Skincare in Malaysia is a multi-million dollar business, with profits set to rise in the future, as more and more users experience new brands and new products introduced into the market. In a recent interview, Jennifer Liew, founder of éPure Skin, shares with Top 10 of Malaysia her inspiring story on how she developed her skincare line backed by comprehensive R&D and grew her business into a phenomenal success.
“I’ve wanted to start my own business since I was eighteen,” says Jennifer Liew. “But my mother was sick. As the eldest daughter, I felt it was my responsibility to take care of her and my four younger siblings.”
Despite bearing these heavy responsibilities at a young age, she completed her tertiary education and obtained an Australian bachelor’s degree majoring in marketing and also an American bachelor’s degree in holistic nutrition. She had an interest in nutrition and wellness because of her mother’s disease.
“Being in the hospital all the time meant I was around doctors a lot. This was how I met a doctor specialising in aesthetics who later became my business partner. She helped me to conduct the R&D to develop our bestselling skincare products,” Liew explains. “In the seven years since we launched our popular jelly mask, we have sold 3 million pieces!”
How Liew made her first million is a fascinating story. She noticed that her young 18-year-old sister liked to follow bloggers online. Liew did some research on those bloggers and sent samples of her newly launched jelly mask to some of them to try. To her delight, the bloggers loved the product.
“A blogger posted the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos in her Instagram account. Suddenly, we received 1,000 orders overnight. We took three days to process these orders and deliver the jelly masks to the customers,” reveals Liew.
“The impact of social media was so powerful. During that time, bloggers shared what they experienced and “liked” as a form of personal sharing. Back then, there was no such thing as influencers being paid money by companies to promote their products. So, bloggers were genuine, and their followers trusted their reviews,” she adds.
“When we launched our first product, Facebook usage for business was still free of charge. Once we shared something, all our friends in our friend list would see it and it was easy to attract customers. Two months after we launched our products on Facebook, we made RM1 million,” says Liew.
From 2016 onwards, Liew’s company, Swiselle International developed other skincare products, including cleanser, toner, moisturiser and essence. In 2019, the company launched a paper sheet mask.
Liew’s determination and perseverance paid off beyond her wildest dreams. Swiselle currently has a presence in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia. In the next five to ten years, Liew hopes to enter new markets such as Australia, New Zealand, United States of America and Europe.
“It is essential to build a solid foundation for your business. Personally, I prefer a series of achievable short-term targets instead of large grand goals,” she shares.
“Every business faces challenges. In our company, the challenges include sustaining the business, and figuring out what is the right method to use at the right time. Because the digital landscape is changing so fast, we always have to keep track of new trends and new developments,” says Liew.
In terms of management style, Liew prefers to give her employees direction, then allows them the freedom to brainstorm to come up with new ideas. She does not want to be a controlling boss. In fact, she would like to be a mentor and develop more talents, which includes millennials.
Liew’s advice for the younger generation is to dare to fail and always remain positive. She cautioned them against staying in their comfort zone. She believes in working hard when one is young, healthy and energetic. “76% of old people regret they didn’t do their best in their youth. Don’t be in that 76%. Be the best that you can be. Embrace every experience, no matter good or bad, and learn from it,” says Liew.