Founder of beauty label Skin Inc Sabrina Tan has taken the brand to stratospheric global heights, expanding her empire beyond Singapore to Europe and this year, America. As successful a businesswoman as she is, few know that the birth of SkinInc was in fact, inspired by her two children Ashley, 11 and Asher, nine. In this interview, she shares how motherhood changed her view on life and how it helped her to conceive her multi-million dollar idea.
You started Skin Inc when your kids were very young (Ashley was three and Asher a mere one and a half years old), what made you decide to embark on the path of an entrepreneur then?
You know, it was precisely because I had no time with work and motherhood that I came up with the idea of Skin Inc. As a working mum, I had to balance work, time spent with the kids but I still wanted to make sure I took care of my skin. But I realised, how many busy mums have time to sit in front of a vanity and apply different products in order to achieve good skin.
It was then that I realised there was a need for a product that gives the fastest results, in the shortest time possible and in as fuss free a manner as possible. I thought, if I had a product that could brighten, hydrate and help with anti-aging, that would be fantastic. That was how I came up with the idea of the My Daily Dose customised serums where by mixing the ingredients in a bottle, you can simply apply one product and achieve multiple skincare goals. You don’t even need to go down to the beauty counter, you can do a skin check online.
A lot of my first products were inspired by my kids. For example, the overnight mask. I just didn’t have time to do a mask and I didn’t want to scare my kids with a white face. Which is why the overnight mask was created and it’s scentless and colourless.How has motherhood made you a better business woman?
It has sharpened my decision making skills. As a mother of young children, I had to be very effective with time management. I wanted to spend time with my kids but I was also running a business. I was very decisive. I simply couldn’t afford to waste time and compromise time with the kids.
How did you balance motherhood with running a business?
I feel like you need to help your other team members understand your priority and where you’re coming from and you have to be flexible. When I started Skin Inc, I was still breastfeeding. I would work only when the kids went to bed. Even today, I only take my calls after I put them to bed. I leave early, make sure I go home for dinner and spend time with them before they sleep. And then I work some more.
I also include my kids in my work. I’m about to go to Japan to visit my lab and I’m bringing my children along to learn more about the business. They were also with me in Spain when I did trade visits. Back at home if the kids have nothing to do I take them to the office and I let my staff do the same. I think too many bosses are so fixed in their ways but this sort of flexibility has worked for me and my staff.
As a result of that, I’m sure you’re just as flexible with your staff, especially those who are mothers?
Yes and I have a lot of mothers with me. For example, my retail staff get to combine six days of leave in a go if they need to go back to say, Malaysia to see their kids. One year, we flew the family of one of our long serving members from Philippines here to Singapore so they could spend Christmas with her (she always worked the festive season). I have other members of staff who requested for half day work arrangements. One of my members of staff is a single mum and we station her permanently at one of our outlets that isn’t open on weekends. Until today she still works for me. We make it work.
And you know, it has worked well for us. Because we are willing to be so flexible, my attrition rate is very low and we attract a lot of other mothers who want to work for us. You know what’s really nice. When our staff get pregnant, they are not afraid to announce their pregnancy. I know that sometimes women are afraid to tell their bosses they are pregnant. But not at Skin Inc. We celebrate the happy occasion together whether it be in the office or the stores.
Can you share some beauty tips for busy mums?
Use an overnight mask that you can wear to sleep. It’s a one-step solution allowing you to skip the night cream and eye cream. It’s fuss free and achieves maximum impact because your body heals when you’re at rest.
What tips do you have for first time mums?
You’re the best mum for your kids and don’t try to be perfect.