Demee Koch, CEO of DE Moi, has always been motivated in achieving concrete results and creating a positive impact. She created DE Moi in 2018 to combine two of her passions: developing beauty products of substance and championing important causes. She is looking back on a career in the beauty industry spanning over two decades. As a speaker, guest author, and commentator on the subject of conscious beauty and entrepreneurship, she strongly advocates healthy beauty, inclusivity, empowerment, and social impact. She also supports various other charity organizations working to improve the lives of others like the Voice of the Free, a hybrid organization that combines social care, social entrepreneurship, and mobilizing social movements to achieve lasting social change. She joined the Breaking Silence Movement, a private, non-profit organization that fights gender-based violence as a board member.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I had a very simple life in the Philippines living on an island in Cebu. I went to school and excelled in my academics. I can still remember what I wrote in my high school yearbook, “I want to be a philanthropist someday”. Fast forward to today I fulfilled that dream through becoming a multipreneur.
The world of work is complicated especially when you are young and fresh out of school or university – full of prejudice. I felt I was surrounded by people who experience work too apprehensively or even completely negatively. I left the Philippines because I wanted to explore the world and understand how it operates. So I thought I could do big things. The only way to do that is to explore and go out of my comfort zone. It started as an adventure. I was offered a job as a management trainee for different multinational companies being in the top ten of the graduating class.
Even if it seems like a cliché, the truth is, I have failed a thousand times before getting the result. The prejudice of what I did can lead to my optimistic approach towards the world of work and entrepreneurship. We tend to forget that some unpleasant situations have happened for reasons that may be up to us. The result is suffering that never translates into the success we hope for. Having worked in more roles, functions, companies, and industries in Dubai, my journey led me to Switzerland which became my home base after finishing my MBA studies in International Marketing at the Swiss Business School in Zurich. I operated a grooming salon which became a one-stop lounge offering high-level pampering services in Switzerland before I put up DE Moi in 2018.
If Warren Buffett did it, I can too. Right? I personally do not use this as my mantra. Following the instructions of a person who has reached the top is not always the solution to our current career problems. We often let ourselves be seduced by the motivational speeches of people in prominent positions, believing that their methods are the same that will lead us to success. When the hardships seem to never end, I always ask myself what am I doing wrong. Persevering is the right way to act, but perhaps it may be necessary to change the operating method. Stand up, show up, and deliver.
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
As an immigrant woman from the Philippine islands, I experienced my fair share of prejudices and rejections, including statements like “others are better than you,” “you don’t understand,” “you don’t belong here,” and “you stay behind.” I only wanted to change the beauty industry with the best of intentions by educating people about how brilliance knows no bounds with respect to race or gender.
We must question ourselves, “What does rejection mean?” Let’s all refrain from discussing rejection. We must assign defeat a constructive value, one that causes us to pause and assess the best course of action going forward. We need to stop teaching people the success myth. Above all, we need to know how to handle failure since it’s a part of life. You might lose your job, have a loved one leave you, or have a project fail, but you need to know how to go on..
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea that made you start this brand? How did such a unique idea strike you, and what motivated you to “YES, go for it?”
I’ve worked hard for more than two decades to build my cosmeceutical company. I had this idea to make something that would transform people’s lives after this happened. When a worker called in sick, I recollect having to step in to assist a cancer survivor who required eyelash extensions. The moment the client saw how she had changed, she started crying. I was immediately driven to discover a product that would handle the concerns, which included temporary lash loss and eye irritation. I recognized the commercial potential of eyelash extensions, but I also recognized its potential drawbacks. This is after I managed a grooming salon in Switzerland that evolved into a one-stop lounge offering top-tier pampering services. My businesses are the culmination of my experience in understanding customers. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished as well as the people I’ve met along the way who helped me get to where I am now.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
Courage, risk tolerance, resilience, and handling ambiguities together with my passion for developing beauty products of substance and championing important causes is what I have equipped myself with in the past two decades. With the ability to navigate ambiguities and complexities with experience and success, I took risks to rule in the highly competitive beauty industry.
The beauty business is increasingly focusing on the development of sustainable cosmetics, which are designed to fulfill the changing needs of customers while simultaneously reducing the industry’s environmental effect. Products manufactured with natural ingredients and aimed toward environmental sustainability are in high demand. Natural ingredients, recyclable or sustainable packaging, and a focus on the entire manufacturing chain are of utmost importance. Based on the moral values of honesty and justice, my Swiss firm DE Moi offers cruelty-free, socially relevant, and environmentally responsible products. It has a combined industry experience of more than two decades, spanning every area of a beauty business from product development to branding and consumer satisfaction.
As the CEO of DE Moi, I strive to be a catalyst for positive change in the world by spreading awareness about the necessity of spending wisely on items that benefit society while also not harming animals or the environment.
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
When I decided to become an entrepreneur, I knew for sure I would always be on the move… Practically unstoppable! But there were times that hit a wall and felt like there was no escape. It’s a familiar feeling for anyone running a business, especially these days. But It is precisely in moments of difficulty that true entrepreneurs are recognized, those who know how to get out of problems thanks to their ingenuity. It is also about learning how to deal with failure and continue to work despite the fear and difficulties. But for everyone a fundamental rule applies: never indulge in inaction! Even if investments are inevitably decreasing, it is important to continue to act and seek comparison , to better adapt to changes.
