Surprise - Raffles City Singapore has a convention centre, a sprawling mall, luxury hotels, an office tower, MRT connectivity... and a rooftop garden. Spanning 10,000 square feet, the green sanctuary amidst the towering buildings is an urban farm is home to aloe vera, calendula, butterfly pea and more local herbs and plants.
A fearless woman breaking new ground and paving the way for young entrepreneurs, we speak to Spa Esprit Group's Founder and Chairman, Cynthia Chua, on her passions as we find out what the journey of innovation and invention means to her.
INSIDE: Farming, harvesting and formulating products isn’t easy and we understand your launch for Farm to Beauty was delayed due to a batch of contaminated calendula. Why did you choose this path instead of simpler and cheaper ways of creating your own products?
Cynthia: I have always had an interest in agriculture and loved creating new products. So when I had the opportunity to merge my two interests, with the help of Raffles City Singapore, we immediately leapt at it.
Typically Calendula can only be found in temperate climates, so I was extremely excited when the farmers from Edible Garden City told us that it was possible to grow Calendula in Singapore and we were able to harvest enough crops to distil and create 250 bottles of calendula cream.
Despite the challenges in growing Calendula, doing our distillation, we choose the harder path because I wanted to show that agriculture is possible in Singapore, with a little creative and clever use of space such as rooftops of shopping malls, we can create pockets of urban farming and more importantly harvest enough crops to be commercial at the same time.
"I have always had an interest in agriculture and loved creating new products. So when I had the opportunity to merge my two interest, with the help of Raffles City Singapore, we immediately leapt at it."
INSIDE: Before Strip, no one would openly wax lyrical about grooming. You successfully started a movement and you have kickstarted a "growing" culture with Farm to Beauty as well as Open Farm Community.
Breaking new ground is difficult - can you share some challenges you faced with your recent ventures and how you overcame them?
Cynthia: We've recently introduced TWO L(I)PS, a new range of luxury vulva care products, with Blackout, possibly the world's first infrared activated charcoal vulva mask.
When we first came up with the idea to create this product, the naysayers said no one is ever going to use it; that the concept is too out there, we had challenges finding the right manufacturer to create what we wanted, it was a real uphill battle. It took us close to 18 months of research and development, constant tweaking, redesigning and testing to get to where we are today.
It is never easy to pioneer a new concept; nothing works perfectly from the get-go, it's always simpler to let go and do what everyone else is doing, but where is the fun in that.
Our journey of innovation and invention is never-ending, and our mindset & culture must reflect this if we are to continue to break new ground.
At the end of the day, to overcome any challenge, you must have a vision of what you want to achieve and believe in it even when nobody else believes in you. Have the passion for working on it, the tenacity to keep going no matter how difficult it gets and the creativity to tweak and resolution.
INSIDE: It has been a little more than a year since the launch of Farm to Beauty. What's on your drawing board now, what can we look forward to?
Cynthia: Our current focus is on TWO L(I)PS, our range of luxury vulva care products. We are exploring the possibility of incorporating local herbs into the formulation to create a truly Made in Singapore product.
"At the end of the day, to overcome any challenge, you must have a vision of what you want to achieve and believe in it even when nobody else believes in you. Have the passion for working on it, the tenacity to keep going no matter how difficult it gets and the creativity to tweak and resolution."
INSIDE: Any plans to introduce local herbs or even Chinese medicinal herbs in your products? How about your own makeup line tailored for this tropical climate?
Cynthia: We are working with Edible Garden City to discover local herbs and plants for their medicinal properties, such as snakeweed and black face sergeant, our goal is to be able to incorporate local herbs and plants into our beauty products. We want to show people that they don't always have to look overseas for ideas, many interesting local florae can be used culinary or in beauty skin care products.
INSIDE: Which local brand or personality would you like to collaborate with? And why?
Cynthia: We have always love to collaborate with brands with a similar mindset: global ambition, blessed with imagination and most importantly, human.
We dream to create a range of products that are made with locally sourced and grown herbs and plants that are available globally one day.
"We want to show people that they don't always have to look overseas for ideas, many interesting local florae can be used culinary or in beauty skin care products."
If you're all about dewy skin and a flawless complexion, here are 8 simple Korean skincare tips for you.