Seoulfull Conversations with@beauty_and_seoul

Today on ‘Seoulfull Conversations with…’, I’d like to welcome total boss babe, Maree from @beauty_and_seoul. Maree and I go way back. Although she is the woman behind UK based K-Beauty online retail shop, Beauty and Seoul (a fabulous destination for all things K-Beauty, expertly and personally curated by Maree), she was also a fellow skincare instagrammer  and our friendship burgeoned before she transitioned into being a business owner. Our mutual love for a good Chateaux Neuf du Pape as well as anything from Korean brands such as Whamisa, and Cosrx meant that we quickly forged a friendship and in fact she was one of my first IG friend turned IRL friend. Maree is a Korean adoptee and in 2017, she quit her job and moved there for a year, in quest to find her birth parents. I’ve always been moved by her candidness over this subject and she chronicled and spoke openly about her struggles. Whilst Maree may not have founder her birth mother in Korean,  she did fall in love with K-Beauty. What I love the most is that her online shop isn’t just a business venture, it’s a true labour of love and a tribute to her motherland.  As well as making her favourite, cherry-picked affordable products hailing from Korea more accessible to us, she also runs an amazing YouTube channel. Best cocktail bar in South Korea? Best place to get a facial? She reveals it all on her very informative channel, it’s a veritable gem if you’re planning an unforgettable trip there…(when we can all travel again of course!) In this episode, we talk about her skincare routines (obviously they feature the latest  products being launched in the K-Beauty realm) and she shares with us her love of ramen. Also, scroll down for some totally adorable pictures of Kimchi, her furry baby.

I hope you enjoy this interview with Maree, founder of Beauty and Seoul.

A little bit about me…I’m Maree, the Founder and CEO of Beauty & Seoul, an online store curating trending Korean skincare. Right now, I am staying in and working at my home in West London with my husband, Steve, and miniature dachshund, Kimchi!  

The first thing I do in the morning is… give Kimchi a cuddle and my husband a kiss. I used to be in a bad habit of checking my emails first thing or jumping on Instagram but I am trying to refrain from checking my emails / phone until I sit down at my desk ready to start my day.

My morning skincare based on how my skin feels currently. At the moment, it’s normal/combination verging on the dry side with a little redness in my cheeks. Therefore, I am opting for lightweight formulations infused with soothing ingredients such as Centella and Green Tea. Contrary to what most people may think of Korean skincare routines, I only use 5 steps in the mornings and it takes me under 5 minutes to complete. I start with a gentle cleanser in the morning (currently I am using The Vegan Glow cleanser). I do not dry my face but go straight in with a toner to help prep my skin for subsequent steps. Currently, I am using the Isntree Green Tea Fresh Toner which is a great lightweight option for Spring. I then pat in my serum (this morning I used the Purito Unscented Centella Serum). For my moisturiser, I am currently testing out the Cosrx Propolis Light Cream which I am quite enjoying. Finally, even though I am staying indoors, I am putting on my SPF. I am now using the Troiareuke Acsen UV Protector Sun Essence which is one of my favourites.

Maree's morning skincare routine
Maree’s morning skincare routine

What my day looks like…I usually work from home so I’ve got quite a good routine. That said, now that I have Steve working at home with me, I do need to adapt! Our alarm goes off at 7am, then we let Kimchi out, make the bed and will have tea and breakfast together. At around 8am, we will both check our emails and work on the kitchen table until mid-morning. We have a 20 minute break for a HiiT workout together at around 11am. We will usually do another couple hours of work before lunch.  After lunch, we take Kimchi for a walk around the park next to ours which thankfully is not busy (this is the only time we leave the house each day). We will do another few hours of work and then take another break at around 4pm to do another 10-15 minute HiiT workout. If I can squeeze in a bath here I do, otherwise I’ll just have a quick shower. At around 6pm, I’ll start to prepare dinner. I love cooking and I find it therapeutic, especially in the evenings to unwind. We will then usually work for a little bit more in the evening and then at around 8pm we switch off and watch something on YouTube or Netflix, play Heads Up or talk to friends or family. Our usual bed time is around 11pm.

Picture of maree's dog

Exercise, yay or nay? Yes we are, it is so important to my routine! Currently, I am doing YouTuber Emi Wong’s routines every day. She has 10-30 minute HiiT exercise routines that require no equipment and no jumping (great for me because I have a dodgy knee from playing football when I was younger.) I’ll try and mix up a few so full body HiiT in the morning and then arms, legs or abs in the afternoon. We also take Kimchi for a 5mile walk around our neighbourhood park every day

My OOTD is…very casual. When I wake up, I put my gym gear on straight away so I have NO excuses not to exercise! I’ll wear this until I shower and then after I shower I go straight in to comfy trousers or loungewear. I haven’t worn make up for about 2 weeks!

Some new things I’m trying right now…are to push me out of my comfort zone to keep me motivated, such as Instagram Lives, trying yoga or cooking a recipe that I haven’t made before. I don’t think I’ve picked up any new skills per se, although I can now do diamond push-ups which I am happy about!

