Rescue Beauty Lounge Nail Guru Ji Baek Is Enjoying the Good Life in Paris … Because She Can


There was a time when Ji Baek’s salon, Rescue Beauty Lounge, was the place you went to get your nails done in New York City. The commitment to hygiene was unparalleled, prices weren’t outrageous, and Baek, the petite, stylish woman behind the business, knew how to take care of her customers (W Magazine once described the clientele as a “continuous conga line of high-powered editors, well-heeled bankers, and Park Avenue wives”).

When she opened in 1998, Baek says there was nothing like Rescue out there. “Every entrepreneur looks to provide something or make something that doesn’t exist,” she explains. “Back then salons had, you know, the fluorescent lights. They were chop shops, basically. They were dirty. Everything seemed cross-contaminated.”

Baek, who worked in the restaurant business at the time, was on her feet, often in heels, for 15-hour shifts. She just wanted “an amazing pedicure” to help get her through, but the salons she visited fell short. Eventually, she had an epiphany. She would open one herself.

Her family was shocked by her decision to go to nail school. But Baek recognized the potential of the salon industry. She knew there was money to be made. “When I opened, people said, ‘Oh, you’re going to touch people’s feet? That’s so gross.’” Baek remembers. “And I said, ‘I’m going to do it like you’d do it in a doctor’s office.’ So I want to have an autoclave. I want all the girls to wear gloves. I don’t want to have a whirlpool. I want to have a cool setting, cool music. I wanted to defend the technicians because there are owners who won’t give them gloves, and they contract all these skin diseases from other people. I’m all for protecting the client and the technicians.”

Word traveled about Rescue’s methods, and business grew. One store became two. In 2008, they expanded to the Meatpacking District. “We were the first ones to open there, before Theory or any of those other stores came in,” she says.


But physically, it was becoming very demanding. So Baek and her husband, happily married for 18 years, reached a mutual decision. “We said, ‘You know what? We work so much. We really need the weekends off. We don’t need so much money,’” she says. “We had an offer to open another place that would have been this money-making machine.” They turned it down and soon after, closed their doors altogether. Some clients cried when they found out.

“I still get emails saying ‘I hate you. I’m sitting here, getting a manicure and my cuticle’s bleeding.’ And I’m like, ‘Thank you. Thank you for hating me,’” she says.

But Baek, who turned 44 in April, insists she’s happy with the decision. She’s since turned her attention fully to her product line, Rescue Beauty Lounge. Her nail polishes are long- wearing, free of toluene, formaldehyde, DBP and animal testing. It took her two years of hard work to get it exactly right, but she’s done it.

Today, Baek lives in Paris for half the year because — well, because she can.

There’s nothing tying her down anymore. “I can work anywhere in the world now,” she says. “It’s very freeing. In Paris, I see these bundled-up American tourists — they’re in their 70s, freezing in the rain — and I tell my husband, ‘How lucky that we’re doing this now!’ Why do this when you’re 70, when you can do it now?”

Baek’s own parents emigrated from South Korea when she was 12 years old. “In Korean families, the girls have to do music,” she says. So she learned to play the piano and viola. Music was her life until, junior year of college, Baek developed tendonitis. Her dream of being a musician quickly ended. “It was devastating in the sense that I had my whole career path laid out for me,” she remembers. “I was supposed to audition for the Philharmonic, and then all of a sudden, I couldn’t play.”

But looking back, she calls the change in trajectory a blessing in disguise. “After it happened, I saw my life open up in a way I couldn’t have imagined,” she says, insisting that everything happens for a reason. “And I’m so lucky. Every day, I just feel so blessed.”

Want the inside scoop on Ji’s picks from Rescue Beauty Lounge’s summer collection? Click here.



