August is here and so begins our month-long Singapore-themed features on our picks of local game-changers, be it fashion, art or beauty. Today, we’re putting Singaporean female beauty bosses on your radar. These women inspire us with their bold entrepreneurial spirit and their desire to make the world a better place, one skincare product at a time.
1. Sabrina Tan of Skin Inc
You could say that Sabrina’s flair for beauty entrepreneurship is inherited — growing up, her mother ran a chain of three beauty salons. But before the Skin Inc founder followed in her mother’s footsteps, her life took a different path: She was in the IT industry for 11 years. There’s little doubt that her extensive experience in this field makes her brand so successful as Skin Inc fuses the latest technology with powerful ingredients to create potent, custom formulas. Sabrina’s vision of becoming the “Apple of skincare” is coming to fruition as the brand is now stocked in multiple countries across the world including Australia and United States.
2. Lynsey Lim of Handmade Heroes
Lynsey Lim found her passion for skincare in her teens, using basic ingredients to create natural face masks. But it was her creation of gift sets for her sister’s bridesmaids that ignited her business savvy. A year into her banking job, she gave up a stable lifestyle to create Handmade Heroes: A 100-percent natural and vegan skincare line. The struggle paid off — the brand was soon stocked by Isetan and Tangs and her Ultra Sexy lip scrub quickly became one of Amazon’s bestsellers. From personally creating her hand-blended products in her kitchen, Lynsey’s business has grown exponentially. Handmade Heroes is now based in Singapore and Malaysia and is run by her and her husband, as well as a small team in Kuala Lumpur.
3. Alli Sim of Mmerci Encore
We meant every word when we dubbed Mmerci Encore ‘Singapore’s most aspirational aromatherapy brand’ and it’s all thanks to founder Alli Sim. A former beauty editor at a leading women’s magazine, Alli’s background in the publishing industry has served her brand well — Mmerci Encore’s narrative of self-care is one we all aspire to achieve. Her childhood is one most beauty junkies can only dream of. At eight years old, she was already working up a storm in the kitchen, blending herbs, oils and fresh produce to create natural remedies. Her family holidays took them to farmers and producers, igniting her love for only using natural ingredients found at the source. A rediscovery of her love for feel-good beauty spurred to leave her job as a beauty editor to start her own brand of soulful skincare.
4. Cheryl Gan of Hysses
Cheryl Gan has always had the entrepreneurial spirit in her veins — her first attempt at building her own business was to sell soya beancurd. While that might have failed, her second shot worked a dream. Like many successful entrepreneurs, Cheryl Gan made bold moves and took chances — she left a civil servant position in business technology to pursue aromatherapy after visiting a trade show in Thailand. Despite not having any entrepreneurial or beauty experience, Cheryl catapulted Mount Sapola’s success with the help of her husband Low Cheong Yew, the co-founder of Home Fix. Now a household name in Singapore, Mount Sapola rebranded in 2017 with a new packaging and name — it’s now called Hysses.
5. Constance Mandefield and Tuyen Lamy of Alcheme
Tuyen and Constance are a power duo — they are former colleagues at Clarin’s where they headed the retail and training, and strategy departments respectively. After talking to numerous women and realising that many of them were clueless about their skincare concerns, they saw a need for personalised skincare. And Alcheme was born, with the goal of making skincare routines highly specific experiences. The brand does this by first offering an online skincare consultation, and then use facial recognition technology to create skincare formulas tailored to each client.
6. Wendee Lee of Biconi
Not all beauty bosses can describe their formulas as farm-to-face, but Wendee Lee can certainly lay claim to that as her family owns a Noni farm in Malaysia. The evergreen tree is the secret to Biconi’s healing formulas — the fruits contain high antioxidant properties that helps to revitalise skin and hair. Together with her mother, Wendee looked to natural ingredients when her father was diagnosed with colon cancer. Her first experiment was a soap bar made with homemade noni enzyme — and the brand Biconi was created. Today, the brand continues to champion native Southeast Asian ingredients.
7. Nerissa Low of Liht Cosmetics
One of the newer brands to join Singapore’s lineup of clean beauty brands is Liht Cosmetics. Founder Nerissa Low founded the brand based on a very personal need. Low once suffered from severe acne and endured steroid injections and medication. But her skin improved after she switched to organic alternatives. Comprised of up to 90 percent organic-certified ingredients, the formulas do not consist of synthetics, parabens, nano-particles, and talc. They’re also natural enough to be eaten, and are kid and pet safe.
8. Lily Kew of Kew Organics
Lily Kew is unlike your typical beauty boss. For starters, she doesn’t wear makeup. “I believe in feeding my skin with the right skin food,” she says. Kew took matters into her own hands after years of battling skin issues, enrolling in a beauty college to discover the best solution for her skin. She created her own water-based organic skincare line, designing her own organic facials. Today, Kew Organics fuses high-tech machinery with pure and clean organic skincare, that works to balance skin’s pH level and generate cell regeneration.
This story was updated on 6 August 2019