Innovative Malaysian male grooming brand Nateskin has added to its offerings with the launch of a face shaver and nose hair trimmer, producing a significant ‘buzz’ in the male grooming sector thanks to a strong commitment to design excellence and sustainability. Eager to learn more, we sat down with the company’s founder, Jared Chuah.
In this exclusive interview, Ong Chin Huat speaks exclusively with Jared Chuah, the company’s founder, to discover why he changed careers and entered the male grooming business and how his entrepreneurial journey has been thus far.
Luxurious Magazine: Could you tell us about Nateskin and how it came about?
Jared: My entrepreneurial journey began at an early age when my sister and I embarked on a venture to sell creatively crafted Harry Potter wands. The experience instilled in me the excitement and satisfaction of creating something unique and selling it to others.
Throughout my education, witnessing the accomplishments of others fuelled my belief that I, too, could achieve my dreams. This confidence in my abilities paved the way for the early stages of my career, including developing a book project that significantly impacted me. It served as a catalyst, keeping me open to the idea of starting my own business.
A pivotal moment occurred during a holiday trip when a statement from an advertisement sparked the inception of Nateskin. This statement left a lasting impression, prompting me to delve deeper into the context of manscaping and the taboos surrounding it.
Upon further research, I identified a significant opportunity—to provide a Malaysia-made alternative for personal grooming, prioritising safety and making the topic more comfortable to discuss in general settings.
My journey, from selling Harry Potter wands to founding Nateskin, reflects my passion for creativity, belief in pursuing dreams, and the ability to identify opportunities that align with societal needs. Nateskin, with its focus on safety and breaking taboos, stands as a testament to my commitment to making a positive impact through entrepreneurship.
LM: What were you doing before you started Nateskin?
Jared: I began my career in 2018 as an analyst at an investment firm in Melbourne, Australia. I was very fortunate to have landed a job in an industry that was deemed “impossible” to get in – especially for international students.
To give back to other international students wanting to get into the finance world, I self-published a book called “How To Get A Grad Job” in late 2019 – which I self-distributed and was available in physical copies on Amazon Australia.
Six months later, students were responding well to the book. At a certain point, my book’s earnings matched my day job salary. I found the marketing and selling of something I had created fascinating- to experience making my first dollar online.
In 2020, I wanted to hone my digital marketing skills, so I switched careers and took up a digital marketing job in a marketing agency called Email Experts. We were the top email marketing agency in Australia, servicing top E-Commerce companies like Thank You Water, Frank Green, and JB Hifi.
I was their first hire, and in my two+ years there, I helped my boss grow our team to a solid team of seven.
Many of our clients, homegrown Australian e-commerce brands, had young founders around the age of 27-30, and their brands were making millions in monthly revenue. I thought, “Hey, if they can do it, so can I”, which eventually led me to start Nateskin.
LM: Are you planning to expand Nateskin to other countries?
Jared: Absolutely, expanding Nateskin into other countries is a key goal for us in the future. We believe in the global potential of our products, and we want to make our Malaysia-made alternative for personal grooming accessible to a broader audience.
International expansion allows us to reach diverse markets, cater to different needs, and contribute to breaking taboos around grooming on a global scale. We are committed to ensuring that our products prioritise safety and make discussions about personal grooming more comfortable in various cultural settings.
Stay tuned for updates as we work towards bringing Nateskin to new countries and making a positive impact worldwide.
LM: Tell us about your recent collaboration with the NGO Biji-Biji Initiative.
Jared: We collaborated with the Biji-Biji Initiative, an environmentally focused social enterprise with the aim of transforming spaces into greener landscapes by incorporating hair into the environmental narrative via composting.
We had a take-over of Barber Bus, a barbershop inside a bus and invited men to use our Face Shaver on themselves. We collected all the hair trimmings and donated them to the Biji-Biji Initiative and the Taman Tun Dr. Ismail Edible Community Garden to be used as a component in creating compost for tree planting.
Research has found that human hair can contribute to the creation of nutrient-rich compost as hair contains slow-releasing nitrogen.
LM: Is there any reason you decide to go into the male grooming business?
Jared: Our journey is intricately woven with the cultural nuances of Malaysia, making our approach to personal grooming uniquely different from Western countries. In Malaysia, there is a stigma around the topic of men’s grooming; discussions about body odour and body hair are often hushed down or considered taboo.
