Childhood friendships shape who we are and we often create strong bonds that carry us into the adult world, confident that these buddies will always have our back. This was definitely the case for Quinnie Chong and Michelle Tan, who are self-professed childhood partners in crime. “We have known each other since we were nine. We used to cycle around the neighbourhood plucking flowers to make perfumes,” says Chong. Their antics helped develop a lifelong friendship and, as they got older, the idea to start a business together blossomed.
The pair developed their entrepreneurial plans inspired by the nature of Chong’s family business. “My family is in the skincare manufacturing industry so it is not unfamiliar territory for me. During weekends, I spent time in my dad’s office making soap. In college, Michelle and I decided to make something of our own,” she says.
They put their idea aside while pursuing their degrees in economics. After graduation they both worked in the financial sector but, on the side, developed a plan to make their business dreams come true. “In the time that I was in banking, Quinnie was at her family business and she did a lot on the research and development side of things,” says Tan. Chong adds, “That was part of the plan because we wanted one of us to be familiar with the things that we would be doing.”
Their brand — By Eggs — launched its first product, a gelato clay mask, in November 2017. “We like the idea of shopping for grocery store products, but they are really for your skin. Imagine buying things like dairy goods for your face or a juice that you can spray on your skin,” says Tan. All the skin food is inspired by real food, so the company’s products are almost good enough to eat. By Eggs’ current best-seller is the watermelon skincare set, which includes a milk cleanser that comes in a milk carton, a spreadable soothing moisturiser with calamine and vitamin E and a boost face toner that won an award for best toner for sensitive skin from Cleo’s Beauty Hall of Fame earlier this year.
All By Eggs’ products use natural ingredients, free of unnecessary chemicals. “We use essential oils and natural clay. For example, our tiramisu deep cleansing clay mask uses coffee bits for the exfoliating effect and bentonite clay for its deep cleansing benefits. The whole idea is that it looks like coffee, which is very invigorating, and smells like it too, but it also deep cleanses your pores. For the watermelon sorbet, we use walnut granules as the scrub and vitamin E and calamine powder for the soothing effect,” says Tan.
Chong handles the product development and supply chain, while Tan takes on marketing and distribution. Although well suited to and experienced in their roles, one of their main difficulties was convincing people to trust the brand. After launching its website, they went to bazaars and set up pop-ups to allow customers to sample their goods. People were quickly convinced of the benefits of By Eggs’ skincare, so much so they began making requests of their own, which comes in handy when Tan and Chong are stuck for ideas. “We do get a lot of feedback from customers and we are trying to fulfil what they want. When they make a request, it is not like we can formulate it straight away. It takes some time and effort to deliver what they want,” Tan says. Other than online, By Eggs is also available at Robinsons Four Seasons in Kuala Lumpur and Mori Zakka Boutique at Sunway Pyramid, Bandar Sunway, Selangor.
While mostly a two-woman show, By Eggs recently hired a marketing assistant, and as they share facilities at a manufacturing plant, they sometimes get help from the administrative staff. The shared facility has an additional benefit — it is GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified, so all products are registered with the pharmaceutical body of Malaysia.
By Eggs plans to introduce new skin-friendly, food-themed products, including a long-awaited serum that should be released soon. The company also hopes to expand the business internationally, as it has received enquiries from Indonesia and Cambodia. By Eggs is also working towards creating environment-friendly packaging but, for now, it has released videos on how to reuse containers.
This article first appeared on Dec 9, 2019 in The Edge Malaysia.