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Beauty & Co Founder Yap Yann Fang Interview on BFM – Enterprise (Open for Business)

Co-Working Space For Beauticians at Beauty&Co. 

Interview with BFM RADIO (Part 1)

Co-Working Space For Beauticians at Beauty&Co. 

Interview with BFM RADIO (Part 2)

Interview between Speaker 1 (Freda Liu) and Speaker 2 (Yap Yann Fang)


[Introductory Music]

This is a download from BFM 89.9, The Business Station.

Freda:  Good morning, this is Freda Liu, you’re listening to Enterprise. According to Allied Market Research, the skincare market in Malaysia is expected to reach $1.28 billion by 2027. However, the beauty industry like many other industries was severely impacted during the pandemic. A veteran in the beauty space is here to share how they have pivoted. I’m here with Yap Yann Fang from Beauty & Co. Good morning, Yann. 

Yann:  Good morning.

Freda:  Yann, we spoke 10 years ago. I did my research in 2011 when you had another business called Bizzy Body. What happened there?

Yann:  So, Bizzy Body is the first brand that I started. I started at a very young age when I was 25. So, then in 2011, I think our business boomed up. We had close to 30 outlets at that time. And in 2012, I actually sold the company to an MNC, a big corporation, and I was with contract with them for four years and I exited the company in year 2016. 

Freda:  And then, when did you start Beauty & Co.?

Yann:  So, I started Beauty & Co. in 2018. When I wanted to start this business, what makes  what inspired me to start this is actually I went to U.S. in 2017. So, I went to Zappos Culture Camp, and that kind of changed my life perspective. When I came back, I realized that I am still very passionate with beauty industry and I wanted to, you know, elevate the industry to a new height by uniting the beauticians under one platform. 

Freda:  Right. 

Yann:  So, that’s why I started Beauty & Co. in 2018. 

Freda:  Okay, tell me more about the Zappos camp. What was so life changing?

Yann:  I am a fan of Tony Hsieh, which unfortunately recently, he passed. Yeah, so, it was like quite many years ago, I was a fan of him and he started this book called Delivering Happiness. So, when I read this book, I felt connected, in a way, because he talks a lot about customer service. And I was thinking, how can we wow customer just through phone, right? And we, in the beauty industry, we are so close to customer, and sometimes customers are like half-naked with us, right. We spend so much time with them.

Freda:  [Laughs] Yeah.

Yann:  How can you wow them? So, I read a lot on his book and his YouTube, everything, and in 2017, I think, “Okay,” you know, “I need to do something. Let’s just go to this camp.” So, when I went there, it gave me a lot of affirmation of what I think I am doing. Previously, even as a young entrepreneur, I might not have a lot of confidence in what I do, you know. Like, is it right to be kind when you’re an entrepreneur, you know? Too soft, or things like that.

So, when I went there, it actually gives me a lot of affirmation that, oh, the things that I do is right. And they also have a lot of challenges when they are building a culture in a company, but I saw that how they actually filter off things that they don’t believe, filter off things that they don’t value, and just focus on their vision and the value that they really believe in.

When I came back, I started to draft what is my vision, like what I envision I want a company to be. And I also looked into the values that I love, and what are the values that I don’t like. 

Freda:  Okay, so, what is that vision of Beauty & Co.?

Yann:  [Laughs] I think at that time in 2017, I kind of get a little demotivated about the industry. It’s like, it’s kind of a messy  like, there’s a lot of price war, there’s a lot of integrity issue where there’s a lot of products that are not registered with banned ingredients; there are a lot of beauticians who do illegal services like aesthetic and cosmetic surgery, things like that. So, I get a little demotivated. Like, how can we survive in an environment that is so unethical, you know?

So, then I thought, “Yeah, I should actually level up. How can I unite the beautician that actually value what I value?” Like integrity, great customer service, innovation. So, I think, I just need to unite the people that believe what I believe. It might not be a big community. But if you unite these people together, we can also build a small community that can actually level up the beauty industry.

Freda:  Which is really interesting, because you’ve got a co-working space for beauticians. I want to talk about that in just a moment. So, with Beauty & Co., how many outlets do you have now? 

Yann:  Right now, we have six. We have six, and we have one co-working space at Gardens.

Freda:  Okay, and I want to find out how you work that, but before that, right, I was listening to out podcast from 10 years ago, and the questions I was asking you  and in 10 years, the industry has changed so much, right. What have you seen changing in the last decade in terms of, I guess, what customer wants, customer behaviour, that sort of thing? 

Yann:  I think what drastically changed for the past 10 or 20 years, I think, pampering became a necessity. You know, like 20 years ago, you hardly see any massage centres, you hardly see in beauty centres. I don’t think you will see aesthetic clinics. It used to be dermatologists, but you hardly see any aesthetic clinics. But right now, you can see any business centre, you will see all these massage centres, hair saloon, facial, aesthetic clinics. So, I think pampering has evolved to become a necessity. 