Recognising this cultural context, we at Nateskin have made it our primary mission to challenge and break through these stereotypes. Our commitment extends beyond just selling products; it’s about normalising the conversation around personal grooming. Every aspect of our business, from marketing strategies to packaging and customer engagement, is designed with this mission in mind.
For instance, we inject humour into our packaging to lighten the conversation, making it more approachable and less intimidating. Our shave guide isn’t just a manual; it’s a tool aimed at helping individuals navigate through grooming practices comfortably.
By paying attention to the smallest details, we aim to create an inclusive space where discussions around personal grooming are not only accepted but celebrated. This holistic approach reflects our dedication to fostering a positive shift in perceptions, one funny package and shave guide at a time.
LM: Tell us more about your products and how they help men with their grooming.
Jared: I’m immensely proud of our products’ positive impact on our consumers, which is reflected in their testimonials and feedback. The testimonials often highlight the effectiveness of our grooming products and the unique approach we take in addressing taboo topics.
Customers consistently share how Nateskin has become a catalyst for more open conversations about traditionally taboo subjects. We’ve noticed a shift in the comfort level of our customers when discussing topics like body odour, body hair, and personal grooming.
The small comfort of talking about these once-taboo subjects is now becoming more prevalent, and this transformation is evident in the feedback we receive.
Seeing that Nateskin has played a daredevil role, challenging societal norms and acting as a fair advocate and educator is gratifying. We aimed not only to provide high-quality grooming products but also to initiate conversations and reduce the stigma surrounding self-grooming, particularly for men.
By doing so, we are creating a more inclusive space where men feel encouraged to converse, learn, and embrace self-grooming without the limitations of societal stereotypes.
Our commitment to breaking down these barriers extends beyond the products themselves; it’s about fostering a community that values open communication and embraces the importance of personal care for everyone.
The testimonials and the evolving discourse around taboo topics are a testament to the positive impact Nateskin has had on our customer’s lives and the broader conversation about self-grooming.
LM: What made you leave your regular job to embark on this entrepreneurship journey?
Jared: In the first year of running Nateskin, I was still working my Australian day job and running Nateskin at night. Being paid in Australian Dollars made it easier to operate and fund Nateskin, as I was mainly running it in Malaysia.
Still, it could have been smoother sailing. During the first year of business, I was essentially burning through my savings trying to keep Nateskin afloat. The business was bleeding cash, and I had to choose between giving up Nateskin or quitting my day job so I could give Nateskin 100% attention, love, and focus.
I thought to myself that a job would always be there, regardless of whether Nateskin works or not, but the opportunity to build something myself would be harder to come by as I got older and had more financial responsibilities. So, I took the leap. I quit my job in Australia, moved back to Malaysia, and doubled down on the business.
Losing a stable income was tough, so I moved back home with my parents to keep expenses low. Whatever sales Nateskin had, we used it to hire our first employee, and second, and third. Sometime in July of 2022, we hit a tipping point, and sales started to come in more and more.
Still, we were always cautious with our finances and reinvested every cent made back into stock and our employees, which further fueled the growth of Nateskin in 2023.
LM: What are the qualities that make a successful entrepreneur?
Resilience: Entrepreneurship is a journey filled with challenges, uncertainties, and setbacks. Successful entrepreneurs possess a high level of resilience, allowing them to bounce back from failures, learn from mistakes, and persist in the Face of adversity. The ability to navigate through tough times and maintain focus on long-term goals is crucial for success.
Adaptability: The business landscape is dynamic and ever-changing. Successful entrepreneurs are adaptable and can adjust their strategies in response to shifting market conditions, technological advancements, or unexpected challenges. The willingness to embrace change, pivot when necessary, and stay ahead of trends is a crucial quality in the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship.
Vision and Strategic Thinking: Successful entrepreneurs clearly envision what they want to achieve. They can see opportunities where others may not and have the ability to develop and execute strategic plans to reach their goals. Visionary thinking helps entrepreneurs set a direction for their ventures, make informed decisions, and stay focused on the bigger picture.
LM: What were the main challenges when you founded Nateskin?