This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here



Ji Baek’s Nail Picks From Rescue Beauty Lounge’s Summer Collection


The summer collection from Rescue Beauty Lounge gets its inspiration from the world of Korean dramas, says Baek, who admits to being a diehard fan of the genre. She started watching the television series Boys Over Flowers a few years ago, as a way to improve her Korean. The plot (“Basically, Gossip Girl for Koreans,” she explains. “I recommend it for first-timers”) pulled her in immediately. Soon enough, she was introducing clients to her new passion. “I got so many beauty editors in New York into it. And they don’t even speak Korean,” she says.

“The spring/summer runways featured the ubiquitous floral print, wearable art from Prada, and even Celine’s minimalist queen Phoebe Philo opting for heavy prints,” says Baek. “So taking a cue from Alexander Wang’s play on dark grays with pastels, nails are all about weighing down and counterbalancing. Go dark with Rescue Beauty Lounge Nail Polish in Stormy, A Lonely House or Small, Dim, Summer Stars.”


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Small, Dim, Summer Stars.


“If you’re allergic to the print trend and you want to add little attitude to your usual urban palette of neutrals, black and white, pair it with a surprisingly neutral mustard yellow like Rescue Beauty Lounge Nail Polish in Footpath or the gray-green Mosses Mars,” says Baek.


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Mosses Mars.

 This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here

TOKiMONSTA On Being A Female DJ In A Male-Dominated Industry

Just as she steps onto the red carpet to pose for a row of photographers, what had been a light sprinkle suddenly turns into a downpour. A member of the press rushes to grab an umbrella, but TOKiMONSTA, one of the four stars being celebrated that night for the premiere of the Mnet America reality show Alpha Girls, laughs and says, “Good thing I have this hat on.” A black fur-trimmed hat sits atop her shock of blond hair — she’s been known to experiment with color over the years, mixing blues and purples at one point — and though a pair of oversized black shades cover 50 percent of her face, TOKiMONSTA stands out. It’s a part of a life she’s become used to, especially now that she’s one of the few well-known Asian American female DJs in the music industry.

Jennifer Lee, better known by her aforementioned stage name, has risen to the forefront of the electronic dance music scene with two albums, a number of EPs and high-profile appearances at festivals like Coachella and SXSW. The Torrance, Calif., native, who is of Korean descent, was ranked by LA Weekly as L.A.’s top female DJ in 2010 and was a part of the Full Flex Express Tour in 2012 that had her performing alongside electronic music gods Skrillex and Diplo. Not too shabby for a girl who began producing music in her college dorm while studying business at the University of California, Irvine.

In a crowded L.A. beat scene, Lee’s music stands out, like the recently remastered “The World Is Ours,” with its softer, chiller beats (it’s the stuff midnight dreams are made of). But what also makes Lee unique is her success in an industry that has always been dominated by males, and non-Asian males at that. It’s what made her the perfect candidate for the Asian pop culture channel Mnet America’s new web reality series, Alpha Girls.

Alpha Girls, which premiered in February, follows Lee, Korean artist and illustrator Mina Kwon, Korean American supermodel Soo Joo Park and Filipina American fashion designer Lanie Alabanza-Barcena in a series documenting their journeys in the worlds of art, music and fashion. “I joined [the show] because I loved the idea behind it,” says Lee of her Alpha Girl status. “Alpha Girls shows the rest of America that, hey, Asians can choose careers outside of the medical field, and they can still be successful.”

TOKiMONSTA (Jennifer Lee)

Lee’s segment on Alpha Girls follows her as she takes South Korea by storm, performing in her motherland for the first time. She jets around the country in stylish streetwear and looks completely at ease performing in the middle of jam-packed, ear-numbing clubs. “It was scary because I didn’t know whether Korean audiences would be used to my music,” she says, “but I ended up having a blast. I hope girls can watch this show and see us all doing our thing and know that they can succeed at whatever they want to. I didn’t discover the underground scene until college, and now here I am in Korea playing my own music!”