And I think innovation also has changed a lot. Like, if you look at the technology available nowadays, it’s amazing. Like, how can you lose weight by just freezing the fat. How can you build muscle by just lying there, and like pigmentation, and things like that. Wow. To me, it’s just very, very impressive in terms of innovation. 

Freda:  So, I know you have a major outlet, Beauty & Co., in the Gardens which is a co-working space for beauticians. What is your vision in setting this up? 

Yann:  So, when I set this up, I am also thinking, “What is my strength?” what I can contribute to this industry. I looked at, I am good innovation. I’m good in training. I’m good marketing. Which usually, these are the weakness of beauticians. They are usually very good in hands on and service, but usually they are not that good in terms of innovation and marketing. I also looked at a lot of business model that are using a shared economy business model, like wework, like Airbnb, like Grab. So, I was thinking, “How can I also share resources with all the beautician in the market?” I started to draft my plan. Actually, this plan was drafted quite long ago, I think about two years ago. So, when I drafted this plan, I’m just thinking, what are the things that we can share, like location; we can share machineries, like technologies; we can share, like, how can we share training, innovation, all these type of things. 

And then I start to look into numbers. Is it able to sustain this business, is it able to be profitable for beautician and for us as well? Yeah, so, it took me quite a while to evolve the idea. 

Freda:  Yeah, ’cause I find that what’s happened with this space is that a lot of them sometimes, you know, stop work or, you know, they find it very challenging to open an outlet, right, but they’re good at what they do. So, now they have the  they can actually use a co-working space, and the overheads are not as high. 

Yann:  It’s true. Because I am already in this industry for more than 20 years. So, what I have seen is actually there’s a lot of beauty centre open and they close, and open and they close. And most of the beautician, they quit their job also because of the long hours. After some time, they are in the industry for 10 years, they have their family, and they have kids, then they start to quit. Which I feel is really a waste. You know, after 10 years of experience, your skill is so good and you leave the industry. I’m thinking, you know, beauty on demand, or this co-working space, will be really good for them.

Freda:  Right. So, they have clients that like to follow them, but if they close down, they can’t follow them anymore, but now they have this option of going to this place and I guess a beautician can open as and when that the beautician wants. 

Yann: Yes, correct. 

Freda:  Right. Okay, we’re going to talk about your B & Co. clinic in just a moment. I’m here with Yap Yann Fang from Beauty & Co., you’re listening to Enterprise, BFM 89.9. 

[Intermission Starts]

Beautiful festive moments. BFM 89.9, The Business Station.

[Intermission Ends]

Freda:  This is Enterprise. Good morning, I’m Freda Liu. I’m here with Yap Yann Fang from Beauty & Co., and last year, she started a co-working space for beauticians, which is very interesting, right, because no one’s really thought of that before. You also have a Beauty & Co. clinic. So, this one provides aesthetic services as well? 

Yann:  Yes, this provides aesthetic service like Botox, fillers, and the minimal invasive treatment.

Freda:  And this is where you need a doctor, right? So, a lot of people, be careful when you go to a place that don’t have a certified doctor to do these treatments, right.

Yann:  Yes. So, when you go to a clinic, you make sure that these doctors has a LCP license. And also needs to be careful because I also see that recently, a lot of Instagram, they claimed they are clinics, they claimed they are LCP-licensed, but they are actually not.

Freda:  Okay.

Yann:  So, yeah.

Freda:  Basically, look at the doctor, see if there’s a certificate behind the person. 

Yann:  But unfortunately, there are fake certificates out there. 

Freda:  True as well.

Yann:  It’s really hard. It’s really good to really ask in detail. And I think, go to a place that you can really trust. If you see that it’s a little dodgy, and especially those clinics that do a lot of surgery, like, yeah. That usually are fake clinics. 

Freda:  Right, okay. Okay, so, you shouldn’t be doing surgeries and all that sort of thing. You’ve also gone into stem cell treatments, and this is under the clinic?

Yann:  Stem cells actually is still not in the clinic. This is a new project that we are planning to do. So, still not in the clinic yet.

Freda:  Right. In terms of marketing, how are you marketing? Is it with online media, social media, that sort of thing?

Yann:  We do online and offline as well. Online, basically, of course, social medias like Facebook ads. And offline, we do a lot of collaboration. Like, we do 12:51 word] as well. Collaboration like, of course we are located at Gardens Mall, we have Gardens Club members, and of course we have credit card members, golf club members, you know. So, we do a lot of collaboration as well.

Freda:  Okay, so, you know, you’ve been in this industry for a long time, right. What still excites you about it? 

