A beauty junkie from a young age, Winona Tan has always felt inspired to give back. Whether in or out of the workplace. When a relocation to Hong Kong left her tired of the pace of corporate life, she explored the idea of starting her own label. Soon after, WANT Skincare was born! We caught up with the down-to-earth beauty entrepreneur to find out about her journey.
Tell us about life before starting your own skincare label
Growing up, I was very fortunate to have everything I needed and wanted. My mum, however, grew up poor but was still always helping out friends and family in need. You could say that the importance of giving back and paying it forward was instilled in me at a young age.
Prior to starting WANT, I was working in the IT industry and managed to get the company I worked for to make their first charity donation to ROLE Foundation to build an IT laboratory in Bali!
What’s the story behind the birth of Want Skincare?
About two years ago I quit my job and moved to Hong Kong to live with my boyfriend. For some reason, at the time I didn’t feel inspired to look for a new role. Instead, the epiphany came that it is a now or never moment to start something of my own. At the same time, I was reading more about harmful chemicals in skincare and was on my own journey to cleaning up my beauty routine. Being a skincare junkie, WANT happened very organically and naturally from there, and I knew I wanted it to be an ethical company that gave back.
How do you go about sourcing and creating your products?
In the beginning, I spent many hours sourcing for ingredients with companies and cooperatives who were willing to work with a small company like WANT. Persistence was definitely key!
When it comes to creating a product, I consider the nurturing properties of an ingredient and how well they work together with others and our existing product range. My favourite skin-loving ingredients to work with include bergamot, honey, ginger and cocoa! Many of these are my go-to foods. For me, it’s important to use elements that nourish skin, for beauty inside and out!
You have incredible skin! What’s one product we should be using from your range?
Definitely the Face Oil! I carry a mini version in my bag all the time when my complexion needs some TLC. It keeps my skin soft and glowing.
You’re passionate about being an ethical brand. How does WANT pay it forward?
Our formulations are fair trade which means our prices are slightly higher, however, you know that the money is going to the rightful pockets of the farmers harvesting the ingredients. On the side, we also contribute BaliWISE, a charity based in Bali that provides education to women in Indonesia. I strongly believe that education is the key to ending poverty.
Running your own gig isn’t easy. What have you learnt along this journey?
I try to focus on being true to who I am, using what resources I have and in general, doing what I can because otherwise, I think I’d feel overwhelmed by the competitiveness of the skincare industry. Also, being an entrepreneur has definitely taught me to always keep learning and not to be afraid to ask for help. Most importantly, always look your best as you have to represent your brand!
In Asia, the majority of consumers are still very brand-driven. The natural beauty trend is definitely catching on, but there is still a huge gap when it comes to educating and changing the perspective of customers. Ultimately, I believe we should be choosing the right products for our skin and not following fads or trends.
Ultimately, what drives you to do what you do?
Doing what I love and giving back while at it. One of the best things that has happened for me is meeting other small business owners who are all so inspiring and supportive.
There is this Chinese idiom,饮水思源 (yin shui si yuan) which literally means when you drink water, think of its source. For so long, we’ve been living in this hyper-consumerism society whereby we are buying more than we need. This generates wastes and pollution which goes back to the land and water we need to survive on. It’s high time that we choose quality over quantity and be kind to our environment. Less is more.
“It’s high time that we choose quality over quantity and be kind to our environment. Less is more.”
How do you take steps in your daily life to live a little more consciously?
Be present, learn self-love and ignore society’s expectations. Being a curious person, I’m always learning and moving forward.
How do you #shopmeaningfully?
Always bring your own shopping bag! Go for products made of natural ingredients or fibres. The less something has been processed, the less waste and pollution is involved.
Shop the full range by Want Skincare here.
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Susannah believes better design can help create a brighter future. A former magazine editor, she now runs ZERRIN and works at the intersection of consumers, brands and sustainability advocacy.