Catch full webisodes of Alpha Girls on Mnet America’s YouTube channel or at 


–Story by Taylor Weik

This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here


Asia Street Style: Overalls Are Back! Why They’re a Fashion Favorite and How You Can Rock Them


What started out as practical workwear for agricultural and industrial careers has been revived this summer, but as a new fashion statement. Yes, I’m talking about overalls. I know some people cringe at the thought of buying a pair, but it deserves some attention.

Celebrities have been spotted all over Los Angeles and New York stepping out in their favorite denim one-pieces, and designers have taken a stab at reinventing them for the runway. Simple tanks seem to be the favored companions in the United States, so we took to the streets of Seoul to find out how trendsetters are working this interesting comeback in Korea. While the overalls remain a common factor, individual personalities and styles shine through. Who knew something quite simple could be worn in so many ways?

Check out some favorites below to find inspiration for working a pair into your own wardrobe.

Go for urban cool with a skinny leg or vintage chic with wide legged denim:


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Mix denim cut-offs and floral prints for summer:


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Pair head accessories like hats and scarves with overalls (and don’t forget to roll them up for the ultimate in casual chic):


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For a bit of edge, rock a colorful pair with a black fedora and a blingy fanny pack casually slung like a crossbody.


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Excited to try out this current street trend? We found some options from light to dark, patterned to classic, and priced right for some summer retail therapy.


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An extremely light wash plays down the boldness of the cobra print on this shorts option. RES Denim’s Corn Kids Overalls features adjustable straps, button closures and patch pockets. Available at: for $106.



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Paige Denim’s Sierra Overall in Vintage Black offers a sleek and slimming tailored cut that provides comfort, while keeping to their expected feminine silhouettes that the brand is famous for. Available at: for $279.



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Want a true throwback? Check out Current/Elliott’s The Ranch Hand Overall in Bedford. With a dark wash and ability to roll the hems, this classic version is perfect for mixing with printed tops and summer’s ubiquitous Birkenstocks. Available at: for $348.


Story by Min A. Lee.



Asia Street Style: Stylish Parents With EVEN MORE Stylish Children


We’ve seen street style in Asia of couples or best friends sporting complementary looks in an effort to show their solidarity with each other, but while browsing through current street portrait photographs from Seoul, I was instantly drawn to these fashionable parents and their children. There isn’t a single trend shared between them; rather, the looks are a reflection of very different style personalities that are unbelievably cool and still completely embraceable by their mini-me’s. Raising children can be demanding and hectic, so when I find parents who manage to keep great style in their lives, it becomes an instant inspiration!


1. Mother and son keeping an edge with moto-styling!

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Matching leather biker jackets and aviator sunglasses already have a fab factor, but tossing up the trademark peace sign makes me smile at the cuteness overload from a future fashion-savvy mind.


2. Mother and sons show us how urban wear is done!


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I love seeing a little bit of the Los Angeles urban vibe in Asia. Bold prints and a youthful appearance make this fashion-forward trio the epitome of Tom Hirota’s ideal of “casual-rich,” often used to describe the unique Joyrich brand that was founded in California.


3. Father and son looking quite dapper!


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Men in Korea take fashion seriously with their neat styling and clean looks. Flawlessly paired accessories for both father and son make them an extremely eye-catching duo. Mixing blues and yellows are picture-perfect for long summer days.


Story by Min A. Lee.


Have a cute parent-child street style photo? Share with us and you may see it here on!  Want to see more stylish children? Check out Adorable Asian Babies Who Dress Better Than You

Who Called Model Chrissy Teigen Fat, Jeans Designed By Lions, And Other Must Reads of the Week

Our must-reads of the week.