Yann:  I think, you know, in this industry, it’s always evolving. Like, it’s a very fast-paced kind of industry. Every year you have new innovation, you have new things that’s coming out. So, I think this really keeps me excited. And also, I think, transforming people really keeps me motivated and satisfying. Like, how we transform a customer, how we transform a beautician. That keeps me like, yeah. I love this industry.

Freda:  Right, okay. Do you find more men now seeking treatments, compared to 10 years ago?

Yann:  A lot more. A lot more. And you’ll be surprised, actually. Men, they wanted to look good. 

Freda:  Yes. 

Yann:  It’s just that sometimes they have not been to a beauty centre before, so they are still not comfortable to walk in to a beauty centre.

Freda:  So, are you doing some of your marketing towards men to capture that market?

Yann:  Yes. So, we are doing collaboration with golf clubs. These are like 90% of men. Yeah. 

Freda:  Okay. And, you know, attracting talent to join you, right, how do you get talent to join you? And, you know, to retain them, what is your career roadmap for them when they join your company?

Yann:  We recruit people in two ways. One is full time staff, and the other one is freelancer. By weekly basis, I will have a beauty masterclass. So, basically the class will talk about the industry, the people that we want, and the career path in our company. That’s how I recruit people. I think on a biweekly basis, we will have like 50 attendees.

Freda:  And I know last year you also did a lot of webinars, and that sort of thing as well. 

Yann:  Yeah, I think I started Facebook live webinars, Zoom, because of MCO. Without the MCO, I am actually quite an introvert person. I’m not very comfortable to do a Facebook live. But at that time during MCO, I think the demand is high, and we have nothing to do. I feel bad if I’m not doing anything. So, yeah. Almost on a daily basis we are doing Zoom training; on a weekly basis we are doing Facebook live. So, until now, I’m still doing it. Yeah, I got comfortable with it. 

Freda:  Okay, what are the sort of topics you cover? 

Yann:  On Facebook live, we talk about sexual health. Like, better sex, better life. There’s an episode called ‘Better sex, better life’. We do it every three weeks. And we have one which is talking about life of a beautician. We also do it every three weeks. And another episode we will talk about services and treatments that we offer in our platform.

Freda:  Yeah, okay. So, obviously, with a topic like ‘Better sex, better life’, there is a product that you have already. How receptive are people attending these sort of things? 

Yann:  Actually, I see a very huge market in this sexual health, because surprisingly, I mean, I have never talked about sex openly previously, until we have these sexual health treatments that we offer in our space. Then I realise, it’s quite a high demand. Like, a lot of people have problem with sex, but they have no one to talk to. They have no one to talk to. So, when we start to talk about this, we start to normalize this conversation. I think people are more comfortable and open to talk about it. 

Freda:  Right, so this is what you see also changing with the people here in Malaysia. You know, I guess, Yann, what has the pandemic taught you as an entrepreneur? I think this must be the worst has happened to you and many other business owners. 

Yann:  Yeah, I think this pandemic forced us to grow, and evolve, and be flexible. And I have never worked so hard in my life, you know. For the past one year it was like all work, and work, and work, and you don’t know whether you’re doing enough or not because the market falls, and business are locked down, and things like that. So, I think one thing I learned that I become less anxious. During the first MCO, I was super anxious. Like, every day I do 10 things, because we just opened two weeks before MCO started. So, it was like we invested like 5 million in a new business, in a new business model. I was very anxious during the first MCO. 

But I learned that it’s really important to over-communicate. Like, over-communicate with your team, that they understand what is your challenge, what is the company situation, are we able to pay, are we not able to pay. So, I think over-communicating is really, really important. And also, over-communicating with your customers. So, that’s why we are trying all channels to keep in touch with our customers. We do live, we send messages, all sorts of ways to connect with them. So, yeah. I think this is what I really learned.

Freda:  Interesting, to over-communicate. So, 2021, what are we looking at, your plans for this year? 

Yann:  Um, basically, I’m not sure whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. Due to pandemic, I think our business for co-working space, actually, demands are high. Because there’s a lot of small beauty salons that close down, and people are more afraid to start a business at this time. So, the demand for a co-working space is actually very high right now. And even right now, I was like thinking, how can we expand our space. Because when you come to our outlet right now, it’s kind of

Freda:  Full? 

Yann:  Packed. 

Freda:  Okay. 

Yann:  Yeah, full. [Laughs]

Freda:  Wow. Wow, so, okay. 

Yann:  I think the next plan would be thinking how can we expand this co-working space. 

Freda:  Right, okay. You know, thanks for sharing your journey with us again. It’s been interesting the last 10 years, the last 20 years, that you’ve been in this industry. Thanks for spending time with us this morning. I’ve been speaking to Yap Yann Fang from Beauty & Co. You’ve been listening to Enterprise, I’m Freda Liu. BFM 89.9. 

[Ending Note]

Thank you for listening to this podcast. To find more great interviews, go to BFM.my, or find us on iTunes. BFM 89.9, The Business Station.

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