Believe in the power of community. On some days when you feel big goals are impossible, or when you feel like giving up, you need to lean on your like-minded community. You can even “borrow” motivation, and in turn “return” with your own inspiring stories to pay it forward.
In this special column called the “TLC x Fempreneurs Series”, we will be featuring inspiring Female Entrepreneurs (Fempreneurs) in short. You will be able to have a sneak peek at their mindsets and their daily habits.
Meet Kristin Chen (IRÉN Skin)
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am the Co-Founder of IRÉN Skin, an innovative J-Beauty brand that is based on fun customisation and powered by a new science of serum. Made in Japan, with clean and vegan ingredients. We are very science-focused and all our products are developed within our all-female R&D team. Our products fulfil the promise of visible results backed by science, and customisable to adapt to the specific skin concerns of ever unique skin. We are available in Asia and Europe and I currently divide my time between Tokyo, Paris and Singapore.
What got you started on your business?
Having lived and worked in many countries throughout my career life, I was often exposed to different climates, environmental attacks, stress and even hormonal changes. My skin went through turbulent changes because of that. Back in the days when access to information was more limited, I would spend a lot of time studying ingredients and the correlation it had on the different skin conditions. My decade-long of research proved to be useful when I decided to create my own brand. IRÉN Skin was born out of frustration with the overflow of generic skincare products in the industry. I envisioned a brand that would provide real results, backed by science, that can be customised to adapt to the ever-changing skin conditions. That was how IRÉN Skin started.
Before you started on your business, what did you do on a full time basis?
I have been in the beauty industry for almost 20 years now. It all began when I was a part-time beauty consultant during my studies. Upon graduation, I climbed my way up from sales to operations, marketing and eventually management. I also worked in various countries in Asia and Europe for beauty brands and cosmeceutical brands.
What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?
Women still struggle very much with work-life balance, especially for working mothers and female entrepreneurs. Throughout my career life, I had to make many difficult choices and personal sacrifices. One of the biggest challenges in the journey of IRÉN Skin, was the formulation of products. As I did not want another generic skincare brand, all our products are specially formulated within our own R&D team. Making them customisable to adapt to specific skin concerns proved to be more difficult that I first imagined. There were issues with contradiction of the active ingredients.
To make it even more challenging, we were constrained to choices of ingredients, as we were determined to only use safe, clean and vegan ingredients. I have to thank my wonderful R&D team, it is through team work, persistence, and plenty of sleepless nights that we overcome each obstacle that came our way. I would never be able to do it alone.
Who inspires you?
The name IRÉN is inspired by Irène Joliot-Curie, the second woman in history to have won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Even though her mother, Marie Curie, was much more recognized as the first woman in history to win a Noble Prize in Science, I wanted to pay a tribute to Irène, as she was not only a notable woman in science, but also very active in promoting women’s education and fighting for gender equality, which was really impressive considering that was in the 1930s.
What excites you most about your industry?
Beauty has always been my passion; I am very lucky to be able to working on something I love everyday. I feel inspired and motivated to be surrounded by like-minded people, we share the same beliefs and the same goals. The most rewarding part of the job is knowing that besides empowering women and making them feel more confident about themselves, we are also making a difference, albeit small at the moment, in closing the gender gap.
What is your vision / personal motto?
Treat others how you want to be treated. I live by this personal motto. I believe that if one does not want to put certain ingredients on their own skin because it may be harmful or it doesn’t do any good for the skin, why would they want to sell that to others? It is important to be honest, be human, be kind.
My personal journey would be all about celebrating beauty and empowering women. We currently have scholarship programs rolled out for women who want to pursue science in our effort to motivate and empower women in science. We also started flexible working hours for working mothers to help women with their struggle in work-life balance. I would continue building the brand to fulfil the promise of being ethical, honest and transparent. We are looking in ways to be more sustainable. I also hope that in the future we can do more in closing the gender gap.
Do you have any word of advice for other ladies who are starting their business / starting to pursue their dream?
Just do it. Sometimes we wait for the perfect product or the perfect strategy, it would never happen. There would be failures and there would be many changes. Embrace the journey and improve along the way.
How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?
IRÉN Skin aims to empower women by providing unfiltered knowledge on ingredients, skincare and skin conditions, so that women can make informed choices on skincare purchases, instead of blindly following passing trends and hypes. We want women to feel confident about themselves, and be comfortable with who they are. Hence, our products emphasize very much on efficacy and visible results, in order to make a difference to the skin and help women feel confident about themselves.
What have you learned recently that you hope the other ladies can take back?
What is one thing you are grateful for?
I will be forever grateful to my team members and my customers who have been very supportive of us every step of the way.
What do you do in your free time as self-care? How do you unwind?
These days, I find having me-time is a rare luxury. But when I do get the time, I would put on a facial mask, go through an elaborate beauty ritual, light a candle, and read a book. Spending some quiet time alone is essential in finding balance in a fast-paced, urban life.
Let us know more about what you do!
IRÉN Skin is a Japanese skincare brand that integrates age-old rituals with cutting edge technology, and breakthrough new frontiers. Taking an avant-garde approach, IRÉN Skin is born to surpass the under-regulated standards of the skincare industry with these convictions:
1) Ethical skincare based on transparency and honesty,
2) Customisable solutions for the unique skin,
3) Visible results backed by science.
You may find us featured on MilliOnAir Magazine (UK), Science & Skincare Magazine (UK), Her World (SG), Cleo (SG), Expat Living (SG), NUYOU (SG), Motherhood (SG), Ô Magazine (France), Jazmyn (Canada).
Connect with IRÉN Skin!
Are you a Fempreneur too?
Connect with us – we’d love to feature you! Say hi to us at [email protected] or reach out to us via our social media.
Read TLC x Fempreneur Series:
- Race Wong, Ohmyhome
- Delphine Lefay, OnTheList
- Johanna Monange, Maison 21G
- Alverna Cher, City Funeral Singapore
- Hong Choy Yin, Tots Society
- Pearline Foo, Spring Breeze Marketing
- Evangeline Leong, Kobe
- Maddy Barber, Madly Gems
- Ezza Yusof, 2morrow Official (Malaysia)
- Julie Yim, Lilin+Co (Malaysia)
- Nadia, HelloBello (Malaysia)
The rest of the Fempreneur interviews can be found here.