SINGAPORE - Birthing a business during a global pandemic is no easy feat, especially in the beauty industry, which has taken a backseat for many consumers. Here are three local beauty brands who powered through with their launches.
The line, started by 23-year-old medical student Zoen Tay, focuses on clean skincare, made in collaboration with a local beauty spa founded by her parents in 1991.
Ms Tay started her brand after realising many of her peers knew very little about skincare.
She launched a single product - the Antioxidant Night Mask ($89) - last December. Her fiance, actor Joshua Tan, 29, runs the brand with her.
The products are manufactured here, with most ingredients flown in from Japan and Switzerland.
The Glow-It-Yourself Treatment Kit ($279), launched this month (July), is tailor-made for use at home, but with the same ingredients a professional facialist would use.
The couple were cautious and kept their expectations low for the new brand, but despite the pandemic, it has seen some success with more than 2,000 orders in the first six months.
The endorsements from friends in the entertainment industry do not hurt.
"I started this business not wanting to put too much into marketing," says Ms Tay, who plans to release a sunblock next.
"I learnt from my parents' marketing methods, which was word-of- mouth. That way, people trust you."
Available at: Zyu
The sister brand to home-grown Allies of Skin (AOS) has been in the works for two years, says Singaporean founder Nicolas Travis, 32. The brand started research and development for the formulas in 2018, finally launching just before the global lockdowns in end-March.
Conceptualised as "a skincare line for Gen Z", PSA Skin - which stands for Purposeful Skincare by Allies - taps on AOS' reputation for ingredient-forward formulas minus the heftier price tag.
PSA Skin debuted in Sephora Asia with four products, which include a brightening toner, Heroine ($45), that features mandelic and lactic acid; and Goals ($58), a blemish repair serum boasting a blend of acids and probiotics.
Due to Covid-19-related delays, the brand was unable to debut its full range of seven products. But launching PSA Skin has been "the best thing we've done", says Mr Travis. "It allowed us to capture and serve a different customer base - a new, younger demographic we didn't have access to previously because of AOS' high price point. We've been very fortunate to have been able to grow and expand during this tough global climate."
For now, marketing efforts have been kept "very grassroots", with a focus on social media content and paid collaborations with global influencers to spread the word.
"We'll start our global public relations blitz once we launch with our other international retailers like The Hut Group in Britain and the United States; and Cult Beauty and ASOS later this year."
Available at: Sephora
A year in the making, Jung Beauty is Korean fashion and beauty e-tailer Ksisters' first flagship brand, after four years of curating and distributing indie Korean brands.
It debuted last month with the 2 Step Steaming Hair Spa ($50 for five sheets), a two-step hair mask meant to recreate the salon experience of steaming and nourishing hair.
When pop-ups in March were canned, the brand conducted a consumer test event instead.
Samples were sent to more than a hundred consumer testers who signed up to try the new product, and who were encouraged to share their honest reviews.
Founder Jungmin Lee, 33, says: "We received so much user-generated content and great verbatim feedback about the product."
About 5,000 boxes were sold in the first four days of its launch.
Ms Lee had considered delaying the launch till next year, but felt now was "the right time".
Salon trips might be a luxury for some and she could bring it affordably and safely to consumers' homes instead.
"It's a difficult and unstable time for everyone. We took into consideration the poor economic situation and how this may affect consumers' willingness to try new products," she says.
"But we felt our products would be appreciated during this time for its convenience and comfort, which may in turn help improve the stay-home experience."
Jung Beauty will eventually launch skincare as well, with one to three new products each year.
Available at: Ksisters