When you say K-Beauty, no doubt you think about cosmetics with pop and wacky packaging, incongruous ingredients, and resolutely Kawaii and regressive designs. However, French-Korean brand Mi-rê proves these clichés wrong. The two founders, Elizabeth Tremosa and Miseong Kim, have a very definite idea of the identity they want for their cosmetics. Here is a portrait.
Mi-rê is among the first K-Beauty brands to have penetrated the French territory. And yet, initially, nothing about the two founders suggested they would create it, given how far they lived from each other.
On the one hand, there is Elizabeth Tremosa. Although she has Mexican origins, she has lived and worked in France for years. She has a passion for cosmetics. After working as an Export Manager for several brands like Nuxe and Yves Saint-Laurent, she decided to found a consulting agency to help other groups export to Europe.
Then, she was internally recruited by Garancia. Although she had an interesting experience there, Elizabeth Tremosa got a little bored. An idea gradually matured in her mind: creating her own brand. ‘I felt like I had had enough of giving others all my good ideas, I felt more and more like working on my own cosmetics project,’ she recalls.
But if she was excellent at sensing trends and perpetuating a brand’s projects, she was less good at designing cosmetics. Definitely open about it, she used her network to pass on the message she was looking for someone to associate with and found a brand.
Miseong Kim was on the other side of the planet, in South Korea. The young woman started her career working for a French cosmetics importer in Korea. Then, thanks to other experiences, she was also immersed in beauty product formulation.
She quickly felt the same frustration as Elizabeth Tremosa. It was all very well to work for others, but it would better to work for herself.
As she often went to Europe as part of her professional activities, Miseong Kim realized she could not find the cosmetics she was used to buying at home. What if she helped European women discover K-Beauty? Good idea… except she did not know the market or where to start to launch a brand.
Whatever! She decided to develop a cushion, a typically Korean product prototype, catch a plane to France, and find the ideal associate.
Chance moves in mysterious ways
Back to Paris. Elizabeth Tremosa often did sports with a neighbour of hers also from the beauty industry.
Aware that Elizabeth was looking for a partner to launch her brand, this friend talked to her about a young woman she met at a cosmetics show. ‘Miseong Kim and my friend started talking as they were queuing for lunch. They gave each other their business cards. I got Miseong’s contact details and called her immediately,’ Elizabeth Tremosa reveals with a smile.
They met each other at Elizabeth Tremosa’s. They did not know each other at all, had no idea who they would talk to on that day, and yet it was professional love at first sight. ‘We did not even realize we had been talking for four hours. Very quickly, we found out we shared the same vision of beauty, work, and life in general. There were 20 years between us, but we understood we were soul sisters,’ Elizabeth Tremosa recalls. They decided to associate right after their first meeting. After all, such a twist of fate could not be overlooked.
They started working on the cushion prototype developed by Miseong Kim. Elizabeth Tremosa instantaneously saw how attractive this concept would be, but it needed to be adapted to the French market to meet consumer expectations.
They focused on the first product of their BB Nova range, a sort of foundation with a floaty, moisturizing texture. Elizabeth Tremosa explains that right from the beginning, ‘we put an emphasis on healthy formulas that would preserve the skin.’
It was also crucial to find a name. The two founders agreed to give the brand a Korean identity. ‘At first, we chose the term Mi-in, which means “beautiful woman”. But as we found out another company had a very similar name, we changed for Mi-rê, which means “beautiful future”. But the Mi-in logo does appear on our packaging, because all women are beautiful and deserve the best fate,’ she explains.
100% K-Beauty products
Based in Seoul, Miseong Kim takes care of Mi-rê’s R&D, while her counterpart is in charge of the brand’s development and communication.
Out of sight, out of mind? Not for them: the creators visit each other several times a year.
Mi-rê has come a long way since it was launched. Three other products joined the range: Dual Nova Contouring&Highlighter and Dual Nova Blush&Highlighter for the complexion, and Brow Plume Perfection to densify brows.
They are all made in Korea and based on typical ingredients like water from Jeju Island.
While they wanted to highlight Korean know-how, the two designers decided to depart from the K-Pop norm. They chose an elegant, sober design for their cosmetics. Mi-rê use no loud colours or cute pandas: they leave this segment for others.
In addition, packaging is devised to be as smart and ergonomic as possible. To Elizabeth Tremosa, who is much used to putting on makeup in the cab between two flights, ‘a woman’s makeup kit should be minimalist!’
Distributed in 16 countries, Mi-rê took on the challenge to convert Europe to South-Korea-made cosmetics.
The story does not end here for the brand. Elizabeth Tremosa eventually revealed they have been ‘developing a mouth product and trying to invent a new beauty gesture. Women are modern times heroines, so we need to simplify their lives, even in their beauty routine.’ Now, that makes our mouth water!