This week on FEW Member's Corner, we would like to introduce you to Phoebe Song, Founder of Snow Fox Skincare, an organic beauty brand born out of the unique intersection of Traditional Chinese Medicine and cutting-edge western technology.
About Snow Fox Skincare
This is plant-based skincare at its best. Founded by a Rosacea patient, our formulas are complex and multi-layered, designed to focus on delivering real results. Rather than just symptom management, Snow Fox is best used as a daily Routine.
What inspired you to start your company? What was the main issue or pain point you were trying to address?
I was an analyst at a bank in Hong Kong, where I was able to really look at upcoming global market trends. I really did believe the research forecasting a massive boom in the Beauty and Wellness sector worldwide, especially in Asia. So I set up Spa Monkeys Ltd, as a vehicle to invest, develop and produce new consumer brands in Beauty and Wellness. Snow Fox Skincare is the first Beauty brand we launched, motivated by my own skin and health problems - I have a medically incurable skin condition and wanted a real solution to my issues. Little did I know that it would hit $1m USD in retail sales in less than two years, with celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian blogging about us. We have some other brands under development as well, so hopefully those will echo this effect.
So far, what's the most challenging part of your journey?
Timing - one of my earliest projects was a platform to track & create content, however we were too early - small businesses did not want to pay for content then and social media boosting was still very new. Nowadays, influencers are getting paid up to $25,000 USD for a post and there are a ton of similar platforms backed by huge capital.
Can you share a bit about your fundraising journey so far -- mistakes to avoid and best practices? I have not raised a single $. We were offered funding and still get funding offers often, but what I've learned is that the best money is your own money - and PROFIT.
What tips do you have for growing teams?:
Invest in people who have real passion for what they do. People who genuinely love your product, your brand and its story - because money can't buy authenticity and you need that in your sales people.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
Trusting the wrong people. When you do well, a lot of seemingly well-intentioned people come out of the woodwork to offer you partnerships - due diligence only goes so far, so always have a safety net underneath in case they turn out to be bad.
As a startup or new business, how do you build credibility and trust with your customers, your stakeholders, your business partners, etc.?
I am traditional in this sense - I go by walking the talk. People talk so much these days, so you should really look at what they do. I have made mistakes and am definitely not perfect, but I can say for certain that I am clear cut, honest and direct, even if it means coming across as less "pleasing".
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
1. Capital - the marketplace is crowded and you're going to need money to live. Save and take care of your investments and make sure you have a clear cut budget in place with an emergency buffer zone that should alert you when you go down to critical levels. I've hit that buffer plenty of times but because it stressed me, my team and I were able to bounce back.
2. Mental Resilience - Get ready for stress. Lots of it. Sounds terrible, but I believe that some stress is good for building resilience and realistically, most start ups don't survive. Mental resilience - the ability to keep focused, sharp and still have time to laugh, smile and relax; it's a part of entrepreneurship that people should be aware of as it makes or breaks you and your business.
3. Failure - Failure isn't when something doesn't work. That's learning, as long as you take what you've learned and come back stronger. If I had accepted my first project as "just a failure", I wouldn't have Snow Fox today.
What is your personal success? What is company success?
Personal success is being able to be a happy mother, wife, friend and boss all at the same time. Company success is seeing the hope and happiness on my team's face as we all grow together.