Sabrina Tan is only half-joking when she describes the skincare industry as a highly competitive blood sport. After “10 bloody years” in the arena, she ought to know. The good news though, is that Ms Tan and Skin Inc, the company she founded in 2008, are sitting pretty in the beauty world. The homegrown brand-gone-global has a glowing reputation among millennials and enjoys double-digit growth, with a healthy bottom line that’s boosted by a strong online presence. But she doesn’t plan to sit still.
Skin Inc’s breakthrough was a customised approach that blends beauty with technology to create a one-size-fits-one skincare universe. Potential customers complete an online Skin Identity Check that provides specific information (let’s call it ‘skin-tel’) on their lifestyles and skin condition. Each person is prescribed a custom-blended, ‘caviar-inspired’ serum comprising different active ingredients that remain encapsulated until applied to the skin. The company has well over a million ‘skin profiles’ – each with its own barcode - in its database.
Photo: Instagram / @iloveskininc
Ms Tan, 45, spent a decade marketing computers and software in the IT industry before a sensitive skin condition and the mom-preneur in her (she has two children now in their early teens) led to a switch in career paths. She developed the customised serum encapsulation concept with researchers and manufacturers in Japan, then packaged and marketed the finished goods to appeal to audiences in search of a simple and effective skincare routine. Skin Inc products are available at retailers and e-tailers like Sephora, Amazon and Bergdorf Goodman. The company also has two skin supplement bars in Singapore.
Ms Tan says she is a proud disruptor of the beauty scene who works hard to stay ahead in the skincare game. As someone who is constantly time-challenged, she isn’t averse to appropriating the occasional Skin Inc tagline to get her point across. Asked to encapsulate her business philosophy, she says without hesitation: “Customise, don’t compromise.”
Skin Inc celebrated its 10th anniversary with a three-day bash last month, bringing in social media and brand influencers from around the world. A live stream of the event attracted seven million views with a reach of over 80 million. Those are impressive numbers.
Photo: Instagram / @iloveskininc
That’s what digital is all about today. The core concept was to showcase Singapore, and Skin Inc as a homegrown brand that’s gone global. It coincided well with the Crazy Rich Asians craze, and we took guests to Newton and Ce La Vie on the same night. The experience is what drives a lot of content today and we want to project being grounded yet dream big at the same time. There was the real experience of the store as well as cultural exchange between us. There’s a lot of real science behind the digital marketing, making sure the message gets out there. Our point of differentiation is to marry tech with beauty, tech and lifestyle. Our lives are disrupted by technology in a positive way, our perspective is more global and there’s speed to market. Coming from a tech background I had the foresight 10 years ago to create a product that is backed by data – we were able to navigate consumer behaviour.