Are you looking for the next place to shop all things K-beauty in New York City? You’re in luck: Pibu has just opened. Ranging from cult favorites like Beauty of Joseon to exclusive products from Dr. deep, Pibu has it all. The store is located a few blocks east of Grand Central Station in midtown Manhattan. EnVi sat down with Grace Cho, the owner of Pibu, to talk about its beginnings and her passion for the K-beauty business.

Lifelong Love of Skincare

From competitively figure skating to studying psychology at Columbia University, Cho has now opened a new door for herself with Pibu. The practice of self-care through skincare has been a staple in Cho’s life, nurtured into her through her mother. “She had us focusing on skincare really early on,” Cho said. “So all of this is really familiar to us.”

Her passion has extended into an interest at looking into certain ingredients in skincare products and how they are made. “I’ll try to see which ones will interact with each other,” Cho explained. “So I do a lot of digging into products and how they’re manufactured to try to come up with some sort of step system.” This step system typically involves pairing products that go well together. Cho brings her care and attentiveness into her business by giving her customers personalized recommendations based on what they need. “You don’t know until you actually try the product,” Cho said. “I genuinely try my best to do what’s best for people. I won’t recommend things that I don’t think they need.” Cho recounts customers returning to tell Cho about the positive changes in their skin from products she had recommended to them. 

A Project of Love

What was once a cold, industrial space has now been turned into a pleasantly warm shop through a collaboration of love. With Cho’s mother bringing in artistic visuals to design the space, her sister being an architect who executed the designs, and a combination of mutual love for skincare among the three, Pibu was born.
Cho talked about how exciting it was for her mother to be able to use her talent to design the space. Cho’s mom, a Parsons School of Design alumna, soon became a busy stay-at-home mother, unable to pursue a career in art. “This, for her, has been a very exciting way to use her talents and her visions,” Cho said. The space was designed with Korean and Japanese architectural inspiration, intentionally made to feel like a tranquil rest stop away from the city.

Photos courtesy of Cris Aguasvivas.

“To come and work on it together as three women has been really fun because it’s like ‘a girly thing,’ but also working with my family is special because we all genuinely care about our customers, about the products, and about creating a nice space that feels happy to be in,” Cho happily expressed to EnVi

Business is Blooming

Pibu has been a swift project for the Cho family, with plans going into motion during the summer of 2023 before fully opening their storefront in December of 2023. Ever since, business has been doing quite well. “It’s been doing better than we expected. We’re very happy,” Cho grinned. “Of course there are slow days and other days we could be doing better, but overall we’re not trying to do too much too fast.”

Pibu’s business model emphasizes building community and connection with their customers. “Some favorite parts about opening the shop have been the interactions,” said Cho. “I’m very lucky I’ve had such amazing interactions. People who come in are so wonderful and so kind.” Another plus side, Cho emphasized, is when a customer comes into the shop with their dog. 

Cho also revealed to EnVi that Pibu will be expanding their space within the year. With the front part of the store open for shoppers, there are plans to expand their back room to have more products for sale. Cho hopes for current and future customers to look forward to the store’s future.  

Pibu’s Picks

To wrap up the conversation, Cho shared with EnVi some of Pibu’s bestsellers and her personal recommendations. She proudly points out that sunscreens are the store’s best sellers — Beauty of Joseon’s sunscreen takes the lead as the most sold out item. 

Photos courtesy of Cris Aguasvivas.

Cho recommends using the Mixsoon Bean Essence, which she uses day and night. Some other products she recommends are the Roundlab DokDo Cleanser, for a gentle hydrating face wash, and “Dr. deep Enrich Nourishing Cream,” a Pibu exclusive that is a hydrating moisturizer. 

Stop by Pibu on Second Ave in Manhattan on your next visit to New York City!

Looking to explore more beauty products? Check out EnVi’s Editorial picks here!