Where Are They Now: Yanghee Paik of Rael
In honor of Women’s Equality Day, we are celebrating strong women doing amazing things by catching up with some of our favorite trailblazers.
What started as organic personal care quickly grew to be something greater. As Yanghee Paik, Founder of Rael, looks back on the road that led her here, her ultimate mission is clear: clean, sustainable, self-care products for all women. What comes with that? She’s focusing on empowerment and education, to help women be more mindful of what they put in and on their body and their own environmental impact. Not only that, she knows what it takes to bring equality into the workplace and is ready, and excited, to do her part.
We caught up with Yanghee to see how things were going at Rael, what she’s accomplished, and what the future holds. Off the bat, it sounds like mother nature is going to be very excited about it.
How has your business grown? Have you found that your work has evolved at all? If so, how?
Since my last interview back in March 2019, we successfully launched our organic cotton pads, liners, and tampons at Target stores across the country and added a few new items early this year, including our organic cotton compact applicator tampons and heating patches. What started as a digitally native brand in 2017 has evolved to become a consumer brand that is easily accessible by women wherever they’re shopping. We’re proud that we have successfully diversified our distribution across GetReal.com, Amazon, Target, Walmart.com, Anthropologie — it’s definitely been a very busy year.
We’ve branched out into clean skincare and body care. Now our products range from organic, natural, no-waste period care, personal hygiene, and clean skincare products. We’re becoming the go-to brand for women who are looking for innovative, clean, and effective solutions for everything they need around their personal care.
What are some of your favorite successes from the past few years?
Launching at Target was such a game-changer. Some of us went to see our products on the shelf when we launched last year, and we all had tears in our eyes seeing them in person. Even today, whenever I visit a Target, I am still so touched — it’s like a dream come true!
Additionally, we reached nearly 10,000 5-star reviews on Amazon, and launched our 2nd office in Seoul, Korea two years ago and have been actively expanding internationally. We get a lot of our inspiration from Korea’s novel technology and innovation, it helps us push the envelope when developing new products. We’re working to make Rael a globally recognized brand, and these are the steps we need to take to get there.
As a person, how have you developed and changed over the past year? Tell us all about it.
Previously, I was a movie distributor at the Walt Disney Studios for over seven years, I have come a long way to be where I am now as the CEO & Co-founder of Rael. I knew very little about how to build a startup company from scratch and deal with all the uncertainty and unstructured ways of doing business. I doubted myself sometimes on whether I had what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, but I did overcome my own fear and decided to trust myself and enjoy every moment in this crazy journey.
It is still scary to deal with this roller coaster ride, especially through a pandemic, but I believe that’s what makes our life dynamic and interesting. My goal is to focus more on positive things and celebrate our successes whenever we can, whether they’re big or small.
What’s next for you? Personally and/or professionally.
My biggest ambition still lies in growing Rael to be a globally recognized brand for women, known for its clean, holistic feminine care. We’d like to help women be more conscious of what goes in and on their bodies, and be mindful of their environmental impact, by showing them that there are natural, effective feminine care options.
I’d like to continue pushing myself to be a more effective leader and CEO. We have a wonderful team of experienced and passionate professionals. There were times in the past when I thought I needed to do everything on my own, but now I’ve learned to rely on the team of Avengers I was lucky enough to build to do this together. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to not settle when it comes to building your team, and to delegate, trust, and support the people you’ve hired so they can reach their full potential.
What do you think needs to happen for women to find equality, in and outside the workplace?
I’m a big believer that mentorship is a powerful foundation. I was lucky enough to find a lot of female mentors who were willing to share their experiences and advice on building a female-focused brand and tackling the funding process with VCs primarily run by men. The natural bond I found with fellow female entrepreneurs inspires me to push myself and cheers me up whenever I am dealing with hardships. Now I’m trying to give back in the same way to aspiring entrepreneurs by providing mentorship and help whenever I can.