A Business Journey for a Hidden Gem, Handmade Soaps Minwoo Kang, CEO of The Purity

A Business Journey for a Hidden Gem,
Handmade Soaps

Minwoo Kang, CEO of The Purity


We met Mr. Kang at an Atlanta trade show in March, where he was wearing a leather strap apron as if he had just come out of a workshop. And he started to explain his company’s main product, handmade soap, in person. I heard beforehand that he started to make soap for his child in the beginning and turned that into a business, which gave me some idea of how the business started and expanded. I realized that I was completely wrong after hearing about his difficult journey. But his confidence in handmade soap and his insistence on quality proved that he was the right person to interview. Here’s the birth story behind The Purity’s handmade soap, which is not only recommended by a pediatrician but also by loyal followers.

The beginning of American life

In 2001, Mr. Kang was attending college in South Korea when his parents encouraged him to drop out and move to the United States. Initially, he came to New York City to be near his friend, but his parents had a hard time adjusting, so he ended up moving to Georgia, where his parents had a lot of friends. “I’ve worked in construction, I’ve worked in a grocery store, and I’ve really done it all.” It was 20 years ago when his parents’ friend, who was in the beauty supply business, suggested that they run a beauty supply.

He’s always been interested in new products featured in magazines. He even reached out to a manufacturer for products that no one else was carrying and got them exclusively. “I just happened to personally reach out to an American company for a product, and the product ended up only available at our store. So, people came from other states and bought it from us.” The product was so well received that the company contracted him as a sales representative where he began his career as a salesman traveling around the Southeast.

A love affair with handmade soap

Mr. Kang’s wife stayed away from instant or processed food before they got married. At the time, she didn’t touch ramen or hamburgers. They used facial lotion made at home. “We were getting close to the due date of our first child, and my wife ordered a bunch of stuff online and made a bar of handmade soap. I didn’t know anything about handmade soap at the time, so I didn’t think much of it, but once I used it, I got hooked immediately.” The second beauty supply store he opened around that time was failing, so he made a big section on one side of the store and started selling handmade soap out of desperation. He sourced Korean herbs and ingredients abroad through his in-laws living in South Korea. Unfortunately, the store was doing so poorly that he had to start traveling for sales to make ends meet. He bottled soap and the ingredients, oils, and traveled around with no plan. He started the beauty supply stores with little cash, so after paying off the wholesalers with proceeds from a closeout sale, all he had left was a pile of wigs and beauty supply goods. Around this time, his child developed a problem with the eyes.

“The day we started our closeout sale, my kid ended up in the Emory ER a week shy of her 100 days.” For a month afterwards, he closed the store at night, went to the hospital to take care of his child, and then came back in the morning to open the store. “I had no choice.” By the time he closed his second shop, he was exhausted. Still, he couldn’t let go of the soap business because he had a lot of ingredients in hand and didn’t feel like doing anything else. That was exactly 10 years ago.

He had to get going with less and less, but eventually he couldn’t continue making soap at home. After searching for the cheapest place to run a workshop, he rented a warehouse that was converted from a 200-year-old stable in Stone Mountain. He continued soap-making with no heat or air conditioning. After traveling to make sales and enduring heat waves and cold snaps for years, his company finally moved into its current office and now has four employees. “Even after we relocated, we couldn’t afford a babysitter. So, my wife and I would go to sales and deliveries wearing baby carriers.” He says he owes a lot to his wife, who made soap bars with him overnight after putting their first child on the couch while pregnant with their second. “I dragged my wife, who didn’t know anything about the beauty supply, into the business and kind of forced her to do it.” That was already six years ago. Mr. Kang is grateful that he doesn’t have to say “maybe another time” to his kids when they ask for something to eat.



Commitment to quality control

He started making soap because he wanted to make the best soap for his child. So, in the beginning, he didn’t add fragrance at all. However, people always smell the soap before they buy it. So, he uses natural fragrances like essential oils and small amounts of fragrance for popular scents. Mr. Kang says, while he can’t say it is good for your health, he can confidently say it’s less harmful. He also doubles down on his commitment to quality control. Even today, he won’t allow retailers to carry more than one-month supply. If you ask for more, he’ll tell you to wait until next month to get fresh stock. Returned products go to dumpsters with no afterthought. This is something that Mr. Kang won’t budge on. “There is loss related to it, but quality control comes first.”

The future of business is family

Mr. Kang thanks the people who recognize the quality of the product. “We’re giving up the profit margin right now because we want to keep the good quality and low prices at the same time. We drew the line for the quality, and I hope you see it as our stronghold for great quality.”

I wondered where he’d go from here. “I don’t have a goal for the business. Obviously, if it goes well, that’s great, but that’s not the goal. I have goals for my family though. For now, my goal is to support my kids to be kids, and hopefully in the future, I can be a parent who doesn’t rely on kids, and kids grew up to be independent. My vision for business is family. I started this business because of my family.”

Toward the end of the interview, a distributor visited the office and left lasting words. “We sell a lot of brands, but The Purity is the only one that our customers come back to us and say they love it even without being asked. Many say their skin problems have disappeared.”

We can’t wait to see what’s next for The Purity.




The Purity | 404-558-1346 | thepuritycosmetics@gmail.com | www.the puritycosmetics.com



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