“No regrets… To Make Retailers’ Lives Easier!”

“No regrets… To Make Retailers’ Lives Easier!”

An interview with Arnold Park, CEO of Alicia Beauty: Hair Business Owner and Former Prosecutor

Mr. Park, who has joined Alicia Beauty 13 years ago, used to be a prosecutor, an influential post in American society. He succeeded his father who ran a business and unexpectedly passed away. Leaving behind the prosperous and respected title as a prosecutor, which also had been his dream, he decided to keep the reputation of his family business. For the past thirteen years, he worked day and night only thinking about the future of the company. His early years at the company were not without difficulties stemming from being a second generation immigrant. Above all, he had to learn Korean language and culture from scratch. After overcoming the difficulties, he became the head of his family business. He now stands as a successor of Alicia Beauty’s 47 years of legacy. Let’s find out his thoughts on the past, present, and the future of the hair industry.


You have a rare title of former prosecutor. How did you find yourself at Alicia Beauty and for how long?

I graduated from Northwestern University in 1993 and Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 1996, and I worked at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office until 2001 and at a Chicago law firm till 2006. That’s when my father who was the CEO of Alicia Beauty passed away, and I succeeded him without much forewarning. Since March of 2006, I have been running Alicia Beauty for 13 years. I was promoted to President from Vice President about three years ago.


What were the difficulties you experienced after you took over your father’s company?

There were two. One is the language barrier. When I started working at Alicia Beauty, I could only speak conversational Korean like many second generation immigrants, so I had to improve my Korean skills to a business level quickly. Secondly, he was gone without any warning, which meant I did not have time to learn every aspect of the business. I had to quickly learn everything about the business.


You grew up in America. Was it hard for you to adapt to Korean company culture?

Yes, it was hard. Although I was born in Seoul, my family moved to Chicago when I was four years old. Aside from having had no opportunity to work with Koreans, I was more accustomed to a teamwork-based work culture. It was really hard for me to accept the vertical work relationship where an employee’s rank mattered more than his ability at work. I still believe this is a predominant view in many Korean workplaces. Nevertheless, I think more and more Korean Americans are moving toward Western work culture where teamwork and horizontal work relationship are valued.


Many second generation retail owners encounter cultural conflicts. Is there a solution?

I want to say patience and persistence. Korean business culture and American business culture, both have theirs pros. As a second generation Korean American, I try to exploit both. I can take their pros and get rid of their cons; only advantages prevail. I know it’s not an easy process to transition from the first generation to the next generation. There could be a lot of complaints and misunderstandings. If any of the readers of BNB magazine needs a help in the process, they can contact me directly. Who knows better than who’s been there?


Now, you are quite seasoned in the hair industry. How do you forecast the future of the hair industry? 

I think the beauty industry in general would grow continuously. The key to the growth is, I believe, the partnership between the wholesale and the retail working together to keep up with consumer trends. If retailers share a consumer trend with a wholesale company like us, we can bring a good quality product to the market in a short time. Alicia Beauty would willingly take the risk of early investment in new products if that’s what it takes to make consumers happy.


The hair industry is not immune to the impact of online retail; are you interested in running an online retail business?

No. Our core business resides in the partnership with the retailers, and our vision lies on a retail experience where customers can test our products and make purchase at a retail store.


Foxy Silver is one of the well known products. Is there any exclusive feature of Alicia Beauty for wig products targeting middle-aged to senior consumers?

Foxy Silver started with an idea from my father and senior-level employees who were close to him. Over the years, our Foxy Silver brand grew and now has the largest number of wig products for the elderly, extensions, braiding hair, and hairpiece products. From the low-budget items to premium luxury products, we have them all.

Another selling point is that these products do not occupy a large space for display. Per household census data, we can provide a short list of products for an efficient display at a small retail store. On the other hand, our products can easily occupy an entire section of display. Although Foxy Silver is our flagship, we also have the Foxy Lady lineup that targets younger consumers.


Being a former prosecutor, do you have any regrets for your legal career? 

My youth dream was to become a district attorney, but I do not regret leaving the prosecution job. For the past thirteen years, I’ve worked hard with my family and great colleagues and accomplished something here. I will not exchange it for anything. The opportunities and the experiences made me who stands right here. I’m fortunate.


Does your law degree help running your business?

Knowing the law can help, but it can be a disadvantage as well. Lawyers tend to think through all possibilities and try to minimize the risk. Some lawyers might overanalyze issues and act too conservatively, which does not fit the job position requiring acting swiftly along with the market trend and having insufficient time to analyze.


Do you have personal hobbies?

I like going to church, and I work with many charitable organizations to help immigrants and other underserved populations. I’m an avid athlete and love outdoor activities.

What makes Alicia Beauty products stand out?

When doing business, you come to a point where you have to decide whether you would sell more products with low-quality low-price for more profit or you would instead sell good quality products despite making less profit. Alicia Beauty made a decision to focus on selling high-quality premium products for discerning consumers with good taste.


What was the most meaningful experience you had at Alicia Beauty?

The most meaningful experience I had at Alicia Beauty was that I was fortunate to work with hard working and thoughtful people. I know very well that they sacrificed a lot for their work, spending more time at work than with their families. If it were not for those great people, I cannot imagine how hard this work would’ve been for me.


Anything you want to say to your employees and retail owners.

Alicia Beauty’s goal is to make retail owners’ lives easy. We know how hard it is to run a retail store, so we try to offer products at a lowered price, which should give some relief to the retail owners. You don’t need to worry about shipping cost or returns, and we work hard to maintain a lower than the industry standard backorder rates. We installed a new telephone system that connects you to an assigned employee with no delay. This echoes our commitment to correct any mistake at all cost. I think our 47 years of legacy was possible because of our reputation and honesty as well as our products.

Asked 2nd Generation BY KYOUNGHYUN HAN
BNB Magazine December 2019 ©bnbmag.com