groups, which happened over four months, looked at pain points around shopping for skin-care products. Some of the feedback, including that consumers could only try products on their hands as opposed to their faces, helped push the idea of the Soko Sanctuary.
Soko Glam, in combination with The Klog, has focused on bringing together a community to talk about skin care, and with Soko House, Cho said she wants to give consumers an experience that helps them on their “skin-care journey.” It’s the kind of talk Cho and Soko Glam also walk. The Soko Glam team spun The Klog out of Soko Glam in 2016 and into its own site, despite concerns that it would affect the site’s SEO and that would decrease Soko Glam’s conversion rates. The site now drives half a million uniques per month. Cho’s taking the success of spinning out The Klog and applying it to Soko House by devoting less retail space to products and instead creating the Soko Sanctuary.
“If you see results, you’re going to continue on our skin-care journey and explore even more avenues and products that potentially improve your skin,” Cho said. “That whole journey is exactly why Soko Glam has been successful—we care about their education [and it] reap results—like a great retention experience.”