1) Thai American model Chrissy Teigen says Forever 21 once fired her for being “too fat.” (READ HERE



2) Chinese shoppers spend their naptime in IKEA, create hilarious pictures. (READ HERE)  



3) Traditional Korean-style study rooms reinvented in America. (READ HERE



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4) Oh look, a hideously racist necklace. (READ HERE



5) Activist Malala Yousafzai’s 10 greatest contributions to to humanity. (READ HERE




6) Will the British historical drama Downtown Abbey add an Indian character? (READ HERE




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7) MIXED BLOOD: Take a closer look at the “typical American family” with this photo series. (READ HERE



8) Meet Yang Lan, the “Oprah of China.” (READ HERE)



9) This is what happens when a Japanese zoo recruits its animals to create a collection of jeans. (READ HERE



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10) #NailedIt : Documentary following the history of Vietnamese-owned nail salons. (READ HERE

Get To Know Model Irene Kim, Rising Fashion Icon


Korean American model, Irene Kim, has graced the pages of Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and Glamour; walked for several designers including Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. and Rachel Comey; and she’s landed some solid advertising campaigns.  With a growing modeling career, she’s definitely on her way to becoming a serious style icon. Hailing from New York and a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology for Textile Design, her career began in the concrete jungle working as a style consultant. She then did creative direction for a multimedia platform fashion website before joining VNY Model Management in New York City. Kim is currently represented in Seoul by ESteem Model Management under the women’s division.


A quick view into her Instagram world (@ireneisgood) gives us an idea of her playfulness, from the rocking rainbow hair she currently sports to her artistic street shots. What makes us love her? Her style posts are carefree, fun and urban, while her personal blog proves she’s always had an eye for presenting fashion trends in more thought-provoking aesthetics. Below are a few of our favorite shots.


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We love the how she pairs her Rag and Bone Talia V-neck with distressed denim. She also sports a pair of heavy duty hiking boots for some “tough girl” attitude, while standing tall among the crowd in London.


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When it comes to finding a bridge between femininity and street, Kim has it down to a science. There’s no error in her mastered stylings of sportswear and lace. Mixing feminine with edge will always be a great statement maker, and she makes it look so simple and chic.


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Finally, a lush, green soccer field seems like the perfect setting for Kim’s image. Her style sense will always carry notes of sportswear and city life. The ability to combine all these different elements into a solid force is something fashion lovers can respect and appreciate in a world that’s flooded with daily outfit posts and blogs. Kim’s unique taste makes her stand out and will continue to elevate her as an rising style icon.

Story by Min A. Lee

Feature image courtesy of Seoul SS2014 Fashion Week by Park Jimin.


ASIAN STREET STYLE: Seoul’s Oversized Clutch Trend

With the ever-changing size of our phones and tablets after every new product launch, the usually chic and easy to carry cross body bags aren’t always up for the challenge of holding everything we need for our daily commutes.  Browsing through Seoul’s current streetwear trends, we find that oversized clutches are becoming a staple in a fast paced society.

When we think of “oversized,” we tend to assume bulky, but these street style fashionistas show us how they mold their accessories into a streamlined and sleek look which allows for timeless appeal while fitting the current trends for both women and men. Yes, you read that correctly– even men can pull off oversized clutches. And who better to follow than men in Seoul? After all, they are the leading trendsetters in men’s fashion worldwide, especially in America.

As you can see, this accessory can be paired with multiple looks and outfits. We love how each fashionista [in the picture above] kept to a neutral palette in their choice of color.  Neutrals are always safe for any outfit or event—work or play.

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Falling in love with this trend?  Take a peek below at some of our favorite finds that we can’t wait to add to our handbag and accessories collection.  We found three gorgeous clutches from budget-friendly to investment worthy for any type of shopping pursuit!



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Natural-toned geometrics and texture give this BCBGMAXAZRIA envelope clutch a stylish edge to help play up more minimalist outfits.  With a budget-friendly price tag, this piece should definitely be considered for your handbag selection.

Measurements: 8” Height x 11” Width x 1” Depth
Available at: Lord and Taylor Stores and Online for $118.00

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Reece Hudson’s Bowery Oversized Clutch boasts beautiful embossed panels of quilted leather, cotton lining and pockets to hold anything in a fitting combination of luxury and urban.  We highly suggest you browse through Hudson’s clutch designs and see why she earned a spot in the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Fashion Incubator Program.

