The 2009 AWIB Entrepreneurial Leadership Award Winner
Wei Yang Brian
Founder and CEO
Wei East is a line of skin care and make-up products that combine the power of ancient Eastern herbal remedies, that have been passed down for generations in China, with modern Western technology, to deliver the best natural ingredients that help maintain skin’s vitality and youthful appearance. The Wei East brand is currently sold on the Home Shopping Network (HSN) and exclusively on www.weieast.com with annual sales of $30 million. The company is headquarters in Newton PA, with a state-of-the-art 120,000 sq ft manufacturing facility in China.
Born and raised in China, Wei came to the U.S. in 1985 to study for her Master’s degree in Computer Science, at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. While at Drexel, she met her husband, Mark Brian. Despite her father’s wishes for her to return to China, Wei and Mark married and settled in PA, where Wei got a job as a Computer Programmer. Wei realized almost immediately that this was not her true calling. Wei was yearning to do something in beauty, a passion and interest of hers since she was a child.
Shortly after Wei’s wedding, her father, passed away. During this difficult moment in her life, Wei could not stop thinking about her father, her greatest influencer, and his wish for her to return to China to serve her homeland.
Inspired by the Avon and Mary Kay direct-to-consumer business model, Wei had an idea to replicate it in China. In 1993, Wei returned to China to form a direct-to-consumer beauty business, recruiting her mother and sisters. Wei learned from herbalists about the natural healing powers of herbs and mixed the best combinations to make lotions and make-up colors. In just four years, she built the Wei East beauty line into a nationwide brand with a sales team of over 40,000 women.
Wei East was a thriving business in China, but unexpectedly, the Chinese government had put an overnight ban on direct-to-consumer businesses, causing her company to dissolve immediately. It was also around the same time, her first child was suffering from an unknown condition, which needed immediate medical attention. Wei and her husband returned to the U.S. to seek medical expertise for her son, who was later diagnosed with Autism.
For the next few years, Wei devoted her life and energy into caring for her son. This experience enabled Wei to see life through a more spiritual lens. In 1999, Wei rebuilt Wei East, this time, with an even greater passion for promoting beauty and balance from inside and out. Wei debuted on HSN in 2002 and her energy and infectious passion for beauty immediately connected with HSN viewers.
Wei’s advice to women entrepreneurs is “Know what makes you special, make that something special helpful to others, and always stand out from the crowd.”
Today, Wei East is one of the top selling beauty brands on HSN. Wei continues to oversee product development to ensure constant innovation and the production of high-quality products, and focuses on empowering her team to lead the company so she can spend more time with her family.
Wei also launched We Help, a community outreach program dedicated to a variety of philanthropic causes. Its first priority was to support families faced with Autism, through contributions to Autism Speaks and the Autism Treatment Center of America. Additionally, the We Help Bring Hope collection, a selection of 8-top selling items, was created with 100% of sales going directly to these life-transforming programs.
Wei lives in Pennsylvania with her husband Brian and two children.