Having battled acne for more than 10 years, Rachel Wee, 33, had tried out various skincare products in the market. Instead of clearing up her skin as she had hoped, the products dried out her skin, leading to a damaged skin barrier and bouts of vicious cycle of acne.
Frustrated at not having found the right product, she decided to create her own skincare line that is effective yet gentle on the skin.
She started up Oh Hello Bae in June 2020, roping in her older sister Cheryl Wee, 34, and cousin Ashley Goh, 31 as business partners.
Sharing more about the skincare startup, Rachel described Oh Hello Bae as a “clean beauty brand” that uses natural ingredients to treat skincare concerns such as acne and skin sensitivity.
Their skincare products are formulated without any toxic ingredients such as parabens, phthalates, sulfates, synthetic fragrances and other harsh chemicals.
She added that she had actively documented her acne journey on Instagram and reviewed different kinds of skincare products, which led to the build-up of “trust” between her and her followers.
As such, when she shared about the launch of Oh Hello Bae, her followers expressed their support in her new venture and formed part of her early pool of customers that bought her products and left reviews on the website.
300 per cent sales increase in six months
According to Rachel, each of the co-founders invested “just enough” to purchase their first batch of products, with some additional funds to foot the operating costs.
When it comes down to the R&D process, Rachel shared that it can take up to a year.
“We come up with a product concept/idea, and I research on the ingredients as well as its formulation. Then, the sampling begins — there’s usually several back-and-forth to test out the texture, effectiveness, and ‘feel’ of the product (until) we are satisfied with the final sample, and (have it) ready to go into mass production.”
Although the business was conceptualised in Singapore, their products are manufactured in Australia. This posed a problem in terms of shipping and logistics during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We launched during the start of the pandemic, and we faced a lot of delays with overseas shipping,” she said.
She went on to recount a time when they had to conduct pre-orders instead because their products could only arrive in a few weeks’ time. Due to the late shipment, they had to apologise and explain to each customer but thankfully, they were all very understanding about the shipping delay due to unforeseen circumstances.
Despite these hiccups, there was a silver lining to the pandemic. With mask-wearing made mandatory, mask acne (or maskne) became a common skincare problem. Their acne care products gained popularity, with ‘Acne Eraser’ becoming one of its best-selling products.
Additionally, with more people staying home and going online during this period, their e-commerce sales also spiked.
In the past six months, Oh Hello Bae recorded a 300 per cent sales increase and a 50 per cent rate of return customers. Although their customer base is geographically diverse, the bulk of their customers hail from Singapore.
Customers are the core part of their business strategy
Rachel admitted that they started out the business not expecting their products to be so well-received among the customers.
“We were delighted that our customers loved our products, especially our star product ‘The Acne Eraser’. We managed to sell out in just two to three months after our launch,” she shared.
Moving forward, the co-founders are excited to bring the brand to greater heights. What’s different from when they first started is that they now better understand their customers, who double up as brand “ambassadors” that organically spread good word about their products.
“Speaking to them has helped us during the rebranding (process) and to upgrade our formula. (Furthermore), building our community on Instagram helped propel our business growth,” said Rachel.
To further stay competitive in the global market, Oh Hello Bae also plans to penetrate overseas markets — particularly in Asia — this coming year.
With plans to go global, Rachel said that it’s important for the team to first conduct market research and find the right distributors and partners to work with. “What works in Singapore might not work in other markets,” she advised.
However, while one may read and research a lot, she feels that the best business lessons happen in real life; so if you have a business idea in mind, just “start small and start imperfect”.
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Featured Image Credit: Oh Hello Bae