A Chef with 28 Years of Experience Makes Recipes for Beauty Supplies.
5 Stars Beauty’s President Sung-sik Lee
Lee Sung-sik, who operates three retail stores near Washington, DC, is preparing to open a fourth store. Upon entering the store, the staff are busy opening boxes and moving them to shelves, and they are in full swing at the end of the opening. The spacious store, measuring about 2,0000 square feet, took root by the efforts of the staff. Representative Lee Sung-sik’s phone rings constantly, as he is preparing for the grand opening. In this article, we present his philosophy of running four retail stores and his secret to becoming a five-star store, just like the store’s name.
The CEO of 5 Star Beauty, a chef with 28 years of experience?
Representative Lee Sung-sik jumped into “the real world” at the young age of 16. Growing up with seven brothers, he recklessly went to Seoul, not wanting to be a burden on the family. Perhaps god answered to his sincerity. He started to succeed with cooking. His career, which he started at a young age, led him abroad many countries. His first time abroad was in 1984. Starting in Seville, Spain, a city of passion, he was responsible for the meals of about 4,000 people on-site who were put into the construction of the railway in northern Iraq. Since then, his life in the United States began as he became the general manager of restaurant management in LA and New York, and he came to light by applying the management philosophy he learned while operating a restaurant with many people to a beauty supply that he just happened to have started.
Began beauty supply thanks to late child
While CEO Sung-sik Lee was busy cooking, his spouse was already running a beauty supply store. In the meantime, his youngest son, among two children, boy and girl, was born, and Sung-sik Lee’s help was needed to run the store. He put his family and children’s education before his career, and since then, it has been 18 years of beauty supply. Currently, it is operated under the names of Ocean Beauty and 5 Star Beauty. In the future, he plans to clean up the stores that were insolvent and focus on 5 Star Beauty.
The opening of the fourth beauty supply is God’s work
It would not have been easy to open a new store during the pandemic. The opening was delayed for about 7 months from the previous plan. He had been focusing on family and children’s education so far, but after all of his children had grown up, he had an idea. “My prime years won’t last more than 30 years, and I want to achieve something,” he thought. As a devout Christian, he says that he was able to open the store due to God’s work. Thanks to the credit he had accumulated by diligently operating existing stores, 5 Star Beauty, which is currently waiting for the grand opening, was able to enter on good terms. He wants to live with the heart of serving the community because beauty supply is something God has given to him.
To survive by adapting to the trends
How is the new store different from the old store? The concept is similar to the existing store, but the size of the store has increased by 12,000 square feet from an average of 8,000 square feet to 20,000. The new store’s product section also runs from 1 to 30. The reason the store has grown is because, as the Internet develops and surrounding competition increase, there are tens of thousands of products that customers want, so they tried to make those products easy to find in one store. In addition, trendy products disappear fast as pop songs that hit the chart and go, so they follow the trend by working with managers in the field to quickly supply and receive products. When the trend disappears, they do not keep the products and dispose of stock.
Store management is like an art!
When asked what he concerns most about the management of the store, he replied, “Art is not just music and paintings. Anything in everyday life can be art.” His definition of art varies. Store interiors, relationships with customers, relationships with salesmen, and even family relationships can be art. He says that the reason some stores that sell well than others, even though all stores sell the same product, is because of the combination of all those ‘everyday art.’ He also said that only being faithful to everything without pursuing money makes this kind of artistic connection possible.
Honesty and positive mind that works for any business
When he hires, he prefers honest people over well-experienced people. The same was the case when he served as general manager of the restaurant. He has been running for 28 years, and countless staff have come and gone. “Honesty is the best policy. No cheating, and no harming others. People with a positive mindset are creative and diligent,” he says. The management philosophy learned while cooking is also applied to beauty supplies. The most important thing is customer service, and he thinks although recipes can be the same, it tastes different depending on how sincerely you treat customers. Since authenticity and honesty are difficult to fake or imitate, authenticity is said to be a strong differentiating factor for 5 Star Beauty.
Black employees who promote the long-term survival of the organization
Black employees welcome you to 5 Star Beauty. Even by rule of thumb, the proportion of black employees is higher. In the past, the ratio between Korean and black employees was 3:2, but now it is around 1:4. The reason for this is that the number of Korean immigrants has decreased significantly, and the majority of Koreans currently coming to the US are international students, and young Koreans are not willing to work in beauty supplies for a long time. Different types of retailers require different competencies. Beauty supplies, in particular, has a large number of black customers. CEO Lee Sung-sik, who plans to continue to increase the proportion of black employees in the future, is not worried.
His never-ending challenge
At first, he couldn’t give up cooking, so he wanted to launch a franchise restaurant with the motto ‘three new’- new concept, new technology, new products. He actually plans to open a restaurant one day after the pandemic is over, now that he doesn’t have to focus on his children’s education and family. He also says that he wants to publish cookbooks with recipes that have been compiled so far, so he truly is a challenger. In the case of beauty supplies, he now has some time left for new challenges because some parts of management are left to the managers and they cooperate effectively.
A word to retail store owners and the future of beauty supply
The inborn nature of seeking beauty in humans, from thousands of years ago, do not change. New retailers typically have low sales and only marginal gross margins, so you need to figure out how to safely expand your business. You must think of what you can do without being greedy first. You should also avoid damaging other business owners for personal greed. ‘Honesty. Positivity’ are two words that seem obvious and easy, but they are difficult to practice unless they are embedded in the body, like a habit. As the management philosophy of the store owner can be seen by the behaviors of the employees, I wish for all store owners to lead the store with a positive and cooperative mind.