Instagram is stuffed with so much content, it's easy to tire of the thumb-tapping and feed scrolling. In a sea of overly-produced images and videos, Erica Choi, the fashion and lifestyle influencer behind Egg Canvas, keeps things simple. Choi, who was born in South Korea, raised in New Jersey, and now lives in New York, is infusing that simplicity into her next venture. Formerly vice president of digital design at Barneys, the design director and photographer is on a mission to make women's faces as soft as boiled eggs via her plant-based skincare line Superegg, which will launch in spring 2020. We caught up with Choi to find out what we can expect from Superegg products, her skincare routine from start to finish, the best places to eat in New York, and more.
You went from digital designer to influencer to also the co-founder of a skincare company. Tell us a little about your journey before and after Barneys and why you decided to pursue content creation?
My education and career had always been in graphic design, however I realized it wasn’t the be all end all of all my creative passions. Throughout and after college, I worked at a few digital agencies specializing in the beauty, fashion, and hospitality industries. This way I was able to build up my portfolio and clientele.
However, eventually I knew I wanted to focus my efforts on one brand I felt passionately about, and when I was connected to the team at Barneys, I knew it was the perfect fit. It embodied everything I loved in a brand – creativity, integrity, heritage, and it had that special “coolness” factor. I was brought on as a Junior Art Director to lead the website redesign, and by the end of my time there, I oversaw the digital design department as Vice President. I had an amazing team and a wonderful boss who I learned an incredible amount from. But more than anything, he was super supportive of all my endeavors as well as my growth as a leader.
During my time there, I truly had my dream job, but I also needed another creative outlet. I loved fashion and I loved web design, but I also loved all of the arts, photography, traveling, and culture. I’m the true definition of an introvert, but there was this other side of me that loved documenting and sharing my interests with others. I grew up blogging in different formats growing up, like on Xanga and Yahoo Geocities, as well as contributing to online community-like forums, so I was already accustomed to this world. When Instagram came along, it was that perfect visual platform where I could share, explore, and meet so many other like-minded individuals.
What’s one thing a lot of people would be surprised to learn about your job?
So much of it is networking and building on your relationships. Connecting with people and socializing is such a learned and essential skill. Sometimes I really need to put in the effort to do so however, because I’m such an introvert.
I also work around the clock! I am literally on 24/7. But I love what I do and I really don’t mind. Since I can remember, I was taught work ethic and the fact that I need to work hard to get to where I want to be. I learned that with the exception of a few fine individuals, nothing simply gets handed to you and I need to work hard to achieve my goals. With this of course comes mental challenges and so my toughest life lesson will always be achieving balance in life.
You launched Egg Canvas in 2014. How do you think fashion/lifestyle blogging has changed since then?
An incredible amount has changed over the past few years. It’s definitely evolved. There is definitely more supply and demand, but it’s not so one-sided or “flat” anymore. The definition of a blogger/influencer has expanded and I’m so glad it has! It is much more understood and respected. Influencers need to encompass so many skills to survive. We are creative entrepreneurs and need to massage all of our unique qualities and skillsets to grow.
For me, working in different work environments in a a more corporate and professional setting (sometimes on very small teams), has taught me to wear many hats. So as a blogger, it came naturally to me to be able to multitask and ideate and execute all parts of the job. The expectations to carry out so much as a blogger, or one-man show, has also rounded me out at work, where I was able to excel in delivering much more than what was expected of me.
Because we’re all trying to recreate your amazing fashion aesthetic, we need to know: what winter or spring fashion trends are you excited about?
Monochrome looks! I also love the idea of going back to simplicity and appreciating the small details. Sustainability and mindfulness when acquiring new things. Comfort is very important to me, in its both literal meaning and expressive. I want to be able to run around the city if I have to, but also I feel like my best self when I feel comfortable in what I’m wearing and is the truest expression of yourself. I also love adding to an otherwise simple look with a specially accessory – a bag, shoes, jewelry, sunglasses or hat.
Your plant-based skincare line Superegg is launching in spring 2020. Where’d you get the idea and what can people expect from the products?
It actually stemmed from the theme of balance! The egg is symbolic of the beginning of life and is the perfect balanced shape. The egg was also my nickname growing up (it’s a compliment in Korea for someone to have an “egg-shaped” oval face). It is important culturally as well, as historically people in Asia have been using eggs as face masks for ages. I’ve also dealt with many struggles with mental health growing up. All the pieces just seemed to fit together on so many levels. Superegg products themselves will be clean, vegan, and cruelty-free, using only the best key ingredients supplemented with innovative technology. It will effectively balance nature and science to yield great results for your skin.
