The founder of homegrown beauty salon Caring Skin shares her entrepreneurial journey of making healthy skin a possible reality for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin
How I’m Making It is a weekly series in which Tatler speaks to influential individuals about their unique journeys and what keeps them going.
When Subrina Liew first ventured into the highly competitive beauty industry, all she wanted was to simply help the community. Liew made her vision a reality in 2013 when she founded Caring Skin, a facial spa that makes use of cutting-edge technology to target the ever-changing skin issues faced by both men and women. The brand has now evolved into a beauty salon chain that is very well known in Singapore.
As a mother and business owner, Liew has always believed in being genuine and what better way to do so than by giving back to the people around you. In her five years as an entrepreneur, Liew has proven that with integrity and hard work, success is in fact, very achievable. A simple, real and down-to-earth entrepreneur, Liew believes in delivering the brand promise of “Delivering happiness, sensitive to your needs”, prioritising customer satisfaction.
Liew has always made this her priority, constantly asking herself what can be improved to make customers stay with Caring Skin. In fact, she believes that it is the “customer obsession which is very part of Caring Skin's DNA” that has enabled the brand to attain such high customer satisfaction in the form of over 3,500 five-star reviews.
Liew also believes in prioritising the welfare of her staff members. She shares: “Every business exists to solve a problem. The people are the backbone of every business. We believe in people so we hope to create an environment where human touch can be felt by all our stakeholders, including our customers, employees and suppliers.”
Besides constantly checking in with her Human Resource (HR) manager on the company’s employee retention rate, Liew's beauty brand recently commissioned a HR consultancy for a Human Capital Transformation Project which consists of a Workplace Happiness Survey (WHS). The company did extremely well for the survey, scoring 80.1 per cent against the National 71.4 per cent on the Workplace Happiness Index. Though the ambitious entrepreneur is happy about the results, she continues to dedicate resources to find ways to support her staff.
Over the years of building her business, she has motivated her employees and has inspired them to achieve extraordinary results. Just like how she hopes to win the hearts of her customers during their skin transformation journey, she hopes to be able to do the very same with her employees.
Below, she shares more about her day-to-day life with us.
What is a typical morning like for you?
Subrina Liew (SL): Usually, I wake up in the morning at 6am to prepare my kids for school. After which, I do some tabata exercises to get blood and oxygen flowing to the brain. Eating well is very important to me. One of my favourite breakfast meals to prepare is two half boiled eggs with avocado and a glass of lemon water to go along. Ensuring a great morning beauty routine is also very important. In the morning, I prepare my skin for the day ahead. When I look good, I feel good. As a modern woman, I believe that dressing up well is a good way to start off the day.
I have always believed that we are what we repeatedly do and we should set up each day for success. One of my goals for 2022 is to develop healthy habits that will allow me to be in control of my schedule. This I feel, can be accomplished through my morning routine which sets the tone for the day.
How did you get here? What inspired you to set up your own establishment?
SL: When I was a beauty consultant almost a decade ago, I often faced customers who were so depressed over not being able to find the right solutions for their skin problems that they would break down in front of me. This inspired me to set up Caring Skin, a brand which makes it easy for people to achieve naturally healthy and happy skin.
Did you have anyone who guided you along this journey? If so, how did the person help you?
SL: Initially when I first founded Caring Skin, I could only rely on myself. I’m thankful that my partner is able to join me in this venture after five years. We share the same passion of solving problems and positively impacting the lives of others. We chose to focus on the niche market of sensitive and acne prone skin as it is one of the trickiest skin problems to solve. There are many stories of couples who went into business together but were ultimately unsuccessful. Thankfully, my partner and I complement each other really well. He is an analytical problem solver, whereas I am more of a people’s person.
What does a standard workday look like for you?
SL: I like to start off my day by going over my schedule and having meetings with various departments. This is crucial for goal setting, and for the departments to share the challenges they have faced before deciding on what step to take next. For the second half of the day, I will reserve my time for business innovation and interviews for expansion, working very closely with our external lab to review the progress of our product development. Sometimes, I will randomly pop by the outlets and if there happens to be an available slot, I will test out the hands-on skills of our aestheticians. This is necessary to ensure consistency in delivering excellence in both service rendered and customer satisfaction.
How would you describe your working style?
SL: I am thankful to be working with a great team. At Caring Skin, we have an honest and open communication culture which makes it easier for the team to approach me and allows me to give every member my full support.
What traits/ values do you think are important for success?
SL: I think passion as it helps us turn our aspirations into reality. Being genuine is also important. We should always build genuine relationships and not just transactional ones. At Caring skin, we emphasise on the no-hard selling policy that we have put in place as we believe we should not put stress on our customers. This builds a customer-focused culture and ensures provision of greater customer satisfaction. Lastly, I think being an active listener is important for success. We take all feedback seriously, including feedback from our staff as it helps to increase employee engagement, motivation and productivity.
What do you do in your free time?
SL: Aside from work, I treasure spending quality time spent with my family. Sometimes I will sign up for creative activities together with my family or travel around Singapore with my friends to find great and interesting food. (P.S. Japanese cuisine is my favourite cuisine.) I love listening to music, watching Netflix, taking care of my dog or having a cup of sake to unwind.
How would your friends describe you?
SL: My friends would describe me as passionate, honest, kind, and helpful.
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What are some important lessons you have learnt?
SL: Success is not defined by the resources you have, but more about making the best out of what you have. The journey of learning is a never ending one, so never wait until you are ‘fully equipped’ to make an idea happen. Also, every business exists to help customers with their problems. If you can take care of your staffs, your business will be taken care of.
What are some obstacles that you have encountered so far in your journey as an entrepreneur?
SL: Finding people who are passionate, result oriented and willing to work towards the mission together is extremely tough, yet very critical. Sourcing and developing the best formulations has also not been easy. We never compromise on the quality of products and to ensure they are the best, we source our products globally and conduct an intensive amount of research and development. Ensuring consistency can also be tricky. As the team expands, ensuring consistency in the delivery of excellence services has been an obstacle.
What do you wish to achieve in the future?
SL: We hope to expand our range of services by tapping into the medical territory and diving into beauty tech. Beyond a business standpoint, I hope Caring Skin will be able to have more corporate social responsibility campaigns that will benefit society.
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
SL: I would invest more in myself as I believe this is the best investment and would allow me to look for opportunities that will impact me greatly. I would also think bigger. I feel that we should never constrain ourselves, instead we should get out of our comfort zone and turn challenges into opportunities. Lastly, I would manage my time better and learn to prioritise tasks to be more efficient.
What advice do you have for people who want to start their own business?
SL: You must have a blueprint for success. In other words, believe in yourself. Identify the blue ocean strategy and take calculated risks to ensure higher success rates. Differentiate yourself by taking action to be the best in your field.