"We have a very close-knit family so we have grown up doing everything together"
Accountant Jenny and chemical engineer Joyce Tse are sisters, but they are also entrepreneurs – they decided to mix up their talents and skills by starting their own brand of hair and beauty products, Velvette Organics. Just over a year old now, it offers 100% natural and organic oil blends for skin and hair both online and in stores across Canada (and also one in Hong Kong!).
Both sisters are involved in each stage of the creation process, ensuring that their exacting standards are met. Their journey began in 2016 as they embarked on a backpacking trip. With only a small backpack to fill with their belongings on the go, they became frustrated that skincare products available tended to come in high volumes and the active ingredients were of minimal quantity.
Simplifying things led to their joint eureka moment as they started to use natural plant oils in concentrated amounts. They noticed positive impacts on their skin and as a result discovered an “all-in-one solution” for skincare needs. In this exclusive interview, we learn more about the inspiring sisters and their creation, Velvette Organics.
Sisters and business partners. Tell us about how that works and what your earliest memories working together are.
We have a very close-knit family so we have grown up doing everything together. We have been each other’s closest confidante for the past 28 years – it is hard to imagine life without each other!
Even though everyone thinks we are twins due to our similar mannerisms, our personalities and interests are very different so we complement each other perfectly as a team.
At four and six years old, we came up with an itinerary for our family road trip to Vancouver Island for vacation. Our parents found creative ways to encourage us to be independent as little kids, from making household chores seem like a game, backyard science experiments, to helping plan and research activities for our yearly summer vacations!
Tell us about the brand and the journey you have had so far in building the business. What is the hardest thing you have faced so far?
Our company, Velvette Organics curates specialised blends of organic oils for face, body and hair that hydrate and provide maximum benefits without feeling sticky or greasy. Each of our products feature unique plant oil bases, all of which provides different benefits, textures and properties. Using plant oils as our moisturisers have changed our beauty routine forever!
For the first six months of our launch, we only had one product, our Premium Hair Oil. We felt that there would be less of a barrier to entry with a hair product, since people are reluctant to put on products from companies they are unfamiliar with on their skin. With the success of our Premium Hair Oil, we were confident to launch our facial oils lines and body oil! We currently now have eight products and we have received incredible feedback and support for them.
The most difficult thing is finding time to work on growing the business. We are still employed at our full-time jobs, so our schedules are over-extended and we always find ourselves working late into the night to get tasks done! While preparing for a large retail show, we stayed up until 3-5 am for a week to make the products for the show. In addition to this, we attempt to fulfill every aspect of our business by ourselves. Doing so forces us to learn a lot of new skills; while this is rewarding, it is also very time consuming.
Where do you want the business to be in 5 years’ time?
Currently we are working hard to grow and expand our business within North America, and we hope to become a global brand in five years’ time. As of May 2018, we have our products at 11 physical retail stores, also online and at various artisan markets across Canada!
It is wonderful to see more and more people becoming familiar with using plant oils as moisturisers – we hope to see more people adopt this in the next five years. It is possible too that we will expand our skincare collection to include more products, but we prefer to keep our offerings smaller so that we can focus on being the best in our category.
Tell us how you create your ideas and develop your business.
It all began in 2016 when we both took three months off from our day jobs, to embark on a backpacking adventure to South East Asia. While packing necessities for three months into a small backpack, we were frustrated to find that most skincare products came in high volumes and contained minimal active ingredients.
We created our own custom oil blends and were amazed that one tiny drop of product could moisturize just as effectively as one pump of cream, and our skin improved throughout the trip!
Our facial oil blends were an all-in-one solution for skincare, as our facial oils could replace traditional moisturisers, act as nutrient rich serums, create a smooth base as a makeup primer, an oil cleanser, or even be used as an overnight mask! We also have a hair oil and a body oil in our collection.
How do you share your roles or do you both do everything?
Joyce is a Professional Chemical Engineer, and Jenny is a Chartered Professional Accountant. With our backgrounds, we make the perfect team for Velvette Organics. Being the more technical of the two, Joyce develops the formulation, researches ingredients, designs the graphics, edits multi-media and builds the website. As an Accountant, Jenny takes care of the financial aspects, manages inventory, oversees production, operational efficiency and quality control.
There are many tasks that we work on together, such as marketing, social media, selling at markets, creating products, and more. There are always endless tasks and we always consult with each other on all key decisions. As of May 2018, all aspects of the company are still done between us two!
Most inspiring entrepreneurs?
Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. She took an unconventional idea with no support, and made it into a modern day essential. Her idea was rejected by every hosiery mill to which she pitched (except for one!). She patented her product with minimal legal assistance, and fought her way to arrange for a meeting with Neiman Marcus to show them her products. She had no experience at all, but with extreme perseverance and hard work she managed to turn Spanx into a billion-dollar empire.
Everything she said on her podcast about how she started her company struck a chord with us – like her, we are involved in every aspect of our company and we are learning as we go for every step of the way. We love how she maintains a humble and positive attitude despite having grown Spanx to become an immense success. We strive to be like her, to always keep hustling and to never stop chasing our dreams!
Favourite product from the line?
Joyce: My personal favourite is the Mature Skin Night Facial Oil! I have super dry skin, and this product keeps my face perfectly hydrated in the morning by the time I wake up. It leaves a creamy finish and is packed to the brim with anti-oxidants and features ingredients with amazing collagen and elastin increasing properties.
Jenny: My favourite is the Essential Body Oil. I have always disliked the step of moisturising my body because it took so much time, and so many pumps of lotion. With the body oil, it only takes several small pumps and it’s super easy to apply! Plus, I am in love with the smell of it and the soft, silky feeling it leaves.
Favourite story about each other?
We are together so much that it’s hard to pinpoint a favourite story. Most of our best memories involve each other! We hope to create more wonderful adventures and memories together in the years to come.
Photo credits: Velvette Organics