Starting your own business in a new country is never easy. Foreigners often have to put in much more effort than locals to adapt and build their own success stories. Nonetheless, there are numerous examples of people who, daring to make significant changes in their lives, moved to the United States and achieved incredible success here. Today, our interviewee is a successful businessman from Ukraine, Roman Ustymenko, who has gone through a remarkable journey of personal and professional growth in his homeland and came to New York to conquer new horizons. He is confident that his business activities will bring substantial benefits to both the American economy and American consumers.
Roman, you came to the United States a year ago through the U4U program. Can you tell us about your business and the results you’ve achieved during this time?
When I was making the decision to move to America, I already knew what kind of business I would be involved in. Upon arriving in the country and completing all the paperwork related to my legalization and business registration, I immediately started developing a website for my online store, alfabeauty.com, which specializes in wholesale sales of brand-name Korean cosmetics to business clients in the USA. Therefore, my first step was to negotiate exclusive contracts with South Korean manufacturers for the supply of branded products and search for potential wholesale buyers. To date, I have successfully become the exclusive distributor in the USA for four well-known Korean cosmetic brands and have begun the process of building sales relationships.
Why did you choose to develop your business in this niche, and why did you prefer South Korean cosmetic brands for trading?
Online commerce is not a new field for me. My online store, crispy.ua, selling Korean cosmetics in Ukraine, has been operating for almost 8 years. Now, as I expand a similar business in the United States, I manage the company remotely. When in 2014 I had to leave my home, business, and savings due to the military conflict in eastern Ukraine and relocate my family from Luhansk to a safe place, I had to start from scratch. I initially engaged in small-scale commerce but soon realized the need to create something more global, and that’s how the online store came about.
I chose Korean cosmetics for several reasons. Firstly, at that time, it was considered exotic and was just beginning to gain a foothold in the Ukrainian market. Secondly, after thoroughly researching cosmetic products, I found several important advantages: the composition (skincare products primarily contain environmentally friendly natural components, including unconventional ones), certified production, attractive original packaging, a wide variety of textures, and affordable prices.
Do you believe that Korean cosmetics will interest American consumers?
I’m confident it will. It’s known that most American women prefer a natural look in their everyday lives. At the same time, proper skincare using various beauty products is much more important to them than decorative cosmetics. Just look at Korean women. It’s often difficult to determine their age. They have almost no wrinkles, and their skin looks flawless. I believe that any woman, regardless of her nationality, would like to look like that, and Korean cosmetics can help achieve that.
Is this related to the overall strategy of your company?
Directly, as the strategy of my company is to provide consumers with the best cosmetic products and brands, offer the best wholesale prices for such products on the market, and ultimately provide the best customer service.
You mentioned that you’ve already started building your sales. How many product offerings does your online store have, and how are sales going?
The assortment available today on alfabeauty.com consists of just over two hundred product offerings. However, it will gradually expand. By the end of 2023, I plan to increase the number of SKUs to four hundred, and in the following year, to a thousand. As for the second question, I must admit that it’s too early to talk about profitability at this point. But I am firmly committed to reaching break-even in three months and achieving $3 million in revenue within a year.
Developing your own business in the USA while contributing to the country’s economy is commendable. How do you envision your company’s future?
In the foreseeable future, my company is not just an online platform for selling exclusive branded cosmetics. It’s a unique beauty and wellness mini-empire with a multimillion-strong army of American and European enthusiasts of high-quality and environmentally friendly beauty products, which enable them to take proper care of themselves and achieve ideal results.
What do you plan to offer to the American market and your potential target audience?
In the next two years, we plan to create our own cosmetics brand. The goal is to significantly simplify self-care for American and European women, reducing the time required for beauty routines to a reasonable minimum.
During this same time frame and beyond, we aim to establish collaborations with renowned cosmetologists and perfumers, and possibly with the New York Institute of Beauty.
In a five-year perspective, we intend to open manufacturing facilities in the USA for under-eye patches and skincare products using 2/3 American-sourced ingredients.
I have many more ideas that, when realized, will contribute to creating new job opportunities, boosting the American economy, and improving the quality of life for American citizens.
What’s the secret to Roman Ustymenko’s success?
I borrowed my secret to success from American speaker and business trainer Jim Rohn: “When I know what I want, and I want it badly enough, I will always find a way to get it”.