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Meet the Founders: Victoria Ha and Dr. Van Park

Author: Emily McKay

06 Jul 2021

Interviews

“Hi guys,

I have this idea of building this website that is like a database of all the makeup brands and matching them so that if a person types in e.g., USING: Bare Minerals in Beige and selects the brand or product they want, e.g., MATCH WITH: Urban Decay Surreal Mineral Makeup. They press enter, and basically it will come up with the match…

What do you guys think?”

This short email, sent on a warm summers night in 2011, began a ten year journey of research, analysis, and database building to become the Match My Makeup that you know today.

Raised by “somewhat of a tiger mum,” sisters Victoria Ha and Dr. Van Park were working on opposites sides of the planet as a Silicon Valley IT lawyer and a Sydney cosmetic physician, respectively. When Makeup Forever launched its HD Foundation Victoria knew Van HAD to try it – but it wasn’t yet available in Australia. Van had a look online and couldn’t figure out what shade she would be. All she knew was that she wore shade Sand in her Bobbi Brown foundation, and asked Victoria to find the equivalent.

“I had to run back and forth between the department stores that stocked the foundation with colour swatches on my arms. The colours oxidised significantly with my sweat and the air and I was fraught with frustration,” Victoria explains. They realised there had to be a better way to find a shade match, and that night she sent out that first email to a few close friends with their idea.

Wanting the company to “be the authority in makeup and skincare,” they settled on the name of Match My Makeup to encompass the possibilities and vision they shared. They decided to start with foundation as it is “the base on which every other makeup sits” with the hope if expanding into all other colour cosmetic products (lipsticks are due for launch late this year!) and eventually skincare.

Both Victoria and Van had grown up with a passion for the beauty industry, having paid their way through university by working at makeup counters – Victoria at Christian Dior and Van at Australian beauty giant Mecca. These experiences led Van to specialise in aesthetics. Victoria jokes that “our mum had big plans for her and wanted her to save the world, so when Van told her that she wanted to specialise in aesthetics, she was given the silent treatment for months.”

Despite parents who thought “entrepreneur was a fancy word for crazy”, Victoria decided to return to Australia to “bootstrap and work” on developing Match My Makeup. “I had a quarter-life crisis and no longer wanted to be in law, I wanted to follow my passion in the beauty field,” Victoria remembers.

Teaming up with a local software developer, Van and Victoria developed their very first prototype. Although “he has no knowledge of makeup, he tries to understand us as best he can,” Victoria laughs. Despite his lack of knowledge of the beauty industry, he was “paramount in designing the whole system that we work off now.”

Despite knowing they were on to something special, both Van and Victoria were surprised by how quickly the company grew. “I started this off by saying ‘if one person logged on and found it useful – then I think my life’s purpose is done,’” Victoria says, reflecting on the early days of Match My Makeup. Through word of mouth, one viral Reddit post and with minimal marketing the company continued to grow. “I found myself saying ‘if one brand finds this technology useful, then I would die happy.’”

Since then, Match My Makeup has grown to become an essential tool for brands and department stores all over the world, as well as an “unbiased makeup authority for all things related to colour cosmetics,” helping thousands of makeup lovers find their foundation shade every day.

So what’s next for Match My Makeup? The team has been busy working on an upgraded matching tool that includes a foundation shade finder quiz as well as teaming up with some of Australia’s leading makeup artists to develop a lipstick recommendation tool. “When I think of the possibilities for Match My Makeup, it gets me uber excited and sparks something inside,” Victoria says. “When I think about what we could build and how we could incorporate thing into the Match My Makeup offering, I often can’t sleep nutting it out in my head.”

With aspirations to be “the Atlassians of the beauty world,” Van and Victoria hope their “baby before [their] real babies” continues to pioneer and innovate the industry.

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