Speaking of Superegg, the creative for your digital/social teasers are super oddly satisfying and cool all around. What’s the inspiration or ethos behind the brand vibe?
As with our design ethos, we wanted Superegg to be simple yet effective; being clear and concise yet not too easy. That creative spin was important to us. We appreciate a good metaphor.
What has been the most challenging thing about creating a beauty brand in a time where there’s a new one popping up every other day?
We had a clear vision of what we wanted the products to be, what the brand integrity should encompass, and the community we wanted to build. Superegg as a brand will stay strong to its brand values. It is so easy to compare and assimilate, but I believe if we have a strong vision, that’s enough to stay true to what we stand for.
You always have the best food recommendations. What are some of your favorite restaurants in the US or abroad that you’ve tried recently?
We celebrated my husband’s birthday at our friends Ellia and JP’s restaurant Atomix last year and it was incredible. Llama San is also a fun spot for Peruvian Japanese food. Takroom at Hudson yards and Flora Bar at the Met Breuer never disappoints. Nonono has really great yakitori. Wayla is really good for Thai food, and has a super cute garden in the back for when the weather is nice. I’m also an ice cream fanatic and Caffè Panna, run by Hallie Meyer (Danny Meyer’s daughter), has one of the best ice cream flavors you will ever taste (‘Red Flag’ is strawberry swirl with graham brittle that is amaaazing).
For those aspiring to curate an Instagram feed as pretty as yours, what 3 practical photo/editing/design tips would you give them?
Find the light! Editing is such a big part of making the image, but I always feel like it should be a beautiful image pre-editing, if possible! Adding a filter should add to an image and get it to the finish line. Use the rule of thirds when composing an image – I love using the gridlines on the iPhone. I add extra contrast which makes an image bolder, but you also need a good amount of shadows and highlights so you don’t lose your details.
Are there any entrepreneur and/or self help books/podcasts you’ve read that you think every person should read?
I listen to podcasts every second I have! If I’m walking around outside, I have my AirPods in listening to a podcast. Must listen-to’s are: NPR’s How I Built This with Guy Raz, Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations, Pardon My French with Garance Doré, Second Life with Hilary Kerr, and The goop Podcast. Listening to people’s stories and the journeys they took to get to where they are is the most inspiring to me.
Name one app that changed your life or that you can’t live without and why.
I have to say Instagram. It has opened so many doors for me and connects me to another world that fuels me creatively and socially.
Your skin is flawless! Can you share your skincare routine with us?
I have a pretty involved skincare routine, but it doesn’t take too long to do! I call it my me-time, and I know my face deserves it:
- At night, I always double cleanse, either using a micellar water or cleansing balm to remove my makeup, and then a foaming cleanser to make sure everything is off. RéVive and La Mer leaves my skin feeling super clean and soft. I use an Enzyme Peel from Tatcha or AmorePacific a few times a week.
- After cleansing, I mist with Caudalié’s Beauty Elixir. Then comes toner – I love Sisley’s Grapefruit Toning Lotion, Goop’s G.Tox Tonic, and Then I Met You’s Birch Milk Toner. I use Essence if my skin needs a bit of extra love – Clé de Peau Beaute’s Refining Essence and Tatcha’s The Essence helps balance the skin.
- I apply Vitamin C serum in the morning – Skinceutical’s C E Ferulic and Sunday Riley’s C.E.O. Brightening Serum.
- For nighttime, I want something that works a bit harder so I use Chanel's Le Lift Serum or Sulwhasoo’s First Care Activating Serum. I love applying a sheet mask if I have some more time that evening. It is also a necessity for me to use one before a special event or while traveling.
- Once a week or so I would use a glycolic acid, lactic acid, or retinol instead of serum. Be careful though because too much of it can make your skin flake. Sunday Riley’s Good Genes and Drunk Elephant’s A-Passioni are really good.
- Moisturizer is my last step and I’ve been using our Superegg Facial Moisturizer (ahhh!) and it makes my skin literally feel like a soft-boiled egg. Other amazing creams are Augustinus Bader’s The Cream and Sisley’s Black Rose Skin Infusion Cream.
- Since I already have so many layers of skincare on my face and don’t want everything to pill, I like my SPF to be on lighter side in terms of consistency, like Lancer’s Sheer Fluid Sun Shield or SUPERGOOP!’s Unseen Sunscreen.
- I’m not really into tools or gadgets (yet), but I do have a few rose quartz massage tools from Solaris Labs and rollers from MDNA. I love massaging my face when I’m feeling a bit bloated to give that lymphatic drainage.
Mantra you live by?
Be kind and remember where you came from, your journey. Everything happens for a reason and we are all tied together in some way or another.
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