Toni Ko

Founder and CEO | Bespoke Beauty Brands


Los Angeles

Featured In
CSQ Q1 2020,Visionary 

Toni Ko: The Beauty Industry Leader Gives an Inside Look at Her Recession-Proof Business

More than 20 years ago, Toni Ko created a new niche in the beauty industry with NYX, a line of high-quality, low-cost cosmetics. After selling NYX to L’Oréal for a reported $500M—and taking a five-year break—she launched her new company, Bespoke Beauty Brands, which partners with beauty influencers to develop their own lines.

What are your biggest business concerns surrounding COVID-19?
I am more worried about the aftermath than the current lock-down. I think most of the businesses can scramble and find ways to keep their pulses going for a couple of months during this lockdown, however, with the unemployment rate and expected inflation, how is the economy going to perform? Will consumers have as much appetite to spend as before?  

What is your current business strategy for dealing with the situation?
First and foremost, during times like these, cash is king. Preserving cash and managing payroll are my top priorities. Currently, I have my entire team [at Bespoke Beauty Brands] on half the pay and working half days, and everyone is working from home. I brought my desktop computer from my office and plopped it on my dining table. I also brought my printer home, etc. Basically, everything on my desk at the office moved over to my dining table at home, and I am trying to keep my days as normal as possible. We are always connected through Slack and Zoom and are constantly checking in with each other to set specific work tasks and make sure that task is completed.

How do you think things will look in your industry a year from now?
Luckily, I am in the cosmetics industry, and this is an industry known to be recession-proof. I have been through 9/11, SARS, and subprime. My business grew exponentially during the subprime crisis because I am in the beauty business, and, on top of that, my products are in the budget category. My business boomed because consumers were shopping down. With that said, I have a bright outlook on the industry I am in. 

Companies with mentally strong leaders will survive and the others will fold. 

What have you learned from other difficult times in the past?
This may sound cliché but, “tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” This is so very true. Companies with mentally strong leaders will survive and the others will fold. I want to make sure I don’t fall in the rabbit hole of fear and anxiety.

Toni Ko, Founder and CEO, Bespoke Beauty Brands

Safe–and entertained–at Home: What business leaders are doing with their downtime 


Morning routine?
Honestly, I was in a funk for the first several days, so I looked disheveled. I think that was my mourning period and it’s okay for everyone to have that. But I am now over that period and have started to wake up at my normal hour, 6AM, and go through my normal morning routine, with the exception of going to my yoga class. My commute is much shorter to and from the office! It’s now only about a minute to and from. 

Currently binging?
Tiger King. OMG!! 

Currently reading?
I’m trying to stay away from too much news, but I am watching a lot of CNN.

What are you doing to spend quality time with those you’re sheltering with?
My puppies are in heaven right now.   

What are you doing to stay healthy mentally and physically?
I’m not drinking too much alcohol, drinking more water, taking walks around the neighborhood, sitting under the sun for Vitamin D, and staying away from too much news.  

Where are you dreaming of visiting once things are back to normal?
ANYWHERE!! Especially anywhere with an Aman property. Most importantly, I am going to head to Costa Rica as soon as this is over and we are allowed to travel again.