From brushes to makeup and skincare, these inspiring Singaporean entrepreneurs are making waves in the beauty industry with their own products and signature style BY ARISSA HA
EILEEN (LEFT) WEARS ZARA BLAZER; JOSEPH DRESS; AND P BY PANACHE EARRINGS AND BRACELET, FROM SOCIETY A. YUAN WEARS ZARA BLAZER; JOSEPH PANTS; SALVATORE FERRAGAMO BELT, AND P BY PANACHE RING, FROM SOCIETY A.
Eileen Poh and Yuan Ng, Faux Fayc
It’s hard to imagine starting a business with only one product, but that’s exactly what Eileen and Yuan did when they started Faux Fayc (pronounced “fou-face”). Back in 2014, most brush-on lash extensions were white instead of black, and often looked strange on Asian lashes. Recognising this problem, Eileen, 26, managed to secure a supplier to create a black-fibre wig lash extension and mascara, which she then passed to Yuan, 31, to try out. Both of them were so convinced by the product that they decided to launch the brand with just one mascara: The Fauxlash Mascara Duo.
Needless to say, their first batch flew off the shelves in just a month. This set the ball rolling for more products to be added to the range, and eventually the opening of their first brick and mortar store in 2016. But the mascara remains their best-selling product.
It’s ironic that when the brand launched in 2014, business partners Eileen and Yuan weren’t the best of friends. But they bonded over their personality quirks. “I think what worked for us was our opposing working styles,” quips Eileen. “Yuan is great at organising and administration, while I propose ideas and do all the public speaking.” While the jury is still out on starting a business with a friend, Eileen weighs in: “I think it’s better to find someone who complements you and has the same goals in mind. Everything should be clear at the start of the business, especially when it comes to money.”
YUHUI WEARS JOSEPH BLAZER; JUELIER SATURDAY EARRINGS; BALLY BLOUSE AND PANTS.
Tay Yu Hui, 13rushes
It was a video from PETA demonstrating how animal hair is harvested to create makeup brushes that triggered Yu Hui’s drive and ambition to create a cruelty-free makeup brush. But for a 21-year old fresh out of university, the journey was anything but easy.
“I was clueless when I first started,” shares Yu Hui, now 27. “Finding a supplier was really challenging and I didn’t know how to manage product consistency.” Perhaps it was Yu Hui’s sincerity or her innocuous dream of a cruelty-free world, that despite the quality of her first batch of brushes being inconsistent, her customers were kind and patient with her. At one of her first few artisan-market stalls, one customer who had bought her entire stock of brushes, contacted her afterwards to address the defects in her brushes. It turned out to be a very important meeting for Yu Hui as her customer ended up coaching her about quality control.
For a small brand trying to make its mark, Yu Hui is grateful to the people around her for their support – from her mother, who helped out on sourcing trips and behind the booth at fairs, to celebrity makeup artist Larry Yeo whom she credits for her many industry contacts. Yu Hui hopes to play her part for the environment with 13rushes. She aims to make the cruelty-free brand an advocate for sustainability and to reduce its carbon footprint in the near future.
PAULINE WEARS COS TOP; LA PERLA BUSTIER; NATALIA KIANTORO PANTS, FROM SOCIETY A; JUELIER SATURDAY EARRINGS AND BRACELET.
Pauline Ng, Porcelain
Fresh from school, Pauline’s first order of business upon graduation was to help restart her mother’s beauty business which had failed twice – once during the SARS outbreak in Singapore, and again during the Asian financial crisis. Unlike traditional family businesses, Pauline started Porcelain from scratch with her mother Jenny Teng. “When we started, we had to be frugal, and we did everything ourselves, including the laundry, which we did with a second-hand washing machine.”
While this meant that Pauline didn’t have a legacy to live up to, the stress of a motherdaughter working relationship still exists. “It took a while before she could look at me and not treat me like her child,” reveals Pauline, 33. “At the same time I had to understand that she had a lot of experience. Separating our roles helped, and we learnt how to communicate and manage each other better.”
Armed with her knowledge in business management, the initial plan was to get the business back on track before she started looking for a job. A few months turned into nine years, but Pauline has no regrets as she shares her mother’s passion to help customers feel confident in their own skin by targeting the root of their skin problems.
This genuine consideration for their customers shows through in every aspect of their business, from their facial services to developing their own skincare products. And it’s not stopping there. Pauline shares they have plans to open more Porcelain spas abroad, and adds, “We also hope to open a spa academy in Singapore!”
CHERYL WEARS NATALIA KIANTORO TOP, FROM SOCIETY A; LA PERLA PANTS; AND JUELIER SATURDAY EARRINGS. WATCH, HER OWN.
Cheryl Gan, HYSSES
Rebranding is usually a move most business owners avoid, but for Cheryl, co-founder of local aromatherapy brand Mt. Sapola, it was the way forward. Her Thai counterpart, and co-founder of Mt. Sapola wanted to concentrate on expanding the business in Thailand, while Cheryl had her sights set on global markets. After eight years of working together, the business partners parted ways amicably. Now called HYSSES, Cheryl’s brand is untethered to begin its global expansion.
Cheryl’s initial apprehension about the rebranding were quickly put to rest as Singaporeans welcomed the concept of a completely local brand. “I’m also happy for my staff because they now have more opportunities to grow as individuals when the company begins its expansion,” shares Cheryl, 40.
It’s a matter of great pride for Cheryl that HYSSES’ products are truly “Made in Singapore”, using pure, natural ingredients in a research and manufacturing facility based locally. In time, Cheryl hopes to expand her product range to include fragrances, skincare and makeup with a strong focus on the benefits of aromatherapy.
NICOLAS WEARS COS BLAZER.
Nicolas Travis, Allies of Skin
If you have seen Nicolas’ skin now, you would never guess that it was plagued by severe acne during his teenage years. The struggle to find skincare that would work for him still remains clear in his mind, and became one of the driving forces for his brand. But it wasn’t until much later that the desire to run his own skincare business kicked in. Upon graduating, Nicolas took on an advertising job but found it unfulfilling. He decided to turn to the business plan he wrote when he was doing his Masters, and started Allies of Skin.
Armed with a background in biomedical science and advertising, the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2017 honoree created the world’s first day mask, and with investments and blessings from his siblings, he was able to launch his brand in 2016 with three products instead of just one. Two years on, Allies of Skin is a fast favourite with international retailers such as Harrods, Space.NK, NET-A-PORTER, MR PORTER, Saks Fifth Avenue, Selfridges and more. Sephora will also be carrying Allies of Skin in every store within Asia – no mean feat for a beauty brand from the Little Red Dot. The 30-year-old shares, “I’m very proud to be Singaporean and I think it’s about time a Singaporean brand started making waves in the beauty industry.”
Despite his global success, Nicolas remains humble and grateful for his Singaporean customers. “I’m very lucky to have local customers who are supportive,” comments Nicolas who has a tattoo of his brand’s logo on his forearm that serves as a reminder of why he started. “My purpose is to help people feel great in their own skin.”
PHOTOS: VERONICA TAY / STYLING: LAUREN ALEXA / MAKEUP: HONGLING, USING YVES SAINT LAURENT BEAUTE; ZIWEI, PALETTEINC USING LANEIGE / HAIR: ASH LOI, ATELIER HAIR & BEAUTY USING KEUNE HAIRCOSMETICS SINGAPORE