Serene Yap is no stranger to hustling and running many different projects at the same time.
At 16, she joined the beauty industry, working as a professional make-up artist.
Since she also struggled with sensitive skin, she researched different ingredients and tried different brands, eventually finding a solution to her problem.
This was what inspired her to launch her beauty business in 2013 with the objective of educating the market about skincare products.
So, she started as a reseller for skincare brands and supplied to some online agents. That was also when she hit her first road bump.
“I experienced being cheated by suppliers; for example, they sold at a cheaper price to my competitors,” she said.
While still managing that, she decided to start Sprizy, a handcrafted flower business, in 2017 as flower businesses were trending then. She was also doing it for a second source of income.
However, juggling two businesses is never easy and it came crashing down in December 2017, when she had to make the painful decision to close down Sprizy.
Finding The “Why” To Her Business
Some people say that being an entrepreneur is glamorous but Serene said that you need to be willing to get your hands dirty, to learn and build everything from scratch.
In the case of Sprizy, she was inexperienced in the flower industry and didn’t see the value and passion in her business at all beyond its monetary benefits.
“I was without a biggest WHY behind the scene,” she explained.
Another reason for her struggles was her inability to focus on Sprizy while working as a beauty skincare reseller at the same time.
This all led to the flower business having no direction, and that got translated into losses.
“I thought I was capable enough to start many businesses at the same time but I was wrong,” she admitted.
“Of course I talked to many successful entrepreneurs and business mentors to seek their advice,” she added.
Motivated by her self-reflection and their advice, she decided to commit full-time to her beauty business.
Last year, once she found her biggest “why”, she started Lavier, a natural skincare line that contains no steroids. It also serves as a platform to educate women on how to start an online skincare business.
“I would like to use my personal experience to inspire more women from the perspective of being an end-user and a skincare entrepreneur,” she added.
Empowering Women Entrepreneurs
Lavier is a skincare principal company and a B2B2C platform for skincare entrepreneurs.
It is also a community that empowers its members through the sharing of daily content through group chats, live events, videos and talks about women empowerment, and knowledge on how to start their online business.
“Most of the time, I share my own entrepreneurship journey and experience with them, provide training, encourage them to understand their own values, and promote the importance of being financially independent,” said Serene.
“Seeing them improve every day not only just income-wise but also personal development is really something I’m proud of it.”
The team also organises offline events to bring together people for sessions where they can share their struggles with one another. From there the team will see how they can help them to overcome situations and increase their inner confidence.
As for products, the team directly deals with the research and development team from overseas and keeps a minimum order quantity of the stock.
A Look Back At What Came Before
Deep understanding of an industry, communication with industry professionals, and a financial roadmap are important when running a startup business, shared Serene.
“You need to identify how far you can scale the business and focus on your strengths.”
Her biggest lesson was learnt from her experience with Sprizy where she didn’t conduct proper research on the flower industry which led to problems in acquiring clients and scaling their business.
After that, she did her best to research on the beauty industry, from downstream to upstream production, and focused on her personal strengths before launching Lavier.
“Learn and explore as much as possible, get a mentor to guide you in your journey,” she added.
“Be prepared as it is not going to be glamorous for the first 3 years. There is a lot of hard work to do. Be brave enough to take on all the challenges.”
Moving Forward With Lavier
Lavier is planning for a new product launch in the 3rd quarter of 2019. They are also in the midst of discussions about a merger and acquisition with another skincare company.
“We are trying to consolidate all the resources from upstream to downstream, bring in strategic partners and investors to scale-up our business,” said Serene.
“We will complete a whole series of skincare products and form another sub-brand under Lavier to develop healthcare supplements in three years.”
“As for myself, I hope to help as many women and young entrepreneurs as I can.”
- Find out more about Serene’s journey with Lavier on the official website.
Feature Image Credit: Lavier