Bill Xiang and the Pursuit of happiness: The owner of two beauty brands shares his inspiring story
Skincare and beauty is a multi-billion dollar industry and it’s only growing. With thousands of beauty brands, you can only imagine how hard it is to enter this industry. But, imagine starting everything from scratch and only being left with your last 30 dollars.
This is the story of Bill Xiang, a man with a vision and persistence that made his way from China to Southern California and is the founder of two beauty brands, RealHer and Lorde+Belle.
"I say that my life is divided into three phases: the pursuit of money, the pursuit of achievement and the pursuit of happiness".
How was life during the ‘pursuit of money’ phase?
"My dad was a carpenter and we didn’t have much money. I remember it was Chinese New Year, and as a tradition, we put some money in a red envelope and sent it to relatives. We had only 30 dollars left for the whole year and I overheard this conversation between my parents."
"At that moment, a seed was planted; the desire of making more money. But what can a 10-year-old do? Just study! I was the top of my class. And it was at high school that I really started taking action toward making money. I did what I could to help; became a salesman for my dad to help his business too. And then in college I was selling computers and computer parts and these jobs made me step out of my comfort zone.I was a very shy person, but I would do anything to achieve my ultimate goal at that phase: making more money."
"I knew I wanted to have my own business. I also studied hard about business myself in college and soon after, I started implementing my business ideas. I started many projects like a 3D graphic design company, a company that sells consumer electronic, and many others, but of course everything failed.... none of them worked."
"And then, finally, I got an opportunity in the beauty industry, becoming a sales rep for a factory.One question a lot of people ask me is: why did you choose this industry? My answer is: I didn’t the choose beauty industry; it chose me. So
I think this is fate."
What was the turning point that made you go into ‘the pursuit of achievement’ phase?
"I worked as a sales rep, selling cosmetics products from China to US mainly. I would stay up in the night till 2am and 3am almost everyday because of the time difference; and I would be doing tons of cold calling, and cold emailing."
"I got rejections after rejections, at some point I doubted myself, but I didn’t give up, and honestly speaking I didn’t have a choice; I was pursuing my goal, my desire of making money was so deep. The first two years, my hard work paid off and I was able to sell about $30 million worth of products."
"Then after that, it really comes to my pursuit of achievement phase of life."
"I got a place and started hiring people with the same work drive and mindset as me, and the business started to grow day after day. I had so many goals I wanted to achieve; I wanted the company to grow, to make more money and just climb the stairs of success."
When did you realize that you wanted to pursue happiness?
"Two moments that made me realize I wanted to pursue happiness and changed my mindset. The first inspiration is the moment when I sat at a park with my wife, watching our kids play. I remember I told myself: why am I doing all these crazy things? Happiness is so simple!"
"And my second inspiration is realizing the happiness of watching my people in my previous companies grow. I started my company in 2009, and we were celebrating the 10th anniversary, when a lot of people were coming to the stage talking, and I realized there were so many people working for 7-8 years already. Seeing these people working with the company since day one, growing with it and showing gratitude made me think: this makes me feel..happy and proud."
"Back then we weren’t one of those companies that’s very organized and has a culture, but at that moment I realized that, even though it had remained unspoken, we had built a culture. It was a culture of home."
"Some people work for us for over a decade. Some of them used to come into work with their bicycle and now they own cars. Some were young and now they are parents. Watching my employees grow made me realize that this is more than my previous mindset of expanding the company. I am grateful that they have stuck with me during all these years."
What do Lorde+Belle and RealHer mean to you?
"It’s been about 15 years since I started my own business. Of course, I hope these turn into profitable brands, not only for me, but for everyone working there. I want us to grow together and earn together. We have workers working with me for over a decade, through the good and the bad. We have created a culture at Lorde+Belle and RealHer, a culture of family."