Kew Organics founder Lily Kew chats about her make-up free mission, running a business while expecting her second child and her advice to wannabe mumpreneurs.
Here at HoneyKids, we love meeting mums from all walks of life. We’re always impressed by how amazing women are at embracing all the challenges of motherhood and juggling all the demands that come with raising kids in Singapore. And we’re especially wowed by mums who launch and run successful businesses at the same time (yes, we know we have the same number of hours in our day as them but, hey, Netflix). Enter our latest ‘Cool Mum’: Lily Kew, the founder of Kew Organics, who’s all about natural beauty, wellness and organic skincare.
If you’ve heard of Kew Organics Facial Bar, that’s Lily’s brainchild. She launched the first one at Everton Park in 2014, and has since developed an award-winning organic skincare range and Sugar K Organic Peel Bar – the world’s first organic peel bar concept. Impressive, yes? Absolutely! We chatted to Lily to see if any of her awesomeness would rub off on us…
Hi Lily! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have two daughters: Uli Seven is three years old and the younger one will be born in November, so any day now! My husband, David, and I run Kew Organics and Sugar K together.
Aww, congrats! Has this pregnancy (conceived through IVF) differed from your first?
Thank you for your well wishes! The IVF process went exceptionally well and my pregnancy has been the same as the first: I’ve been lucky not to have any nausea, vomiting, breakouts, sensitivity or whatsoever on my skin. And my energy level is at its prime; my friends and staff even commented I walked faster than them! I thank the government for lifting the recent ban [the Singapore government recently announced that, from 1 January 2020, it will remove its age limit of 45 years old for women undergoing IVF treatments]. Every woman should have the chance to fulfil their desire to be a mother, regardless of their age.
How has being a mum changed you as a person?
I find I’m more empathetic, patient and aware of the impact mothers have on their children. I’ve also become more aware of my behaviour and speech, especially when I know that my child is constantly observing and mimicking me! As a mum, I find myself championing organic living and the environment. We live in a world that’s so full of harsh, unknown chemicals that can potentially affect our bodies, skin and health in the long-term, that it’s even more imperative to spread the word about the benefits of sustainable, organic living.
Where did the idea for Kew Organics come from?
I went through adolescence and adulthood with skin plagued by acne and scars. To treat my skin problems, I made countless (and fruitless) trips to doctors and salons, where I was prescribed harsh products and ‘treatments’. But all the alcohol-based and chemical ingredients caused my skin to have more breakouts and become sensitive, dry and thin. I had to use lots of make-up to cover up my blemishes and scars, which affected my self-esteem so much.
At 29, I enrolled in beauty school, determined to find a lasting solution to my acne woes and regain my self-confidence. The transformation of my skin propelled me to start my own beauty business to help others plagued with skin problems. However, I found many customers were using conventional products laden with synthetics, chemicals and toxic ingredients. I knew their skin would be transformed with clean and organic skincare, so I plunged into research and launched my own line of water-based, high-performance organic skincare products: Kew Organics.
To date, we have more than 40 products to help deliver clear, clean and healthy skin. As a matter of fact, we’re well-known for helping customers to ditch their makeup as since there’s nothing on their skin for them to cover up!
As for salon care, which is just as essential, we incorporate organic skincare with non-invasive, cutting-edge beauty machines. Thanks to my training, I’m able to design all of our treatments accordingly to each individual’s skin needs – so you could say we offer bespoke organic facials. In addition, we have a wide selection of bespoke organic eye, neck and back treatments to target different skin issues as well.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up at around 5am to clear emails before my daughter wakes up at 8am. When she’s in school, I do my rounds at my shops, meet customers, staff and vendors, conduct meetings and also meet my partners for my other business. In the evenings, I cast aside my gadgets and work to spend time with my daughter. Although sometimes, once she’s gone to bed at 9pm, I’ll squeeze in some more work!
How do you achieve work-life balance? It must be hard running a business while looking after a small human (and growing another!).
The business is my passion. The satisfaction of being able to help clients regain self-esteem and self-confidence motivates me. I really enjoy what I do so, to me, it’s not work. I am so thankful and blessed to be able to turn my passion into my business. I’m also thankful for a good team of self-sufficient staff and my long-term PR partner, Smitten PR, to help me in my mission to educate consumers on the power of organic goodness on skin.
What three bits of advice would you give to other mums who want to start their own business?
A dream will just be a dream unless you take action. It’s not an easy road – entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted. So have determination; I tell myself failure is not an option. Secondly, self-discipline – you need to work around the clock at times and be good at managing stress. Finally, humility: embrace feedback. But the bottom line is if you want results you’ve never enjoyed before, you’ll need to engage in behaviours you’ve never done before.
And finally, what advice do you have for first-time-mums that you wish you had known?
Children are more resilient than we think they are. So be chill and enjoy motherhood!
Thanks for chatting, Lily!