How Doe Founder Jason Wong Discovered Startup Inspiration by Watching YouTube Movies as a Teen

Jason Wong is the 23-year-old founding father of Doe Lashes, a web based eye magnificence model identified for its easy-to-apply, stick-on, ultra-fine Korean silk lashes. Since its launch in October 2019, the model has amassed a cult following amongst lots of of 1000’s of younger folks on social media. Based on Wong, Doe is on monitor to generate greater than $5 million in income by the top of 2021, up from $120,000 in 2019. However Doe is hardly Wong’s first enterprise.

Eight years after transferring from Hong Kong to the U.S., Wong, then 14, launched a web based T-shirt store. At 19, he created a coloring e-book referred to as The Holy Meme Bible, that includes a group of that yr’s hottest tendencies, and he offered $200,000 price of books in a single day. At 21, after noticing his girlfriend struggling to put–and keep–on her false lashes, he got down to create a lighter-weight product that may match any-size eyes. Whereas Wong has by no means worn lashes earlier than, he is a passionate product designer, and says the wonder business is an area that rewards creativity and laborious work. “That is what I believe America is,” says Wong. “We got here right here, and there was an abundance of alternative for us to create.” Beneath, he displays on what has saved him going as an entrepreneur. —As informed to Mary Yang

My mother and I immigrated to America in 2005 after I was eight years outdated. Coming from Hong Kong, the place the vast majority of folks have a Chinese language background, it was a cultural shock to see how various America was.

After I was in seventh grade, my mother remarried and moved to Canada. She could not take me together with her. It was simpler for her to settle in first earlier than making use of for me to stay together with her in a unique nation. I went to stick with an uncle, who transformed his storage right into a bed room. My aunt and uncle owned a Chinese language takeout restaurant in Lawton, Oklahoma. They needed me round after faculty, to assist out as a cashier, and it was additionally a technique to control me.

My faculty mates by no means knew I lived in a storage; they by no means knew that I used to be working. I used to be afraid it could alienate me, as a result of no children at that age had been residing the life I used to be residing. After faculty, everybody went dwelling or had soccer apply; they frolicked with mates, had sleepovers–I did not get to do all that.

I solely sat on the register when there have been prospects, and for essentially the most half it was fairly empty. So I might seize my Acer laptop computer and sit at a desk for six or seven hours till the restaurant closed at 9 p.m. I used to be happening boards, studying blogs, watching YouTube. At a really younger age, I used to be in a position to see how massive the world actually is: There’s extra to it than simply eating places, than being a physician; there are folks creating stuff, people who find themselves entrepreneurs–I realized all that by the web.

Again then, YouTube was in its infancy, and I watched loads of Asian YouTubers like Ryan Higa, David Choi, and the JK Crew, who began within the 2010s. Seeing individuals who seemed like me succeed by being themselves gave me the arrogance to pursue my ardour. Later, after I grew to become mates with these Asian YouTubers, I informed them, “I owe it to you. By placing your self on the market, you encourage so many children who appear to be you; you present them it is attainable to make it.”

My story does not totally revolve round my previous struggles, however I’ve discovered that folks respect vulnerability. Everybody’s making an attempt to create a notion of their life that they increase up on social media. Individuals have this type of unrealistic expectation of what entrepreneurs are like, residing the jet-set life. I ate cereal for dinner final evening.

At Doe, I used to be on my own for the primary yr. I used to be working 16- and 17-hour days. I did everything–social media, design, provide chain logistics–and that basically allowed me to know whom to rent and what to search for in an interview. Now we have now about 12 folks, and I respect each single one in all them as a result of I’ve executed each single job. It is powerful to steer a workforce successfully in case you’ve by no means been within the battlefield your self.

You do not go on a pc, faucet some stuff, and make some huge cash. There’s loads of heartbreak that goes into it.

Throughout our first yr, we ran out of inventory throughout Lunar New 12 months as a result of we didn’t plan ahead–suppliers principally shut down for the vacation. We needed to shift our focus to producing leads, sending emails to say “We’ll be again quickly,” and making the merchandise we did have in inventory extra enticing. If you do not have merchandise, you possibly can’t make a revenue, and we needed to work additional laborious to shut the hole. I did not rejoice that yr. I haven’t got household in California, so I’d have needed to go away for a complete week to see my mother in Toronto. It was like lacking Thanksgiving–you spend time for household away from household.

Early on, I additionally made the error of making an attempt to emulate different manufacturers. After we first began, Doe was referred to as “Doux Lashes.” Doux is French for “smooth and candy,” which I felt translated into our product: a smooth pair of lashes that can look candy on you. In my head, the branding made sense. However I used to be assuming that I wanted to imitate the look of European and Western magnificence manufacturers.

Two months after we launched Doux, I met magnificence entrepreneur and YouTube movie star Michelle Phan at a celebration, and we shortly grew to become shut mates. I pitched on her my magnificence model. She’s seen 1000’s of magnificence merchandise, and Doux, on the time, wasn’t thrilling to her. However she noticed potential in me as a founder, so she suggested us lots early on.

She stated, “Hey, why do not you modify the identify, as a result of Doux is not actually memorable. You want one thing that has a extra cohesive branding. How in regards to the identify Doe–like deer? ‘Trigger deer have loads of eyelashes.”

I took that idea to a branding company in South Korea, which has turn into the epicenter of recent, thrilling magnificence manufacturers. If you have a look at what’s on cabinets within the U.S., a lot of the packaging is white with black textual content in some sans serif font. Within the South Korean and Japanese markets, packaging is brilliant, it is colourful, and there are loads of enjoyable shapes. We went by 60 completely different designs earlier than touchdown on our model colours now, smooth pastels, which I felt higher conveyed our most important promoting level, very smooth lashes.

Altering up our model was the most important catalyst to our progress. The bulk of the response to our launch got here from Asian influencers; they recognized with our packaging and appreciated the Korean silk, and their assist actually pushed us ahead. Whereas the Asian neighborhood helped us get off the bottom, in a means our viewers felt restricted. This product is for everybody. Showcasing that in our advertising and marketing and making a acutely aware effort to rent extra various fashions is our subsequent massive purpose.

I like Jack Ma, the Chinese language equal of Jeff Bezos. His life story is filled with failures. He did not make it as a KFC cashier, and he bought rejected from the colleges that he needed to go to. He did not begin Alibaba till his late thirties. In case you ask me, who’s profitable? It is somebody who failed, many occasions, however nonetheless went again and made it work.

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