Jared: Navigating through the challenges of the pandemic was a true test of our resilience at Nateskin. Physically unable to be on-site, we forged essential partnerships with a dedicated team and warehouse to keep the business operational.
Despite the hurdles, within a month of establishment, Nateskin achieved a remarkable 25K in sales, showcasing the demand for our unique approach to men’s grooming.
The journey wasn’t without sacrifices, as our co-founder, Jared, had to make the tough decision to quit his job and focus all efforts on our startup. Challenges persisted, with monthly revenues dropping by 10K at times, pushing us to the brink.
The decision to either give up or persevere led us to make significant sacrifices, including cutting costs and moving back into Jared’s childhood bedroom.
Determined to succeed, we embraced the hustle, adopting a salesman’s mentality and putting in the hours from 10 AM till midnight. Venturing into pop-up stores proved to be a valuable opportunity, allowing us to connect with customers and understand buyer psychology around our taboo product.
Reinvesting into the business was pivotal. Through strategic advertising and skill expansion, we witnessed a substantial increase in online orders, ranging from 10K to 40K a month. This success propelled us forward, allowing us to achieve our current milestone—a team of 10 skilled partners and employees contributing to a 10x growth in our business.
The journey from the brink of giving up to building a thriving team and business has been an incredible accomplishment for Nateskin. It underscores the power of perseverance, adaptability, and a deep commitment to our mission.
LM: What advice would you give budding entrepreneurs if they wish to launch a new product?
Jared: Launching a new product can be an exhilarating yet challenging endeavour. Here are some key pieces of advice for budding entrepreneurs looking to embark on this journey:
- Market Research is Key: Understand your target market thoroughly. Identify their needs, preferences, and pain points. This will help you tailor your product to meet specific demands.
- Unique Value Proposition (UVP): Clearly define what sets your product apart from others in the market. Highlight its unique features and benefits that make it compelling for your target audience.
- Prototype and Test: Create a prototype or minimum viable product (MVP) before a full-scale launch. Test it extensively to gather feedback and make necessary improvements based on user responses.
- Build a Strong Brand: Develop a cohesive and memorable brand identity. This includes a compelling brand story, a distinctive logo, and a consistent visual style. A strong brand can contribute significantly to the success of your product.
- Effective Marketing Strategy: Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes online and offline channels. Leverage social media, influencers, content marketing, and other tools to create awareness and generate interest.
- Customer Feedback Loop: Establish a mechanism for collecting and analysing customer feedback. Act on constructive criticism and use positive feedback to reinforce your marketing efforts.
- Adaptability and Flexibility: Be prepared to adapt based on market feedback. Flexibility is crucial in responding to changing trends, customer preferences, and unforeseen challenges.
- Networking and Collaboration: Build a network within your industry and seek collaborations. Partnerships with complementary businesses or influencers can enhance your product’s visibility and credibility.
- Patience and Persistence: Building a successful product takes time. Be patient, stay persistent, and learn from both successes and setbacks. Continuous improvement is vital to long-term success.
LM: Are there any new plans you have in the future which you can talk about?
Jared: I’m thrilled to share the exciting developments in our current scene, especially our recent expansion into Singapore in March. Nateskin’s journey has been a testament to our commitment to redefining men’s grooming, breaking through taboos and fostering open conversations.
Looking ahead, our vision extends beyond borders, and we are actively exploring opportunities to bring Nateskin to other countries, with a keen interest in markets like Australia and Indonesia. The response in Singapore has been promising, and we are determined to solidify our brand presence in Singapore and Australia by 2024.
To achieve this, we have strategic plans, including releasing and expanding our product line. We’re excited to introduce new offerings, such as the Nose Hair Trimmer and an AfterShave Range, featuring moisturisers and serums tailored for the southern regions. Additionally, we’re developing an Aftershave designed for the Face.
Our mission goes beyond just selling products; it’s about changing perceptions and normalising discussions around grooming. In line with this, we are actively engaging with the community, collaborating with influencers, and leveraging targeted marketing campaigns to boost our brand presence further.
We are committed to providing high-quality, Malaysia-made grooming alternatives and are excited about the prospect of Nateskin becoming a household name not only in Malaysia and Singapore but also in Australia and Indonesia in the near future. Stay tuned for more exciting updates on our journey!
For further information about Nateskin, please visit www.nateskin.com.my.