Maree and her miniature dachshund Kimchi
Maree and her miniature dachshund Kimchi

How I’m really feeling…as someone who suffers from anxiety and previously suffered from quite bad depression, I am actually very proud of myself for how I am handling the current situation. I think that for many, it is the unknown that is the most difficult part. The first week, I experienced quite a lot of anxiety. Steve and I both run our own businesses so are less financially covered or secure than those in full time employment. But it actually forced me to prioritise, scenario plan and improve my skillset as a CEO.  I am also a massive extrovert, I get my energy from other people, so I have found it quite tough not being able to socialise. What helps? Sticking to a routine, not putting pressure on myself and acknowledging how very thankful I am for many things such as my health, my family etc. I sincerely have utmost respect for all key workers, care staff and NHS workers that are so heroic in this fight against COVID-19. Thinking of the sacrifices they are making, gives me strength. 

My last Netflix binge was…Tiger King. I seriously don’t even know where to begin explaining what Tiger King is about so check it out on Netflix!

My favourite YouTubers to watch are…James Welsh for all things skincare. Him and his brother Robert, a make-up artist, put me in a good mood and whenever I meet up with James, he always has me in giggles. Collaborating with him, I really respect him and he is such a great, fun YouTuber to watch. I also love watching Korean Englishman and Jolly for some laughs and also food/travel channels like Chonny Day, Gabie Kook and Maangchi. On Audible, I am currently listening to Invisible Women: exposing data bias in a world designed for men. Fascinating and frustrating. I am also currently reading is Mindset. As a business owner, something I continue to work on is my growth mindset and this book really helps me. It’s essentially about how it’s your mind that stops you from reaching your full potential, how to overcome this and how to foster learning and nurture resilience.  

Everyday I look forward to…that time in the evening where Steve and I are both relaxed on the couch watching something, switching off and Kimchi is in between us asleep. It’s when I am most relaxed!

My guilty pleasure is…baths. And Shin Ramyeon – I swear, I could live off instant noodles. Not the two together…. Although…?!

I’m so grateful for…so many things. I am grateful for the NHS and all key workers working tirelessly to protect us. For my health, which is something you can so easily take for granted. I am also grateful for the huge support for Beauty & Seoul, the messages and connections I have made through it. Also, a shout out to technology and social media. It gets bad press and it has its faults, but in these times, it has also done wonders to bring people together.

How I’m staying in touch with my family and friends…Zoom or Houseparty! My best friends and I have a weekly catch up with a wine over Zoom and it’s so lovely. This week, we are doing a quiz. I am also thankful that I am able to see my parents over FaceTime.

My comfort food is…definitely instant noodles – you can take the girl out of Korea! They are my weakness. The most common dish I’ll make with what I have in my cupboard is fried rice. Leftover rice, soy sauce, onion and an egg – fry it up together and it’s tasty and filling.  Even better if you can add some frozen peas or some other veg.

My night time skincare routine starts with…a double cleanse. Currently I am using the Hanskin PHA Cleansing Oil followed by a foam cleanser I am testing out at the moment! I will then apply my toner before putting on a sheetmask. Depending on the condition of my skin that day, I will either go in for a brightening, moisturising or calming sheetmask. Afterwards, I will pat in the remaining essence, leave to absorb a little and apply my serum. I seal it all in with a night cream – currently I have open The Vegan Glow Good Night Cream and the Purito Cica Barrier Sleeping Pack which I’ll alternate depending on how my skin is feeling.

Evening skincare routine featuring K-Beauty cult classics
Evening skincare routine featuring K-Beauty cult classics

I’m absolutely loving…Troiareuke TOC Toner – a low pH toner infused with Centella, Glycolic Acid and Grapefruit. My skin loves it. And then I would have to say the Sioris Make it Bright Sheetmask – the first 100% recyclable, eco-friendly sheetmask. Infused with plum water, Centella, Ginseng, Niacinamide and Panthenol, it is highly nourishing and also smells delightfully of Neroli as well.  

One luxury item that I cannot live without at the moment…Eek, I would have to say my Jo Malone candles. Scented candles just put me in a better mood.

I’m currently coveting… all the skincare! I was supposed to be on my way to Seoul today so I had created my shopping list but unfortunately, the trip is obviously cancelled. On my list I had wanted to treat myself to a pair of Gentle Monster sunglasses. I was also very excited to try the latest products from Jumiso – especially their vitamin cleanser! I had also made a pact with myself that as soon as Beauty & Seoul hit a certain milestone, I would reward myself with something. We hit that milestone late last year but I haven’t treated myself yet! When quarantine is over and travel is permitted again, Steve and I are planning on having a nice relaxing holiday somewhere as, aside from business trips, we haven’t had one in 4 years. As we both run our own businesses, I think we need a little break!

After isolating, I cannot wait to… go and visit my parents. I also want to go to my warehouse and personally thank all my staff there for their tremendous hard work during this period. Aside from that, I am excited to have brunch with my friends!

What’s honestly keeping me sane right now is…exercise. It seriously puts me in a better mood and energises me for the day. On days when I can’t squeeze in a workout, it definitely impacts my mood.

 My advice to everyone right now is…stay home. Yes, the weather is nice now but sunbathing is not essential. Think of those that are risking their lives to save others. I recently spoke to my friend who’s a doctor and she said she was devastated after a 14 hour shift to come out of work and see people ignoring the advice to stay home.

For those suffering from anxiety or low mood, don’t put pressure on yourself. Take each day as it comes. Don’t feel guilty if you haven’t achieved what you set out to for the day. Accidentally slept in? Stayed in your PJs? Binge watched too much Netflix? Be easy on yourself. Everyone has their own threshold. Also, choose who you spend time with digitally, who you follow, what news you consume. These are all things I noticed that impacted my mood. These are unprecedented times – you do whatever YOU need to do to cope and pull through – that differs for everyone. We got this, take care x

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