In the market for handcrafted, cruelty-free makeup brushes? You can #supportlocal and get your hands on some from homegrown brand 13rushes. We got its founder Tay Yu Hui to talk about the brand and how she overcame hurdles to run a successful business.

Why did you set up 13rushes?

I felt that there was a lack in selection in the market and the makeup brushes available were simply not up to par. My mission is to provide good quality, synthetic alternatives that everyone can afford, and I hope to convince my customers to make a lifestyle change and opt for cruelty-free brushes whenever possible. I personally feel that looking good doesn’t need to come at the cost of harming animals. 13rushes has a simple moniker: “Make-up brushes; as good as the real thing, none of the guilt.”

Most people launch skincare or makeup, and the makeup brushes are just a part of a larger collection. Why did you choose to focus on brushes?

Companies were already started moving towards cruelty-free manufacturing and testing when I first was interested in makeup. However, in my search for animal-friendly makeup brushes, I could not find a single cost-effective synthetic brush option, so I decided to make my own.

Which are your bestsellers?

Our Travel collection – Brea’s Adventure in the rainforest is definitely our signature product and bestseller. This kit provides a complete solution for both beginners and pro users and comes with a storybook on a little girl’s adventure in safeguarding the welfare of our furry friends.

Another bestseller is our Gudetama collection of products. I was quite surprised at how well-received this Sanrio character is in Singapore. The Gudetama bag sold particularly well and is seen as a collectible by many of its fans.

Which is your favourite brush?

My favourite is the Universal Do It All brush, co-designed by Larry Yeo. I am really proud of it because it turned out exactly like how we envisioned it to be. New users tend to be overwhelmed with the array of choices they have and get confused about the type of tools to use, and this is the brush I would recommend them. It is super multi-functional and can be used with all face makeup.

What are some tips for caring for our makeup brushes?

UV degrades the integrity of both synthetic and natural fibres, so do not dry them under the sun or in the UV sterilisation box if possible. Your bristles will feel coarser over time. 

Secondly, heat can also damage the glue or structure of the bristles, so I would not recommend drying the brushes with a hair dryer. However, there are instances where we can use heat to our advantage. For misshaped synthetic bristles, dip them in a hot water bath of 70 degrees celsius and the bristles will return to their original shape. Make sure the temperature does not exceed 120 degree celsius.

Lastly, store your brushes in a cool and dry place. Humidity is bad for the wooden handles!

Tell us more about your collaboration with Her World.

13rushes has been looking to support causes that help women, so it was such a good timing to be approached by Her World. This brush kit features some of our softest bristles and was assembled using as little components as possible. This makes recycling a lot easier as it reduces the amount of waste generated during production. Also, in line with Her World’s continued efforts in empowering women, 13 per cent of the sales of these kits will go to Dress for Success Singapore.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had in your entrepreneurial journey, and how did you overcome it?

It was difficult finding reliable manufacturers and suppliers. For one, most of them are some distance away from Singapore. And then, I had to invest tremendous effort and time to find a manufacturer who was willing to work with me at my requirements, quality standards and budget.

Also, some unethical companies are unfortunately experts at making high quality imitations and I once made the mistake of letting a single supplier handle the entire process end-to-end, from sourcing to production to shipping. Imagine my surprise when I found similar designs on the market within months of production.

Communication and patience are key. I learnt to understand that we might not achieve perfection all the time, and that it is important to communicate what went wrong and be open to future opportunities to work together again. My supplier and i have reached a certain level of understanding now and discovered new techniques to improve the quality of the brushes.

Another challenge was figuring out how to differentiate my products from new and innovative competitors. For 13rushes, we go to extreme lengths to trace our products up the value chain to ensure that it is truly sustainable and animal-friendly, and we demonstrate all of that through our videos and testimonials. We have also been looking into using more sustainable materials like pineapple leather to replace the synthetic materials we are currently using.