BELIEVE IN YOUR BEAUTY !
STORY BY ANABEL MARQUEZ & WENDY RIBEIRO
PHOTOS BY RACHEL CARRILLO
There’s this thing about hanging out with Jennifer Yen. You think you’ve known her for a long time. She makes conversations feel easy and she’s fun to talk to, even if only for a few moments out of her busy schedule.
Yen is the founder of Purlisse, a skincare company she founded using her grandmother’s Asian beauty rituals and Yensa, a superfood cosmetic line.
The first time we interviewed Yen was in 2018. She was in a smaller office and had fewer employees. She hadn’t introduced cosmetics into Purlisse’s product rotation and her daughter Gemma was still a toddler.
At that time, she told us all about her journey from the long, make-up heavy days of acting in Hollywood when she appeared on the hit show Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue as Vypra, a villainous vixen.
She told us how she decided to eventually quit acting and give Purlisse her full attention.
Fast forward to 2022 and Yen is still the same girl’s girl. She still has the same combination of approachability and girl boss energy but now her company is bigger. And we’re not just talking the irresistible new cosmetic products, like BB Cream, cheek color and lipstick she added to the Purlisse lineup in 2019. Since we last interviewed her, she launched Yensa which is currently sold on QVC, Nordstrom’s and Sak’s Fifth Avenue.
She moved her corporate offices to a bigger facility and has been featured in national publications, including INC. and Forbes magazines, for her usiness success, her well-formulated products and her unique take on beauty. Plus, Gemma, her daughter is now eight years old and much more involved with Yen’s daily operations.
“She’s obsessed now,” says Yen of Gemma’s interest. “She’s always trying to wear lipstick…she likes doing makeup on my mom. I hope this really opens another dimension to her creativity.”
Believe in Your Beauty
On this occasion, Yen opened up about her motivation behind creating an entirely new makeup brand. As it turns out, Yensa was an idea that was sparked by motherhood.
“After giving birth to my daughter, I was once again faced with troubled skin, like rosacea and adult acne. But this time it was really hormonal, lackluster, and I needed coverage, because I was also 12 years older than when I first started [Purlisse],” she says. “My mother was taking care of me and she was following this tradition where a new mother sits out for a month and integrates super foods into her daily life, such as black tea, black rice, black seaweed and black sesame oil. And this brought radiance and vitality back into my skin.”
That experience inspired Yen. She took the superfood concept and used some of the same ingredients to create full-coverage complexion cosmetics. Each product in her Yensa line is infused with eight superfoods. She works with chemists and skincare experts in Asia, France and the U.S. and the product branding is also very symbolic. Yensa’s logo is a type of interlocking mandala with eight overlapping circles which represents the luckiest number in Chinese culture, symbolizing prosperity, great health, and infinite possibilities, explains Yen.
Thinking back on her motherhood journey, Yen realizes nowadays her daughter Gemma is frequently around to observe meetings, business operations and company activities. We ask her if she hopes to motivate Gemma.
“I saw how hard my mom worked,” says Yen. “I didn’t think that it instilled anything in me because you just don’t think about that, but…as you get older, what your parents taught you, is big part of who you are and who you become.”
Yen’s Purlisse website uses the slogan “Believe in Your Beauty”—a phrase that admittedly took the Alabama-raised entrepreneur some time to understand but has now become a part of her ethos.
“I grew up as the only Asian in Alabama so I definitely didn’t feel beautiful when I was younger, and I was certainly always trying to fit in,” she says. “I was diminishing the rich culture that I came from!”
Yen says earlier on, she had distanced herself from all of the wisdom, heritage and traditions from Chinese culture as a way to become more socially accepted.
“It wasn’t until I started Purlisse, it was like wow! This is a true purpose and I’m going to infuse all of my heritage. The 5,000 years of knowledge passed down from my great-grandmother, grandmother, my aunts, my mom, all the women in my life. And when I say, ‘Believe in your beauty,’ it’s a call to be loud and proud of who you are, no matter where you came from, what your ethnicity is like, what your age range is. Embrace it!”