Here’s Why Toni Ko Sold NYX Cosmetics and Launched a New Company


Toni Ko is no ordinary entrepreneur… she is a serial entrepreneur. Not only is Toni the Co-Founder of the widely popular cosmetics brand, NYX Cosmetics, but she is also familiar with creating, launching, and building successful businesses! You might recognize Toni from NYX’s major acquisition in 2014 by L’Oreal, but the sale wasn’t the end of her entrepreneur endeavors. In fact, Toni has since launched a second company, PERVERSE sunglasses, to fill the accessory industry’s gap between expensive and inexpensive sunglasses. Toni prides herself in delivering professional, richly pigmented products at affordable prices. As one of our ‘Steps to Building a Business from the Ground Up’ panelists, Toni is ready to share her favorite entrepreneur tips & tricks! Keep reading to learn more about Toni Ko, and be sure to purchase your #SimplyLA tickets HERE!

SS: What made you want to break into the beauty industry? I broke into the beauty industry when I was 25 years old because I could not find high-quality cosmetics at an affordable price. Back then, I used to visit department stores and I would admire the beauty and quality of designer products. However, because I was young and broke, I was only able to look and test the expensive brand products, as my budget only allowed me to purchase drug-store products. Prior to 1999, drugstore cosmetics were…simply awful. They looked cheap and were very poor quality. So, at one point, I decided to start my own brand and eliminate all of the unnecessary marketing costs that were driving up the retail price of department store products, and rather spend that money on the product itself. That is how NYX Cosmetics was born in 1999.

SS: How did the brand gain awareness? Once I launched the product with spectacular packaging and quality, retailers were knocking on my door in no time asking me to supply them with NYX Cosmetics. However, I did exhibit at all of the trade shows one can name. I used to have two sets of luggage that I constantly rotated. I lived almost 1/3 of the year in hotels, visiting customers, exhibiting at trade-shows and visiting my suppliers. As an entrepreneur you must be physically and mentally strong, and have the endurance to tackle the duties called upon you.

SS: With the launch of NYX Cosmetics, your goal was to provide department store beauty at drugstore prices. How were you able to preserve the quality of products without raising the price? I noticed the price of department store products are so high because they are allocating more than 30% of their revenue in marketing, and these companies are making astronomical profits. To preserve a low price point, I negated the marketing fee and cut my profit to the bare minimum.

SS: With so many beauty brands on the market, why do you think consumers love NYX Cosmetics? The array of beauty brands in the market now is mind-blowing! Yes, consumers love NYX cosmetics. But, let’s not forget the company was founded in 1999 and has been around for 18 years. During those 18 years, NYX has consistently delivered and proved the brand sells great products at great prices. Through that consistency we gained the trust of consumers. The key to success for any brand is to earn that trust.

SS: NYX Cosmetics sold to L’Oreal in 2014. What inspired you to switch gears and launch PERVERSE Sunglasses? By 2014, I had owned the company for 15 years.  As a single female entrepreneur, I had really given my all, and then some, for NYX. I sacrificed so much and was literally married to the company. 2014 was also the year I turned 40, and I had a midlife crisis. I wanted to find that work/life balance everyone was talking about, and that’s when I decided to sell the company.

SS: Although NYX and PERVERSE are different companies, do you notice any similarities between them? Differences? One thing is the ultimate fact: You have to sell great product at a great price. Period.

SS: Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? Yes! I have so much advice, but the most important piece I can offer is to stay focused only on the goal. Everything else is just noise.