Lisa Estrella “Liv” Yang is a courageous Asian American business owner in the nail industry. She grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and felt different from the other kids. In this society, Yang was different from the other kids. She came to the United States as a second generation refugee, and most of her peers couldn’t relate to her experience of post-war trauma. Additionally, very few spoke her native language of Hmong, creating a cultural barrier.
Yang started doing nails when she was in elementary school as a way to cope with bullying and depression. She was able to express herself through nail art.
“You can show different facets of yourself depending on the occasion and still be true to yourself,” she wrote in an email. “I am grateful for my ability to express myself through nail art because that medium offers so many textures, colors, and embellishments that are interchangeable depending on the mood.”
Her inspiration for creating press-on nails originated from her very first makeup social where she witnessed how nail polish positively affected people in her refugee community, the Hmong people who fled to the U.S. for shelter after the Vietnam War.
Yang attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There, she created a pro-self-esteem movement which attracted young women from all over campus to talk about beauty standards over a nail polish session. In 2014, Yang was selected top four out of over 16,000 competitors for an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City in Sally Hansen’s nationwide “I Heart Nail Art” competition. As a queer Southeast Asian woman, Yang always felt like she didn’t fit in. She lived in a state where the population was 80 percent white and only 2 percent Asian. The definition of “beautiful” in her community was white beauty.
“Growing up I felt excluded from the definition of ‘beautiful’ because rarely did I ever see a darker-skin Asian woman who was short and average size,” Yang wrote. Her experience of not being able to fit into a “one-size-fits-all” mold brought her to Boston, where she started the company Faceted Beauty.
Yang faced many challenges throughout her nail journey and as founder and CEO of Faceted Beauty. “There are so many uncertainties as a startup,” she wrote. “My role as Founder and CEO is mitigating risk every day to ensure the survival of the company. Challenges can range from finding new customers to finding the right talent for the Faceted Beauty team.” However, her challenges taught her how to manage failure and how to get back up.
As an entrepreneur, Yang enjoys going through the process of bringing positivity into people’s lives with nail art. She has always been “proud to be joining a long history of courageous Asian and Asian American business owners in the nail industry.” Now, Yang is getting ready to launch Faceted Beauty in Fall 2019, to promote their mission that “beauty goes beyond a one size fits all."