Founders Of Color Q&A: Tower 28's Amy Liu

Founders Of Color Q&A: Tower 28's Amy Liu On Building A Sephora-Loved Brand With A Cult Following

She personally responds to every single brand DM.

Tower 28

On paper, Amy Liu appears to be one of the most intimidating women in the beauty business. Not only did she launch her beauty marketing career at legendary Smashbox Cosmetics, she went on to lead luxury, high-end brands like Kate Somerville and Josie Maran — just to name a few.

But sitting down to meet Liu for the first time in an underground New York bar over a year ago felt like meeting a friend I'd known since childhood. As she walked into the bar in a chic red dress, it was impossible not to feel her immediate warm presence. When she talks about her history as an entrepreneur (and truly, at heart, she always was one), you don't get the sense that she's selling you anything, though with her impeccable taste, I'd use anything that had her glowing review attached to it.

Tower 28's range of luxury products are all vegan, cruelty-free, and follow the guidelines of the National Eczema Association. One of the best parts is the way Liu offers a luxury experience at an accessible price — everything in her line is under $30. But her products don't just do good, they're actually extremely effective. I use every single product in her line, from the multi-purpose eye, cheek, lip balms, to the lip jellies that honestly feel good enough to eat (and, I kind of do).

The newest from her line, the bronzers which come in two high-glow shades, are the only cheek products I've worn this entire quarantine. Liu's clean ingredients are trustworthy, and my skin has never looked so good for FaceTime dates.

Liu is a master storyteller — every brand she touches turns to gold — which is precisely what makes her such a great marketer, businesswoman, friend, and role model. Tower 28 is synonymous with Amy Liu, and this is her story.

What is the story you hope to tell with Tower 28?

My mission was to create an approachable beauty company inclusive of all skin tones, skin types, budgets, and beauty philosophies - but one that's still fun and reflective of the healthy LA lifestyle I know and love.

At the heart of Tower 28 is the message that #ItsOkayToBeSensitive.

Beyond our commitment to create products with zero irritating ingredients (we are currently the only makeup brand to follow the National Eczema Association's guidelines), that message carries through to a larger conversation about being true and kind to yourself.

What has been your biggest challenge and highlight as a business owner?

I've had the good fortune to work for several founder-based brands and historically spent my time crafting and telling someone else's story. I'm fairly extroverted, but I'm not naturally someone who likes to or knows how to talk about myself.

Being comfortable in my own skin is a lifelong challenge.

But, through my work with Tower 28, which is closely tied to my own personal story, I've discovered my voice.

How much does coming from a marginalized community play into your day-to-day business?

My parents were the first Chinese people to live in their small town in Minnesota. After arriving there in the '70s from Taiwan, my dad realized there were very few options for a career in corporate America as an immigrant.

So, he leaned into his natural entrepreneurial inclinations almost out of necessity. Seeing his passion for his work and his unstoppable drive to pave his own way in America absolutely inspired me to start my own business many years later. It also influences my decisions as a business owner in day-to-day choices.

I'm consciously trying to build Tower 28's team to be a diverse one, reflective of many different walks of life and with an entrepreneurial spirit.

How do you feel social media and community-building has impacted your business?

Our community is the reason Tower 28 is here today. We use social media as a platform to engage with our fans on a daily basis, which is so valuable.

I personally answer each and every DM that comes in.

Reading these questions, concerns, and ideas drives me to better our business and even inspires our plans for future product launches.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don't let fear rule you! Even though I had an incredible role model in my father, I had so many moments of self-doubt when taking the leap from a steady career into the unknown as an entrepreneur. It's so important to trust your gut intuition, even when that voice inside your head is causing you to doubt yourself.

What can we expect from the future of Tower 28?

We're working hard to develop and launch a few new products that our community has been asking for. We want to fill the void on your beauty shelf and develop products that are truly non-toxic, non-irritating, high performance… and above all: fun!

Rapid Fire

What are your favorite accounts to follow on social media?

@chrissyteigen and @sarablakely really crack me up because they are so real and funny about mom life. Sara Blakely also talks a lot about starting her business and entrepreneurship, which I love. And of course, I'm such a fan of @katiejanehughes who is so chatty and makes makeup seem so easy.

To what one characteristic of yours do you attribute your success?

Showing up. Both for the people in my life and for myself!

Tell us a book you'd recommend.

"The Four Agreements."

What charities do you support?

A number of them. We regularly support Heal the Bay. Tower 28 is a real lifeguard tower, and I am genuinely a fan of beach conservation and love their mission of sustainability as well. For the holidays we gifted DonorsChoose gift cards to our influencers. With current events lately we have also donated to Feeding America and the Firefighters of Los Angeles.

What is the item in your closet you wear the most?

I almost wish I was lying, but my Tower 28 sweatshirt! Sounds like a shameless plug but honestly it's so cozy, and now that we are WFH, I wear it way too much. It's actually become a joke on our company zoom calls bc we are always all wearing it!

What is the one skincare product you can't live without?

Our SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray quite literally saved my skin. I no longer have to rely on prescription steroids to keep my eczema in check!

What is on your nightstand?

Phone, glasses, SOS spray, candle

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