TEXT BY Sami Rahman
We meet entrepreneur MinKyung Kang who revolutionised the Qatar beauty scene when she launched her Korean skincare brand, Pida Beauty.
Born and raised in South Korea, 28-year-old MinKyung Kang started her skincare brand — Pida Beauty — out of necessity rather than a whim after she noticed a huge gap in the Middle Eastern beauty market.
“The idea came to me a few years ago, while I was studying at Carnegie Mellon University Qatar,” MinKyung tells QRM.
The Korean skincare hype hadn’t reached the Middle East yet and MinKyung struggled to get hold of her favourite Korean beauty products. Growing increasingly tired of having to get her mum to order and ship products over from South Korea, she decided to give some mainstream brands a try.
“That was my biggest skincare mistake,” she exclaims. “I started to break out a lot and it reached a point where I couldn’t even make eye contact with people due to the severe acne that I’d developed.”
Fortunately, MinKyung’s skin improved but only after she’d spent an endless amount of time and money studying skincare and trying out different products.
“This experience pushed me to develop the concept of Pida Beauty a few years later,” she says.
Bridging the gap
Although Pida Beauty is now an established brand in Qatar with a huge following of supporters, MinKyung’s success was anything but overnight.
“The early stages were super intense and stressful to the point where I just wanted to disappear from the whole world,” she explains.
Among those challenges were the branding, which MinKyung explains, needed to convey the right mood and message.
“That alone took me six months. I had to learn about visual and graphic design in order to portray exactly what I wanted.”
In order to fully commit to her business MinKyung also decided to resign from her job at Qatar Embassy in Korea and relocate to the Middle East.
“It was a shock to my mum as she wanted me to settle back in Korea,” says MinKyung. “But she understood how important it was for me to be in Qatar. I could have stayed in South Korea and delegated the work to a local business partner, but that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to give it my all.”
As a non-Arabic speaker MinKyung also faced challenges in getting her business off the ground.
“I didn’t have contacts in different fields to assist me, so in the beginning I had to visit ministries all by myself and hustle really hard.”
Winning over Qatar
Since the launch of Pida Beauty, the brand has grown exponentially, acquiring a mass of followers and ‘Pidababes’ as MinKyung affectionately refers to them.
As a social media influencer herself, MinKyung could have relied on her loyal following to back her brand, but she insists that this wasn’t part of the plan.
“I had a bit of an advantage being exposed to the beauty community in Qatar,” she says, “but I never relied on this to drive sales. I made sure that I worked extra hard providing the best products as well as the best customer service possible.”
But what truly sets Pida Beauty apart from other Korean skincare brands is the personal touch that goes into every order.
“Not everyone knows what they want or what’s right for their skin”
“Not everyone knows what they want or what’s right for their skin,” explains MinKyung. “To combat this we implemented a personalised consultation where our potential customers could contact us to receive a tailored skincare routine.”
It’s this dedication to providing high quality customer service and educational content that has allowed Pida Beauty to grow and thrive in Qatar.
Although just a year old, Pida Beauty has quickly established itself as a trusted and loved Korean beauty brand in Qatar. This isn’t hard to believe when you look at MinKyung’s formidable work ethic.
“I definitely prioritise Pida Beauty over my personal life. I don’t even think about paying my water and electricity bills until they warn me about cutting it off,” she laughs.
And, although the first year of business was intense, MinKyung assures us that things are a lot more stable now.
“I normally wake up at 6:30am, make some coffee and have a shower before I begin work at 8am. I leave the office at 5:30pm, but my work continues throughout the evenings with business calls, meetings, or even social media related invited events until about 10pm.”
Life in Qatar
MinKyung, who has been living in Qatar for nearly a decade, has carved a life and business for herself in this thriving country.
“I have an amazing support system here and feel blessed to have them around,” she says. “We also have a lot of Pidababes (our customers) who really love our brand and this keeps me more motivated and enthusiastic to deliver even better work for all of them as well.
“Qatar is also a fast growing country where I feel I can contribute a lot by creating new goods and services as well as jobs to attract talent from Qatar and all over the world.”
Thinking ahead, MinKyung dreams of taking Pida Beauty global. “I want to be a person who proves that anything is possible and someone who inspires others to chase after their dreams. I think that’s my goal.”
Photos: Courtesy of Pida Beauty