Our daily life is made up of challenges. We strongly support them when the “prize” at stake is tempting and we try to dodge them or postpone them when we don’t like them, knowing that sooner or later we will have to deal with them.
In challenging situations, a leader knows how to discover and take alternative paths, how to hold on and keep going, even when the result seems to drift away. Life’s challenges are obstacles to overcome, puzzles to solve or fears to face. Sometimes a moment is enough, sometimes it takes commitment and consistency over time. In any case, we should start by identifying goals that are clear, realistic and in harmony with our values .
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
Unfortunately we are still in the middle of the devastating year and morale suffers a lot, especially because there is no improvement in the short term, quite the contrary! Even while the response greatly depends on the industries and markets in which businesses operate, the situation is challenging for everyone. As we all know, some industries are working even harder than others, such as the medical field, personal services, agri-food, and ICT.
It is in moments of the most intense and bitter crisis that the market is clamoring for two immortal virtues: originality and value. Entrepreneurs that have successfully navigated through the crisis are able to adapt to a volatile and shifting market. I survived as a result of this. I say, be tenacious with the passion to offer the market something unique and valuable. DE Moi has quickly grown its business and taken over the shelves of many beauty product stores around the world and that is because of the value the brand gives to the ever-changing beauty industry.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
I am humbled to be named one of the most influential Filipinas in the world by Global FWN and to receive accolades from the Universal Peace Federation UK, an NGO with general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, as an Ambassador of Peace.
I have become a Forbes Business Council member and influencer where I regularly write articles about sustainable business and conscious leadership. I am a board member and shareholder of Luxvivendi, a platform celebrating the finest in luxury products, services, food, and luxury experiences. My legacy will be incorporating my advocacy in conscious entrepreneurship. I am also on the Board of Advisory of the boxing brand SPARBAR.
But what is really close to my heart are the charity organizations I support like the Voice of the Free, a hybrid organization that combines social care, social entrepreneurship, and mobilizing social movements to achieve lasting social change. Recently, I have also joined the Breaking Silence Movement a private, non-profit organization that fights gender-based violence as a board member.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
Making a solid personal development plan helped me express my potential and become the best version of myself when I was just beginning to think about how to improve in the best way. My aim was to become the best version of myself by my standards, not better than others. Women, in my opinion, are the key to creating a new world. Without becoming sucked into the relationship or succumbing to false security myths, a discerning woman can support her boyfriend, kids, and friends. We may shine without throwing shadows on others and create a better world without relying on reflected light when we are free of shame, criticism, and competitiveness.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
I’ve frequently been thrown into a lot of adjustments in a sometimes-sensitive way. Other times required. I have discovered from all these changes that I have consistently been able to push myself beyond what I believed I was capable of, seeing how much our mental limitations may prevent us from developing personally. We must step outside of our comfort zones if we are to progress. Our comfort zone is a place where we feel safe and secure. At certain moments, being in this location might bring about peace and even well-being.
For me, personal progress means exploring new areas and horizons as well as conquering obstacles. I’m not referring to journeys across the globe, but rather to journeys within. The most enigmatic and significant “location” can be located there. If we want to discover happiness, we have to get there. I’m deeply fascinated by the topic of personal development. Even though we are sidetracked by hardships in life, it is our destiny to reach our potential and give our all. Our dreams are connected to our purpose.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
Stereotypes, balancing a profession and a personal life, lights and shadows, prejudices, and unfavorable labels all have an impact on the paradigms of female leadership. The woman at the top always seems to be an adjective. Bossy, cunning, resolute, alluring, and insane. Adjectives are rarely complimentary. The paradox is that women’s leadership is desperately needed at all levels, and not just for reasons of parity. Being aware is insufficient to drive for genuine change. Women cannot change the context until they are no longer the minority. Women who made a difference in the world never had to display anything other than their intelligence.
We must examine why things are done, including our feelings of inadequacy, how much money we spend, the people we associate with professionally and socially, and the amount of time we spend working and caring for our families, not because we enjoy them but rather because they are dictated by outside forces.
Considering these issues increases awareness. It promotes self-empowerment and a sense of personal authority. Only when the female presence is full-bodied does it make a difference. because women can learn from, support, and serve as role models for one another. You empower yourself and launch a feminist revolution by establishing influence and power through skill and accomplishments rather than merely physical attractiveness and conventional norms. For us to completely address gender-based concerns, judgment between women needs to be eradicated.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Some outstanding women succeed in male environments, but we shouldn’t require exceptionality; we should need normalcy. The notion that women must be flawless to fulfill responsible responsibilities is not a part of the solution; rather, it is a problem. Women shouldn’t merely serve as ideals of perfection and beauty. They don’t have to be perfect and unachievable; rather, they should change the game by listening to others, developing their abilities, and promoting women’s leadership and empowerment.
Today’s women are strong and extremely intelligent. They have the ability to establish and maintain relationships, are aware of their bodies, clearly understand how to live in their bodies, are aware of what is right and wrong to do, and they continue to bloom on their flowering path to self-care and self-love like flowers from the asphalt, spontaneous and rebellious.
Women, be you!