Measurements: 9” Height x 15” Width x 1” Depth
Available at: Barneys New York Stores and Online for $695

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Talk about gorgeous details! The Row’s oversized clutch is made of smooth, black calfskin with woven paneling in a modern, yet classic feel.  This is definitely an investment-worthy piece that can be loved season to season beyond vintage status.


 Measurements: 10.5” Height x 15” Width
Available at: for $2900.00

-Story by Min A. Lee

Feature Photo courtesy of


Jamie Chung and Daniel Henney Cast in Disney’s “Big Hero 6″

No strangers to kicking butt, Jamie Chung and Daniel Henney have joined cast of Disney and Marvel’s upcoming animated action-comedy, Big Hero 6, which hits theaters Nov. 7. Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams unveiled the young superhero team yesterday.

Big Hero 6 is set in the fictional San Fransokyo, a metropolis where underground robot fights are all the rage. Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter), a 14-year-old robotics prodigy, and his robot Baymax (Scott Adsitt) must join forces with a group of inexperienced crime-fighting “techie heroes” when they uncover a dangerous plot.

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Chung voices GoGo Tomago, who is described as a “laconic Clint Eastwood type” who can take care of herself. An industrial engineering student, Go Go developed a bike with magnetic-levitation technology, which also made its way into her super-suit.

Henney voices Tadashi Hamada, the older brother of Hiro, who is heavily involved in the underground bot fights. Tadashi, fortunately, helps inspire Hiro to put his smarts to good use and gain admission to the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, where he meets a robot named Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsitt). Together, they join forces with the four others to complete the crucial mission.

The team includes Fred (T.J. Miller), a big sci-fi and comic book geek whose “Fredzilla” creature suit is a homage to Godzilla. Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) is a chemistry student who is a bit geeky, but her sweet personality, positive attitude, and smarts make her a valuable member of the team. Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.) sports plasma-induced lasers that come out of his arms, but he’s very cautious about how to go about being a superhero-until he learns to embrace the crazy that comes with the job.

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-Story by James S. Kim
This story was originally published on 

Images via 
USA Today


Must Watch: Parents of Asian American LGBT Children Speak Up

Coming out is never an easy leap. Coming out to Asian immigrant parents is weighted with an even deeper set of complexities.

“In Asian families, the parents may accept their children personally, but they will not do so as part of the larger community,” social worker Aries Liao tells Wall Street Journal columnist Jeff Yang. “They will say ‘I care about you no matter what, but don’t tell your aunt or uncle!’”

That’s where The Asian Pride Project steps in. Founded by Liao in 2008, the nonprofit is a “multilingual platform featuring the stories of Asian Pacific Islander lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks and their family members.” Families go through a coming-out process, too, they say. The main goal of the project is to help Asian Americans feel not only comfortable, but proud, as the parents and family members of out queer children.

One way they’re doing this is by airing multilingual PSAs that show Asian American parents talking proudly about their LGBTQ children. In the series of ads, which is airing on local networks in Los Angeles this week, parents passionately carry out the same message in their respective languages, “Too often our children are shunned, ostracized and discriminated against in our community,” they say. “I am proud of my son. I have always been proud of my son.”

Though the community continues to struggle with acceptance of LGBTQ-identified people, there are glimmers of hope and change—including this PSA.

The Asian Pride Project also unveiled a moving exhibition titled, “Our Portraits, Our Families,” on display at the Museum of Chinese in America in Chinatown through July 13. Photographs celebrate the “journey, triumphs and struggles” of LGBTQ individuals and families.

Check out the ads in different languages below:

PSA Mandarin from Asian Pride Project on Vimeo.


PSA Japanese from Asian Pride Project on Vimeo.

PSA Korean from Asian Pride Project on Vimeo.

PSA Hindi from Asian Pride Project on Vimeo.

PSA Laotian from Asian Pride Project on Vimeo.

1) PSA Tagalog from Asian Pride Project on Vimeo.

-Rachel Chen and Ruth Kim.