Written by Sarah-Eden Chan, CEO of 24 Saturn
Helming The Brand Since 2015
Till today, 24 Saturn is self funded and there's no surprise that the people working on it are women. I've spoken to many men about the brand and during the first year, tried to attract venture capital funding only to have men and male venture capitalists tell me they just don't get it. What's not to get? The top designers of women's fashion are men, the top hairstylists are men, lots of well known makeup artists are men, catch my drift? You don't have to be a woman to understand things that have a strong association with women. Besides, skincare is quite universal, men are starting to get on the band wagon of self grooming.
Looking back at when I created the brand in 2015, it's a path worth walking, a journey worth taking and a cause work investing in. There's a reason why skincare is always evolving and that's because it's very scientific and like all things science, new discoveries are made every year by passionate scientists and ordinary people who make new discoveries on skincare practices somewhere in the world that's not yet well known or people discovering that a certain formula helped them through a skin disaster and they hope that it'll help others.
I keep up to date on the new brands that hit the market. Independent brands and those owned by the conglomerates. I observe those that rise and those that dwindle away. One thing I know - Never be intimidated by a well known brand. The life of a brand depends on customers. If a brand stops being relevant, they will lose their customers. If you're a newcomer, don't even think about stealing away customers and competing with the big guys, think about how the big guys are upsetting the customers and work on making them happy.
My role as a CEO is about thinking two years into the future. Whatever range we produce was thought of about a year ago and once that's launched, there's already another problem I'd like to work on that's dwelling in my mind and I spend my time seeing how to solve that in the next year. It never stops, it's always about the next thing.
It's also about meeting more people who share my hunger to modernize skincare and have the daring ambition to become a skincare brand designed for the next decade, at least. I love collaboration, I think that big things happen when you collaborate with people with different skills who share the same ambition. It's not about working with people who have the same skills as me, it's about working with people that have skills that I don't or who do it way better than me.
Where We Are Today
I spend a lot of time these days on defining ourselves as a brand. What do we mean to natural skincare lovers in Southeast Asia? What are we really trying to do in terms of using our expertise to better the future of skincare? Why do people who care about skincare, care about it? Can I create a new business model based on an online skincare business that's going to make sense now? In short - How do we stay relevant in this market.
I think transparency is key. Thanks to Google, anything you need to know is simply a search away. Customers are so well informed now and they make their own decisions on what they think is good for them. Information aplenty and it's so easy to make product comparisons. But there's still this yearning for a better future for skincare. You would think that it is what it is, you can't break the inherent skincare practices preached for years by the big brands or those that have been passed down through generations. I have observed that consumers are so well informed, they're skeptical and they look for honesty and sincerity in a brand. They're definitely open to better ways.
I conduct my own insights by reading reports, reading expert analysis and data, having conversations and making observations and I see that people are turning away from rigid regimes and are looking for individual solutions that yield short term benefits. Trend is still a relevant pull factor and natural skincare is here to stay. In fact, the most basic requirement consumers expect of a brand is to have no animal testing, to be non-toxic and to have natural ingredients.
One of my priorities is continuing to make our products in Singapore. We have the capabilities for it and our partner laboratory is subject to the strict regulations of Singapore. They've been around for a decade and we support their capabilities to research and develop the best quality natural skincare, which they have been doing for years and they currently serve a list of doctors by creating these healing creations using the latest in skincare tech.
To sum it up, our identity as a brand is a skincare tech company that creates the best quality natural skincare inspired by the latest discoveries in skin health and designing them into everyday products for people who aspire to have the best quality in skincare tech. My vision is to make designer natural skincare whereby our products are released in collections that reflect the research and development done over the course of the year or so.
Thoughts For The Future
Venture capitalists have asked about my exit strategy. Am I intending to sell. I say, no.
We're still at the beginning of the kind of impact we want to make in this industry and we're still self funded, so our business is built on the premise of serving the interest of customers, not investors.
I've heard and read about stories of seller's remorse - Where founders regret ever selling their businesses to conglomerates. I believe that a good idea comes once in a lifetime. I think if we make it as a brand, it's because we're doing something right for our customers and we're relevant to the market. If we don't, we will have to stay nimble and observant.
I hope that 24 Saturn will continue to stay innovative and to evolve to be more relevant. We've come a long way since our simple one page display of 6 or 7 random products, to creating body care, to finding our voice through the no-moisturizer box set and regime. Today we're designers of quality natural skincare inspired by the latest discoveries in skin health.
Our goal is to continue to serve customers who aspire to have the best quality in skincare tech because quality matters a great deal to them and I can only share my thoughts as a founder that I am this customer exactly and I am making these products for all those who are just like me - Demanding and curious.