MAY 18, 2016

For Toni Ko, Perversion Lies in the Eye of the Beholder

privy profile   |   By Bonnie He


Occupation: Serial Entrepreneur

Based in: Los Angeles

Languages Spoken: English, Korean


L'Oreal thought Toni Ko was worth it.

In 2014, the internationally renowned cosmetics company acquired Ko's beauty powerhouse NYX for a rumored $500 million dollars, enough for a lifetime of sipping margaritas at the beach, if Ko had chosen to coast into an early retirement.

But ambitious Ko, who founded NYX at age 25 and established her makeup line as one of the most highly regarded beauty brands in the industry, craved a new reason to drive herself up every morning. Her unique skill set is undoubtedly bridging the gap between high quality products and low price points. So the innovator immediately dove into Round 2.

And PERVERSE was born.

Debuting at Coachella Weekend 1 this year, PERVERSE instantly attracted influencers Kylie and Kendall Jenner, and models Chanel Iman, Suki Waterhouse, Ashley Benson and Olivia Holt at the festival. During Weekend 2, PERVERSE hosted an official meet-and-greet with Arden Cho of “Teen Wolf” and Katherine McNamara of “Shadowhunters”.

Other celebrities spotted framing their faces with Ko’s sunglasses include Jessica Alba, Cara Delevingne and Rihanna.

As for brick-and-mortar stores, coming soon are five physical locations, including Topanga Canyon Mall, Hollywood Boulevard, Culver City Mall, and a flagship store in Downtown LA. On Saturday, May 21, PERVERSE opened their first store in Larchmont Village.

If history repeats itself, we know Toni Ko won’t rest until PERVERSE has all eyes on it.

 Toni Ko Privy Interview Photo


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Is it true that when you arrived from Korea at age 13, you didn't speak a word of English? And yet, you overcame that obstacle and became a serial entrepreneur. Tell us what drove you to succeed!


Yes, that is very true that my family moved to the U.S. when I was 13 years old and I did not speak any English. School was quite interesting and very challenging because I did not understand what the teachers were teaching. But, I think that whole experience made me the person I am today because I had to find creative ways to earn passing grades, and it made me very aware, almost hyper-sensitive, to my surroundings because I had to analyze everything. My drive comes from many different sources. For one, nothing is good enough for me. I know that sounds terrible, but there is definitely beauty to this approach because when nothing is good enough, you never settle for mediocrity. In the book, "Good to Great," I was inspired by the philosophy that Good is the enemy of Great because when a person in a company starts accepting Good as Good Enough, they let go of the potential to be Great.




Korean women are known for being fashionable. What about your background do you think influenced your foray into cosmetics, and now, the fashion industry?