For Charlene Goh, 45, her foray into soap- and gift-making began when she was planning to tie the knot.
“I was sourcing for door gifts for my wedding three years ago.”
Not finding anything suitable, she decided to make her own soaps to give to her guests.
Later, she teamed up with Tania Michelle Nathaniel, 40. “We met through a mutual friend. Tania has the same interest, and has been making soaps and gifts for her family and friends for quite a while,” says Goh, who works full-time in the IT industry.
“I love seeing how these skincare and body care products help them,” says Nathaniel, who works in the medical sales line. “Charlene and I have a strong sisterly bond, we complement each other and work well together.
“We both have a passion for making homemade products and helping people,” she adds.
Both wanted to go further with their shared interest and to explore their creativity. “We sell our items at bazaars three to four times a year, for festive and special occasions,” says Goh.
“We found that pop-up markets are a great opportunity to launch and grow our brand, generate sales, and reach out to new customers in new locations.
“Pop-ups also help us to understand trends and consumers’ behaviour, thus helping us to strategise our marketing plan and incorporate new business insights into the market,” Goh adds.
“At pop-up markets, we get to talk to the people who come by and get their honest opinions and first impressions of our products as they get to feel the items.”
Also, she says, pop-ups don’t require a large investment.
“It’s a low-risk starting point for entry-level entrepreneurs like us. It allows us to develop our business and gain customer loyalty, as well as experiment with new ideas. And it allows us to test all aspects of marketing, from product and promotion to pricing, to see what resonates with consumers.”The enterprising duo makes assorted items, including customised gifts, under their label TLC Smooches Bath & Bodylicious.
Besides candles and soaps, they also make bath bombs, body scrub, toner, serum, facial wash, cleanser and lip balm.
“Due to my sensitive skin, we source for natural ingredients that don’t have harmful chemicals,” Goh says.
They started off by selling their handmade products to their friends and relatives, relying on word of mouth to spread the news. Eventually, they took their business online and at bazaars.
Goh says that pop-ups have great potential to generate public relations or marketing opportunities to expand their brand’s reach even further, and for an extended period of time when social media is used before, during and after the pop-up event.
“Sales have been pretty good and encouraging as more and more people are looking for natural beauty products that have no preservatives, fragrances, colourants or harmful chemicals,” she adds.
In the not-too-distant future, might the income gained from this enterprise be enough to fully sustain them?
“Anything is possible with the right mindset,” quips Goh.