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This Penangite went from the claw machine biz to handmaking clean skincare products

Born with sensitive skin, Terresa Tan used to get rashes and redness out of nowhere. Calamine and steroids provided her with some relief, but their efficacy stopped after some time.

One day, she decided to try essential oils and natural products, and to her surprise, they worked.

“Natural products work slower but safer,” said Terresa, who has since founded a Penang-based skincare business that produces all-natural products.

It seems like she isn’t the only person reaping the benefits of going natural, as her business, Glow and Blush, managed to hit its first six-figure annual revenue last year.  

Releasing her grip on a previous business

Before Glow and Blush, Terresa already had some experience with business, handling four toy crane shops with over 50 machines.

Image Credit: Glow and Blush

For some time, business was good—then the pandemic happened.

“During the lockdown, the malls didn’t give any discounts on the rental,” Terresa shared to Vulcan Post. “So, we had to close [the stores] one by one, but there’s one left in Queensbay Mall. We suffered a big loss.”

But Terresa had another dream. Influenced by her sister’s profession as a beautician, she always wanted to have a beauty brand of her own. At this point, she had already started selling soaps and scrubs for family and friends, but she didn’t see it as a serious source of income.

In March 2020, as Malaysia descended into an unprecedented era, however, Terresa found herself spending more time and effort on Glow and Blush. She decided that it was the year for her to take the brand seriously.

And that she did.

Pumping out the products

With a startup capital of RM1K, Terresa got her show on the road. The first product she formulated for Glow and Blush was their body polishes. She came up with three variants—French Rose, Lavender Oatmeal, and Arabica Coffee.

Image Credit: Glow and Blush

After two months of starting her business, Terresa decided to upskill by taking a skin formulator course. Before that, she didn’t dare create facial products, knowing that it can be harmful if she gets them wrong. Thankfully, the course provided her with adequate knowledge and taught her how to create big batches of products consistently.

Now, Glow and Blush boasts over 20 different products, including mousse cleansers, moisturises, clay masks, oils, serums, and lip balms.

“I’m an enthusiastic skincare formulator,” Terresa said. “It has become a passion now. Knowing that customers’ skin conditions have healed or improved is my real happiness now.”

Terresa also uses her own products. In fact, she claims that since she learnt how to formulate her own skincare, she realised she wasn’t going to use any other products ever again.

Image Credit: Glow and Blush

Though she personally tests her products on her sensitive skin, she makes sure to test on others too so that Glow and Blush can target various skin types including oily, dry, and combination. Her mum also plays a part in seeing how the products work for more mature skin, while Terresa’s friends and younger sisters cover the rest of the age range.  

Advocating clean beauty

Bolstered by Terresa’s own experiences with her skin, Glow and Blush uses carefully curated ingredients.

“We source ingredients by making sure it doesn’t harm our skin or health in the long run,” Terresa said. “All materials are locally sourced. That’s our benchmark of choosing the right ingredients.”

However, it’s not easy working with natural ingredients. Without the support of strong chemicals like alcohol, some Glow and Blush products can only last a year. To cope with this, the two-person team at Glow and Blush create small batches at a time.

“Each product is handmade, and we only produce 30 to 50 bottles each batch,” Terresa said. “We take around one to two weeks to sell them off.”

Image Credit: Glow and Blush

Terresa recommends refrigerating the products to prolong their shelf life, though it’s not compulsory. Powder-based products such as clay masks and cleansing grains also last much longer (up to four or five years).

Like many beauty companies these days, Glow and Blush also focuses on eco-friendly packaging. Terresa said she was already living a simple and sustainable life before starting Glow and Blush, so it was natural for her to continue supporting the movement in her business too.

Thus, many of Glow and Blush’s products are packaged in glass containers, and they even have a glass bottle return programme where customers get RM1 for each glass bottle returned.

“We do not have a physical store to better promote that yet,” Terresa said about the programme. “We are currently only practising that with our customers here in Penang.”

Glowing down the road

But there are talks for a physical store in the future where customers can experience the products in person, and the Penang based founder also shared that there are plans for a KL expansion soon. Although, these aren’t at the top of the team’s agenda.

“Based on our experience with pop-ups, we still think that our online platform is doing a lot better,” Terresa pointed out.  

The online nature of the business also meant the pandemic didn’t pose a serious threat to their sales. In fact, Terresa thinks the lockdown might have helped with Glow and Blush’s brand awareness.

However, even though the company hit its first six figures last year, it hasn’t been consistent. Terresa believes that as people came out of the lockdown, the numbers have started to dip.

Although she is grateful for the community of loyal regulars that she has fostered, she hopes to attract newer audiences. Her goal is to have 80% of sales come from new customers with the rest being from returning ones, but right now it’s around 50-50.

Despite unstable numbers, Glow and Blush is already shipping to many countries including Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United States. The products are even physically stocked in a Maldives store that reached out to Terresa.

This year, she hopes to bring that to even more people, including those in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

  • Learn more about Glow and Blush here.
  • Read more articles we’ve written on Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Terresa Tan, founder of Glow and Blush

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