Charlotte Cho is an esthetician and co-founder of Soko Glam, an e-commerce company that pioneered the ubiquity of Korean beauty brands and K-beauty techniques like “double cleansing,” and Then I Met You, a direct-to-consumer beauty brand. Her book, The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin, introduced the 10-step skincare routine to an American audience in 2015. Her miniature poodle, Rambo, is chief motivational officer at her Madison Square Park office.
Did you grow up with pets?
I’ve always loved animals. I became obsessed with dogs at a young age. I used to look through the local PennySaver (pre-internet days!) to see what dogs were on sale, and I often spent hours at pet stores when I was growing up. I begged my parents until they finally gave in, and I got a Chihuahua mix named Bubbles. I’ve also had hamsters, fish, cats, and turtles, so I was always into caring for pets!
“They say there are fewer people in Korea having kids and more people choosing to find pet companions instead.”
How did Rambo come into your life?
Dave [my husband] and I adopted him from a friend in Seoul when he was one. We both had dogs growing up, so we were ready for this.
Where did Rambo’s name come from?
Rambo was actually the runt of the litter and they didn’t expect him to survive, so the original owner gave him the strongest name they could think of. The name Rambo is very fitting for him now because he’s actually the strongest, fastest miniature poodle I know. And he’s also very smart.
Can you tell us about the Korean attitude towards pet dogs? When I was in Seoul in 2016, I noticed hypoallergenic dogs were very popular in the pet shops, and that there were so many puppy cafés where you could drink coffee and play with puppies at the same time!
Yes, hypoallergenic dogs are very popular in Korea. They also love dogs that do not shed and are small. Most people in Seoul live in apartments, so toy poodles are the perfect size for their lifestyle. When I was living in Korea from 2009 to 2013, there was less of an interest in raising dogs, but that has dramatically changed over the years amongst the younger generation. They say there are fewer people in Korea having kids and more people choosing to find pet companions instead.
Do you bring him to work often? (I read that he’s the chief motivational officer!)
I take Rambo out and bring him into the office from time to time. Our team loves him. But Rambo has a bit of anxiety, so the vet recently recommended we keep him at home where it can be more relaxed and routine for him. Sometimes there is a lot going on at the office and he can get more anxious, especially if I disappear to a meeting outside of the office. We live in Brooklyn now and he loves it!
People say that when they bring their dogs to work, they meet more co-workers. Have you ever had a similar experience?
Yes, it’s nice to bond with neighbors over dogs. I love taking him to McCarren Park where we can unleash him before 9am. He’s getting better at socializing with other dogs and it’s a really friendly environment. It’s so fun to see the different personalities of dogs and to get to know their owners.
Do you have any nicknames for Rambo and do you ever speak to him like a baby?
My nickname for him is Buddy, which is a pretty standard nickname. I definitely do speak to him like he’s a baby when I’m cuddling with him, because even at 10 years old he is like our little baby!
What are some of Rambo’s favorite dog toys and how does he like to play?
He loves playing fetch with his ball! That’s his jam. He’ll destroy most dog toys within a day, so when we do get him a new toy, we have to make sure it’s indestructible. We’re always using Kong toys and accessories. He especially loves the Squeakair balls.
Tell us a bit about Rambo’s personality! Is he a forever puppy? A gentleman?
Rambo is super sweet and smart. He can run faster than any dog I know, and he has the hops too! He can run for hours without getting pooped, even at age 10.
Where do you like to shop for Rambo? Can you please share some of your favorite dog brands? What do you feed Rambo?
That’s what I feed my dog, too! Love Taste of the Wild. A lot of dog owners identify with their dogs in some way. The joke is that when they talk about their dogs, they actually mean themselves. Do you identify with Rambo or think of Rambo as your child?
Yes! I sometimes mix up Rambo’s name with my little brother’s or nephew’s name—which is so bizarre but it happens all the time.
“I’ve found it’s much easier to think of innovations in skin care, but much, much more difficult to actually create them.”
What was Soko Glam like when you first started?
I started Soko Glam in 2012 curating only a handful of products and brands, which I kept in a closet and shipped out from home. Now there are over 45 of the best Korean brands curated to Soko Glam and I couldn’t be more proud of the team that has helped grow our curation to this level. Most importantly, this curation is trusted as we have hundreds of reviews and testimonials from people who have seen their skin transform for the better.
How did Then I Met You come about? What was missing from K-beauty that inspired you to start it?
I am incredibly passionate about my new skin care line, Then I Met You that focuses on going deeper on ingredients, formulas, and an effective experience. It’s also rooted in the Korean concept of Jeong, which is a deep emotional connection you can cultivate with someone or something over time. I decided to launch with two products, the Living Cleansing Balm (an oil cleanser) and the Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel (a water-based cleanser) because double cleansing changed my life and helped me create a clean foundation for my skin!
What’s your current skincare routine?
My morning and evening routines always start with the double cleanse using Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm to remove oil-based impurities and the Then I Met You Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel to remove any remaining impurities. To add some hydration and natural brighteners to my skin, I soak my skin with the Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Toner. The next layer of hydration comes from the Neogen Micro Essence, which contains my favorite fermented ingredients. If I have a bit of time, instead of the essence, I’ll apply a calming sheet mask from Benton. If I’m breaking out, I’ll use a Cosrx Pimple Patch to flatten it out as soon as possible. I always protect the fine skin around my eyes with the Mamonde Floral Eye Cream. During the day, I protect my skin from the sun rays with sunscreen with the Thank You Farmer Light Sun Essence.
What is one piece of advice you would give to beauty entrepreneurs who are starting now?
I’ve found it’s much easier to think of innovations in skin care, but much, much more difficult to actually create them. If you’re looking to get into the beauty space, don’t take the easy way out and white label generic formulas and slap on your label. Instead, couple your passion with technical knowhow and your network to push and create a product that stands out in the marketplace.
Photography by Tayler Smith