Second Generation Brotherhood: Evan Yu…

Second Generation Brotherhood: Evan Yu & Andrew Lee

Jenny Beauty Supply in Dallas, Texas

With a K-pop star-like visual and a charm like a prince, they have an appearance of celebrities, but they are sweet managers to their staff members and customers. We met two young leaders of the beauty retail industry. Two young brothers working togeth-er! Mr. Evan Yu, who just became 30, is the elder of the two and has worked for eight years in the industry, and his cousin Mr.Andrew Lee started working with him about three years ago. They are injecting their youthful energy into Jenny Beauty Supply, a giant beauty supply retail store located about 30 minutes south of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in Texas.Jenny Beauty is named after the wife of its founder Jungwook Lee. Back in the heyday of Jenny Beauty, chairman Sukchan Yu, who was the founder’ s cousin, had immigrated to the U.S., and the brothers grew the business together. Today their sons inherited the business and are leading its advance as a beauty supply superstore. Conducting interviews with the two young business leaders, an “of course” moment came no later than five minutes from the start. “There’ s nothing special about us that calls for an interview,” said shyly smiling Evan Yu who also firmly stated his business philosophy that innovative idea and affection toward the business would prevail over any hardship. “Managing time for a meeting with one more sales rep, boosting employee morale, and contributing to the community as well as beauty supply wholesale industry are crucial importance to us.” He enunciated every single word echoing his passion and humble-ness. Andrew Lee, who is assisting him with running the business, also displayed his vigor and passion in business management that is on par with Mr. Yu’ s.

BNB: How did you start working in the beauty supply industry?
Mr. Evan Yu: To be honest with you, it’ s largely because of my parents. However, if I had no interest in the business, then I wouldn’ t still be here. Without caring enough, it’ s hard to be this way. Since my early twenties, I had been accompanying my father to his business trips. I met senior executive officers of wholesale companies, listened to their business talks, and learned a lot while attending trade shows. Louis, who is the managing director at Hair Zone today, was right beside me carrying hairs for then his boss chairman.
Mr. Andrew Lee: There were days that my parents dragged me to the store, making me work part-time against my will. I’ ve been carrying around boxes since I was in the elementary school. That’ s probably why it feels natural like I’ ve been working for a long time in beauty. Here, I usually do marketing stuff like running advertisements, online services and Facebook, while trying to learn and assisting my big brother Evan.

BNB: What are the key differences since your parents retired from the business?
Mr. Yu: The previous generation delegated a lot to Korean employees, especially to those store managers. Now you need to make necessary changes. For the long-term success of the business, you need to invest in non-Korean staff who can be the core of the business. In other words, all ethnicities should be able to work together like in other retail businesses, namely Walmart and Target.For that end, we are moving toward a business structure that enables central management. Even if the number of retail stores increases to ten, there should be no problem under the new business structure. It takes the form of a pyramid where mangers in charge of each section of retail would communicate with store managers where single individual can function as a brain for the organization. Nevertheless, sudden changes can cause trouble, so we’ re making changes slowly. It would take a while to establish the new system.

BNB: Jenny runs Jenny Show several times a year, right?
Mr. Yu: Jenny Show is not about “making more profit by bringing more customers.” We started it in a hope that our customers could firsthand experience beauty shows that we attended from time to time. We invite 30 to 40 suppliers of chemicals, hairs, and miscellaneous items, and we provide a space for the show. Previously, we worked with Hair Zone for four to five years. Based on that experience, we made up our mind to create our own show, and that was the beginning. Twice a year, and always one in the back-to-school season, we host a show.
Mr. Lee: Now, quite many customers look forward to the next Jenny Show. We also had positive feedback from participating suppliers. They say it is a win-win because they can promote products directly to end users and customers can make purchases at a great price while learning a lot about the products.

BNB: What’ s your vision?
Mr. Yu: This is a business my parents grew working so hard day and night. I’ d like to grow it bigger moving beyond what they’ ve achieved. I believe they would be proud of us dreaming our store to become a retail chain enterprise. Based on Andrew’ s and my ideas, we’ re preparing for a new store. Our folks are looking forward to it.
Mr. Lee: We have manpower most of all. We have another little brother in my family. Three of us are going to work hard. One can supervise the East, and the other the West. Something like that. (Laughter) Mr. Yu: I can just piggyback on my little brothers because they always do their job very well. (Laughter)

BNB: You also learn from other stores?
Mr. Yu: I read an article about the fashion show and prom dress contest in this February sponsored by Beauty Master. I kind of felt a Neiman Marcus feel in the event. Although I couldn’ t attend the event myself, I learned a lot by reading the article and seeing the photos. They’ ve done a great job running a new style of show. That is not an easy task.

BNB: You had something you wanted to tell your staff.
Mr. Yu: I believe we’ re in the transition period. Though inheriting a business sounds simple, to keep the business running as well as before is not an easy thing to do. If you do not give up and push through, you will definitely have your rewards. We believe that our parents’ legacy, Jenny Beauty Supply, is still sailing smoothly only because of our mentors/general managers who had been working at Jenny more than 15 years as well as all other managers and employees we can rely on. “THANK YOU ALL!”
Mr. Lee: As the second-generation Dallas beauty suppliers who received the baton from the first-generation who made every-thing possible, we will keep running while making our best effort not to slow it down.

Asked 2nd Generation Sunny Kim
BNB Magazine August 2019 ©