From Concert Pianist to Successful Cosmetics CEO: How Angela Jia Kim Makes Her Passion Her Business

Angela Jia Kim went from being an award winning concert pianist to a successful Eco Beauty Entrepreneur. She accidentally discovered her future business-calling while on tour after having an allergic reaction to body lotion just before going on stage. From there an idea was born; along with her daughter, Sienna. Six years along, besides being a mom, she went on to become the CEO and Founder of Om Aroma & Co., an award-winning organic skincare brand; Savor Spa - an eco-skincare spa and the co-founder of - an empowering business organization for women entrepreneurs, which was chosen as Forbe's Best 100 Websites for Women. She is the guest presenter at the next Speak to Me event on January 26th; tickets are on sale now. I am honored to share an exclusive interview with Angela Jia Kim. 

What is at the heart of you're talk at the Speak to Me event on January 26th?

I am going to focus on how you can get what you want out of life with practical tips that you can do as soon as you leave the room. My plan is to share powerful and actionable secrets to creating success while savoring your life and the tools to successfully get those dreams out of your head and into your hands. 

What made you take this giant leap from a successful music career into the entrepreneurial world?

It’s a misconception that it was a huge leap because it was really a series of baby steps towards something I was passionate about, and I staircased my way to success. It started when I was on tour; I was about to walk out on stage when I put on “natural” body lotion and I broke out in hives in front of 100’s of people. This was so humiliating. I went home and for fun I made my own lotion in my kitchen. Every day I tried to improve it. I wasn’t an overnight success. It started as a hobby, then an interest, then became an expensive hobby, then it became a passion, then I thought I would launch my own business. 

How does your training as a concert pianist influence your current work? 

There are a lot of transferable skills; the discipline and ability to find solutions, perform under pressure, experience failure, continuing to learn, and keep going. These are all very important skills whether you are playing piano or launching a business. 

You do so many things. What’s the job title on your business card?

When people ask me, “What do you do?", I start laughing because this traffic jam happens in my brain with too many words that need to come out. I’m a business owner, a mom, and a wife. In a nutshell, it’s the cream that empowers others to dream. I launched this business. I didn’t know how to do it. But I did it. People ask me how I did it so I started Savor the Success and a whole list of resources, tools, products, and services to help people attain their dream too. Audrey Hepburn once said that you have two hands--one to help yourself, the other to help others. I believe in that wholeheartedly. 

Has becoming a mom changed the way you work?

She’s influenced me to have so much more creativity. I’m stronger because of her. I see how she’s determined to get what ever she wants, to have fun, play with her friends. I see her passion; no filter, no fear, she just does what she wants to do, and that inspires me. 

I read about you referring to your parents as "tiger parents." How would you describe your parenting style?

I struggle with that because I understand my parents spent their entire lives dedicated to us. My mom would drive us to lessons and made sure we practiced. Sienna is six years old now so I aim for the middle of that. She’s taking cello lessons but I want to make it as fun as possible. If I were my mom, I would make her practice two hours a day and she’d be much further along. I’m careful about overburdening her but I want her to learn the skills I learned. 

Do you have any advice for parents thinking about taking the plunge into the entrepreneurial world?

There would be something missing if I hadn’t done this with Sienna. We did this together. There’s her creative energy that I infuse and integrate into my daily work life. When she gets older I want her to help with the business so she learns that you do need to work for a living. Don’t look at being a parent and starting a business as mutually exclusive but as a collaborative experience that you can unfold each part of your life into the other and it doesn’t have to be perfect or stress-free. That is life. Look at the gorgeousness in this chaos, what can we learn from this, how can I use this as a lesson for my child, how can I use this to be more present. It's not either/or... it's AND. I do this AND I'm a mom AND a wife, too, AND I love the gorgeous chaos! 

Is there someone you admired or mentored you when you started?

What I didn’t realize when I launched, Om Aroma, my skincare line, was how lonely it actually is. I thought being a pianist was lonely; I was in the midst of launching a business and it was even lonelier. I started gathering a women support group in my living room and we helped each other. That became Savor the Success which is now an international organization. I am surrounded by women who inspire me. We are all generous with each other, we help each other, my lessons learned are their lessons learned and our time saved. My group has become so instrumental helping me and hopefully I help them. I also created the Manifest Method School which is a school to teach women how to create a vision, a strategy, and an action plan. 

Do you have any tips, resources, or tools for managing work/life balance?

Yes, that is why I created the Daily Action Planner which I will bring with me to the Speak to Me event on January 26th. I created it because I’m often asked how I get so much done in life. I created it for people to take care of things they need to do on a daily basis so when they turn around in a year they see massive action taking place and they don’t even know they did it because they’re having fun. 

If you had the opportunity to interview yourself and ask one question that would give insight about where you are today, what kind of question would you ask yourself?

What does your team think you do to create success? I think it would be interesting from their perspective what they think because they have the inside access info! :) 

Fill in the Blanks:

If I had an extra 2 hours in the day, I…. 

…...would love to cook an amazing meal every night. I’d go to cooking school and learn to cook properly. Go to the farmer's market, cook a great meal, and entertain.

If I could have a super power, I’d ….

…...want to clone myself so I could be involved in every part of my business and put my secret sauce into it. I could meet my leaders at the same time because I notice that when I’m super present with a division of my company it starts to take off. So I wish I had the power to clone myself. 

A famous person I would love to meet is….  

…...Audrey Hepburn because of her kindness, humanitarian spirit, she viewed life so beautifully. Her whole demeanor is gracious. And Harriett Tubman for her ultimate bravery and fearlessness.

What are the charities that speak to your heart? 

I really am focused and passionate on supporting education; especially for girls. My favorite nonprofits are:

Pencils of Promise, who believes every child should have access to quality education. They create schools, programs and global communities around the common goal of education for all. 

She’s the First, provides scholarships to girls in low-income countries, fostering first-generation graduates and cultivating the next generation of positive influencers and leaders within their communities.

Education Through Music, partners with inner-city schools to provide music as a core subject for all children, and utilizes music education as a catalyst to improve academic achievement, motivation for school, and self-confidence. 

Have you ever looked back on your journey with regrets, or wished to change something?

Sometimes I make a lot of mistakes because I lack experience. But I’m glad I experience the mistakes so I can do it better the next time. I'm extremely self aware like that... not afraid to see the mistakes and to learn from them. 

I don’t regret anything because I have a really strong sense that nothing happens by accident and that you can learn from it. There were milestones of things I did that were really smart business decisions; such as opening my pop-up shop for the first time and doing things that scared me. 

Then opening up my first retail store was a big leap of faith mixed with passion, intuition, and creative ways to get it to the next level. There is always that moment of, "OMG, this is scary, I have to stretch myself." Every time I made that leap it’s always paid off in huge dividends. 

What's next to tackle?

There’s a big project in the works, and I’m currently feeling that "OMG, how am I going to do this, this is crazy," that I just mentioned. It’s the same fears as before but with different spices added to it because I'm more experienced now. All I can say is that I’m scared to death, I have no idea how I'm going to do it... and I’m still going to do it. 

Don’t miss you chance to hear Angela Jia Kim at Speak to Me event on January 26th at the Mill Valley Community Center in this rare Bay Area appearance. To learn more about Angelia Jia Kim visit her on her websiteInstagramTwitter, and Facebook.