When one is married to one of the nation’s foremost corporate figures, it is not surprising to find one developing a knack for business. That was certainly the case for Puan Sri Chloe Kim. The wife of Air Asia founder Tan Sri Tony Fernandes says observing her husband’s accomplishments inspired her to start a venture of her own.
“As everyone knows my husband is an entrepreneur,” she says. “I have been following him everywhere he goes and I have seen his achievements and I feel like I would like to challenge myself too,” she adds, describing Tony as her “biggest motivation.” “I can see that he really enjoys what he has achieved and he is still going on trying different things. I want to see my achievement too.”
Chloe who hails from South Korea moved to Kuala Lumpur in 2017, following her much publicised wedding. Having moved to a new country, proved to be a little challenging, hence the idea of starting a business on her own cropped up. “My husband felt that I struggled and one day he suggested that I start my own business,” she explains. “I began wondering what I could do and what I would like to do.” Venturing into the beauty industry seemed like an obvious choice. It is an area that she has always been interested in plus she felt that it was something that is commercially viable.
“All women care about their appearance,” she says. She is also someone who likes trying different products to see what works. Added to that is the growing popularity of Korean beauty products. The idea also received the stamp of approval from Tony who observed that his wife was often complimented for her complexion. “I began searching for a good Korean cosmetic brand and I found Civasan.”
The skincare brand, which was founded in 2016 bears the label “cosmeceutical” which means the products have both cosmetic and therapeutic/medical effects. The combination is intended to have a beneficial effect on skin health and beauty. The name is derived from two words – “civa” which means cosmetic integrity and “san” which means sacred. “It is based on a noble spirit to enhance the value of skincare,” explains Chloe. “The concept of the brand is to offer customised skin solutions to people with diverse lifestyles who have numerous skin problems. Our slogan is ‘skin solution by professionals for the troubled skin.’”
The philosophy of the brand resonates with Chloe who believes that everyone deserves to have good and better skin. “It is about finding the right and suitable product for you. We wish that we can make people happy using our products,” she adds. The brand is designed to address problems in the existing aesthetic market, which has seen consumers look for effective solutions. The products are also free from parabens, steroids and mineral preservatives. They are also free from animal cruelty.
“The solution is very specialised,” she explains. “Nowadays people look for doctors or medical intervention because they don’t really see a big difference when they use products. Our products are a combination of medical ingredients and cosmetic ingredients. They are easier to use easier to use. They are more special than a normal product. I used them for a few years and they really changed my skin. That’s why I decided on this.” Nonetheless, the first-time entrepreneur admits that the beauty business, like most industries today, can be challenging given how quickly trends evolve. “It changes fast and no one knows what the trend will be in the next two or three years,” she states. “We need to make sure that our business plan can deal with those changes.”
The brand also works on a different business model. It is not marketed like a typical retail product. Instead, it is supplied directly to aesthetic clinics. “It is quite hard to have a retail shop because we need to study the individual customers’ skin types and so on,” explains Chloe. The strategy is to educate aesthetic clinics to give treatment using the products. “Our concept is not to just put it in a department store and let people grab it, our products have to come with knowledge and information.”
She adds that the success of the brand is not just about getting people to try it but to convert them into “long- term devotees”. Achieving that means focusing on product quality and performance. And that will require constant research with customers as well as competitors. Venturing into something on her own too means she has to take sole responsibility for the brand. Thankfully she is able to turn to one of our most established entrepreneurs for advice. One piece of advice that he shares with her is that “people are the biggest asset for any company.”
“I value my team and recognise their achievements. If you have good people around you, then success is already yours,” she stresses. “It is the same with the customer as well. I put effort in the business to meet the expectations of our customers.”
Her own beauty regime, however, is pretty straightforward. Chloe is a firm believer of the power of sleep. “I am quite blessed because I can sleep anywhere, anytime,” she laughs. “Having good sleep is very important. It allows your body to be hard at work, repairing your skin cells while destressing your body.”
It was two years ago that Chloe caught the attention of the Malaysian public when news of her wedding made headlines. “We were really shocked,” she says. “The experience was quite new to me because I am the kind of person who doesn’t like to be the centre of attention.”
Thus far, her experience living in Malaysia has been pretty exciting. She confesses that she hasn’t seen much as she often accompanies her husband on his many travels. Adapting to a new culture has been quite easy for her as she has been living abroad since university. What’s interesting about Malaysia to her is the diverse culture. “It is quite new for me,” she says. “I am enjoying being here and I look forward to experiencing new things.”
Photographer Edmund Lee
Stylists Nigel Lee & Joyce Lim
Make-up Cat Yong using Giorgio Armani Beauty
Hair Artist Juno Ko
This story was first published in Prestige Malaysia November 2019 issue