How Handmade Heroes is carving a niche with natural skincare products
It has since grown its staff tenfold and expanded its working space by 25 times.
Singaporeans are increasingly seeking out products made with environmental sustainability in mind: according to a study by Nielsen, nearly four in five are willing to pay premium prices for products that contain environmentally friendly or sustainable materials. With that, businesses have eagerly grabbed the opportunity to cater to the demands of conscious consumers with a wide range of green products.
Amongst these businesses is Handmade Heroes, which started offering natural skincare products in 2015 aiming to address a lack of beauty and wellness products that were both fully natural and at an affordable price. Its products, ranging from lip balms to body scrubs, are all made by hand in small batches.
In an interview with Retail Asia, Handmade Heroes founder Lynsey Lim shared about the company’s process of producing their products, and how e-commerce has helped boost its sales by as much as 160% and even tide over recent market uncertainties.
1. Do share with us the products that you offer. Which of them are your bestsellers?
Handmade Heroes offers a variety of natural skincare products—from lip balms and shampoo to face masks and hand sanitisers—that are vegan, paraben-free, cruelty-free, and halal-certified. Launched in 2015 in Singapore, Handmade Heroes aims to make chemical-free, quality, everyday skincare accessible at affordable prices.
Our Cocolicious Luscious Lip Scrub is Amazon’s best-selling lip scrub and we’ve been Amazon’s top-selling natural skincare brand since 2016. Some of our best sellers include No-no Nasties Sanitiser, made with ethyl alcohol derived from sugar cane sans any chemicals and artificial fragrances; Butt Kickin' Deep Detoxing coffee scrub to stimulate circulation and exfoliation while improving skin appearance; and Natural Baby Kit, a nourishing baby care product quintessential for every natural mama and baby.
2. What inspired the name of your brand, “Handmade Heroes”? What motivated you to launch a business offering natural, handmade beauty products?
I’ve always been very conscious of what goes on my skin and interested in natural skincare. When I first started looking for organic beauty and wellness products, either the brands were not fully natural or were too expensive and not within easy order. This pushed me to create my own concoctions of balms and creams.
Handmade Heroes started out for and continues to cater to the niche segment of consumers who prefer handmade skincare solutions. All our products are made in small batches and handcrafted with great care. As we were determined to maintain this concept, we settled on the name Handmade Heroes.
3. What is your edge over other beauty products?
Our whole process, from start to finish, is in-house—from research and development (R&D) to manufacturing to quality control. This has allowed us to ensure high quality of our products across categories.
In addition, with our small batch manufacturing, we are able to react and improve our products quickly based on our customers’ reviews and feedback. We take each product review very seriously and use it to evaluate, improve and refine our products constantly. We believe that, as a manufacturer, open communication with the customers is key to developing great products.
4. You saw a 160% average annual increase in sales since selling on Amazon and even expanded internationally, how were you able to achieve this? What strategies did you deploy?
Being listed on Amazon’s marketplace helped us to achieve high growth. Amazon opened new markets to us, including the US, UK and Germany, and allowed us to scale our business. As such, we have been leveraging Amazon’s fulfilment services to deliver across the world. Prior to listing on Amazon, we were only selling in the local Singapore market.
In our early days, fulfilment was one of our biggest challenges, especially as we blend the formulas by hand and spend hours making the products in small batches. Amazon has allowed us to manage the tedious operations so we can focus on evolving customer preferences and feedback, innovation and expansion to ensure competitive prices while reaching customers globally.
Currently, more than 80% of our sales comes from Amazon and we have since grown from a two-person team to a 20-member company, with an increase in working space and facilities by 25 times from when we first started.
5. What initiatives have you launched in the past 12 months?
We just received our halal certification this year. It’s an exciting development as it will allow us to tap into more growing markets, including Indonesia and the Middle East.
Securing the halal certification was a challenging process as the standards to fulfil are very high. For starters, we need to ensure that all of our ingredients are halal-certified, and our processes abide by the strict requirements.
That said, we are driven to overcome the challenges to cater to the needs of our Muslim customers and reach them in their home markets, such as Indonesia.
6. Could you walk us through how you were able to maintain an affordable pricing range whilst keeping it environmentally and skin friendly?
Keeping our products affordable has always been a key focus for us. I created Handmade Heroes with the purpose of making natural quality skin care accessible to everyone. With that in mind, we are able to maintain relatively low price points as all of our design, R&D and manufacturing processes are performed and managed in-house. This has also allowed us full control over the quality of our products.
7. Given the current uncertainties in Singapore, how is your business coping? What measures have you implemented for your concerned buyers?
We have noticed a slower traction in our retail sales since the COVID-19 outbreak. Fortunately, having an online presence and selling on Amazon allows us to reach customers as they shop from the safety and comfort of their homes.
Internally, we have also enabled our employees to work from home as much as possible and have temporarily closed our production facility since 20 March.
Additionally, Amazon Singapore is offering all small and medium businesses a monthly subscription seller fee waiver from now till the end of the year, which has been very helpful in reducing our costs.
8. Can you reveal any future plans you have Handmade Heroes?
We have been investing heavily into specialised equipment that can expand our capabilities and allow us to create new products with amazing textures, consistencies and functions. Please stay tuned as we have a range of exciting new products to launch in the pipeline.