LONDON — After taking a long break, staying at a secluded resort in Sir Lanka, attending breakfast with the governor of Tokyo and sailing on the Atlantic Ocean, Claire Chung is ready to make a comeback to the business arena.
The former general manager of Yoox Net-a-porter China, who has spent more than two decades working in the luxury sector and launched the Net-a-porter China operation in 2015, will take on the role of chief executive officer at beauty start-up Ignae, effective beginning Sept. 28, WWD Beauty Inc has learned.
Founded by Miguel Borges Pombo in 2016, Ignae is a Portuguese beauty brand that aims to harness the unique ecology of the Azores archipelago, from the depths of the surrounding sea to volcanic fumaroles with bio-science technology to develop antiaging products. Celebrity skin therapist Joanne Czech and shoe designer Christian Louboutin are among the most notable clients who have been using its products from its founding days, according to the brand.
Now, Chung has been tasked with leading the brand in a digital-centric and direct-to-consumer approach to expand its global footprint with a focus on China.
“I’m thrilled to be joining Ignae to take the company to next stage growth,” Chung said in an exclusive interview. “I first came across the brand as a customer. After using it for about a month, all my wrinkles from years of living a very intense life in China vanished. I was so impressed by the results that I flew to the Azores to meet its founder.
“The bioscience and powerful regenerative ingredients found on the Azores, especially its thermal waters, is unique. It’s an authentic and exciting brand that stands out in a crowded market,” she added.
As ceo, Chung plans to expand the company’s global footprint with new retail and hotel spa partnerships — which are now only available at Terra Nostra Garden Hotel in the Azores and the Four Seasons in Lisbon and Bahrain — as well as launch an online platform next year with content and expert advice.
“Digital is not only about e-commerce, but also leveraging the latest innovation in technology to think about how we can bring more value to our customers and be connected, which is so critical in skin care,” she said.
She also wants Ignae products to reach a wider demographic across gender, race and age by expanding the offering of its “transformational high-performance skin-care” and “home spa” lines.
“For skin care, there is a global shift to a younger customer base and a rising global demand for natural products. Ignae sits perfectly at the crossroads between bio-science and nature with an added holistic approach to skin wellness,” she added.
Pombo said he is delighted to welcome Chung to the team. “She is a citizen of the world, having worked in New York, Hong Kong, London, Milan, Shanghai and now to Lisbon, where she will be based. Her global network and command of digital will certainly accelerate our growth. Beauty is the fastest-growing category in retail and China will soon be the world’s number one beauty market. Claire’s most recent experience in that coveted market will be invaluable,” he added.
Born in Taiwan and educated in America, Chung speaks five languages and has been a pioneer in the development of e-commerce luxury in China for the past decade. Prior to YNAP, she served as vice president of international business development at Shangpin.com, securing deals and took more than 200 brands from Valentino to Topshop into China for the platform.
She now also sits on the board at Danish speaker maker Bang & Olufsen and French luggage brand Delsey.
Sign up for WWD’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.