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It all started with a dream—a dream of empowering women and making beauty accessible.

In 2011, with no “fancy education”, Jesslyn Ho embarked on a journey with just three staff to transform the Malaysian beauty scene.

Fast forward 13 years later, with 34 outlets across Malaysia and four lines of businesses, Bubble Gum X has gained a significant market presence, providing employment opportunities for over 200 individuals.

This is the story of Bubble Gum X, Malaysia’s leading waxing empire built on passion and perseverance.

From humble beginnings to national recognition

Jesslyn understood that many women desire to look impeccably beautiful, but facial and body hair could undermine their confidence. 

And so she opened the first Bubble Gum X outlet, a small space with just three staff members in Sri Hartamas.

At that time, waxing services were relatively unknown and even considered taboo in Malaysia. 

Not one to back down from challenges, she instead saw this as an opportunity to change perspectives and introduce women to the benefits of waxing.

Image Credit: Bubble Gum X

“Jesslyn’s philosophy was to always know what you’re doing or selling. No matter how hard you work, if there is no heart poured into your work, it’s impossible to succeed,” said her sister, Norhanani Abdullah (Nany), who is also the deputy CEO of BubbleGum X Group of company and DUA Beauty Sdn Bhd, their new skincare line. 

Slowly but surely, Bubble Gum X began to blossom. The company embraced growth opportunities, diversifying its services to include Xthetics (advanced technological treatments such as laser), lash extensions, and nail care. 

Overcoming challenges

The early days were tough as the initial reception to waxing was lukewarm. Waxing was a niche market with little exposure, and societal taboos made it difficult to attract customers. 

So, they offered promotional prices, seasonal campaigns, and even free trial sessions to prove the quality of their services. This dedication to excellence slowly but surely built a loyal customer base.

“Prices start as low as RM 19 (with T&Cs), making us the leading waxing company that provides the cheapest packages in the market of Malaysia,” Nany told Vulcan Post.

Image Credit: Bubble Gum X

At the operational level, Bubble Gum X invests heavily in training. However, like many in the retail industry, Bubble Gum X frequently faces the challenge of staff turnover. 

“Despite holistic training provided, when it comes to dealing with human beings, we can’t force anyone,” she shared.

Recognising their staff as their greatest asset and ambassadors, the company does not shy away from investing significantly in training and development. 

Therapists and consultants undergo at least three months of training to equip them with the necessary knowledge and confidence before serving customers. 

“Action speaks louder than words, we walk the talk. We ensure the training provided to all our therapists and consultants is upgraded from time to time to align with the market needs,” Nany added.

Jesslyn understood that this business was not just about beauty; it was about self-hygiene. Regular hair removal could prevent unpleasant body odours and other hygiene issues. 

“Thus, we encourage our staff to be accommodative and alert to both—the needs and the problems of our customers always. And, seeing the call to educate people about healthy lifestyles and good hygiene habits is what keeps us doing what we feel responsible for doing,” shared Jesslyn’s sister.

According to her, this approach has been key to attracting and retaining customers, building trust, and cultivating loyalty.

Image credit: Bubble Gum X

The road to expansion

However, promotions alone are not sufficient to maintain a competitive edge. 

Over the past 13 years, as market exposure and affluence have increased, so have customer expectations, Nany said. 

To meet these demands, Bubble Gum X introduced TheWaxXpress, Malaysia’s first mobile waxing service. 

This innovative concept brought waxing and laser services directly to customers’ doorsteps, catering to the hectic lifestyles in the Klang Valley. 

By going from one compound to another, TheWaxXpress made beauty services more accessible and convenient.

“We saw potential opportunities to diversify our business, and we took it with no doubt,” Nany told Vulcan Post.

Plus, Bubble Gum X also forged strategic marketing alliances and joint ventures with notable brands like AirAsia, Grab, ATOME, Celcom, Digi, Watsons, Maybank, and RHB. 

These collaborations enhanced their visibility and customer reach, ensuring that more people could benefit from their services.

Venturing into skincare

Founders of DUA, Nany and Jesslyn / Image Credit: Bubble Gum X

The story doesn’t end there. As Bubble Gum X thrived, Jesslyn and her sister Nany launched DUA, a natural skincare line inspired by their team and aimed at helping customers avoid harsh chemicals in skincare products.

“DUA” stands for “two” in Malay, reflecting their partnership, and also means “pray,” symbolising their faith and hard work.

The DUA range prioritises natural ingredients, catering to a diverse range of skin concerns.

Extensive research and development went into each product, ensuring effectiveness and affordability. 

DUA aims to address the gap in the market for skincare products that prioritise natural ingredients. 

With the duo’s experience in running a successful brand, DUA seems poised to make a similar mark on the industry.

Image Credit: Bubble Gum X

Looking ahead

As Bubble Gum X reflects on its journey, there is a deep sense of gratitude for the support of loyal customers and dedicated staff. 

Jesslyn acknowledged the importance of learning from mistakes, particularly the early struggles with proper management. 

Today, meticulous planning and strategic initiatives ensure the smooth operation of both brands.

As they look towards the next five to ten years, they envision Bubble Gum X and DUA reaching new heights, both locally and internationally. 

Their journey is far from over, and they are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. The goal is to leave a legacy of empowerment, improve lives, and continue making people feel beautiful and confident.

  • You can learn more about Bubble Gum X here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Bubble Gum X and DUA

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