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How Peachy Skin Bar’s founder Crystal Lee is helping eliminate the toxic judgement culture from the S’pore salon industry

“You are not too dark for an Indian!” “Wow, you are practically bald.” “You so fat ah, do slim treatment with us la, we got a package for you!” “Your skin so bad, you take a package with us, today last day of promotions.”

These are just some of the comments I can recall from my visit to salons and spas across Singapore in the past five years. In fact, there have been days when I have gone to a salon, spent hundreds of dollars to pamper myself and came back feeling worse about my skin, scalp and my entire being.

This is not a microscopic experience of a foreigner in Singapore. So many of my local friends have shared similar stories with me. Singapore salons and spas are infamous for hard selling and going to any extent to force customers to buy packages.

Crystal Lee identified this issue and decided to do something about it. Hence, Singapore’s first bespoke skin bar Peachy Skin Bar was born. In this interview, we talk to Crystal about her journey so far, inspirations and more.

TVM: How did Peachy Skin Bar come about? What are some of the biggest challenges and highlights of your journey so far?

Crystal: I grew up in a home salon since I was a child, so I think I’m more naturally inclined towards this industry. I started picking up the skills for facials really early on, occasionally helping my mum over the school holidays since my late teenage years. The hands-on experience was invaluable. My journey as an entrepreneur was as much a process of self-discovery and evolution as each iteration of Peachy Skin Bar took shape.

The journey began as most journeys do, at the lowest point of my life and I can credit a particular ranting session I had with my best friend as the moment the idea was conceived – one where we lamented some of the underhanded practices beauty salons were using. From hidden add-ons to pressuring sales tactics, many beauty customers have seen their relaxing retreat turn into a nightmare. When I realized customers – especially millennials – are shunning beauty salons because of unpleasant past experiences, or the stories they’ve heard from their friends, I just felt it was a pity. It’s ironic that an industry that’s all about wellness, can inflict such stressful experiences on its customers. I quickly realized there was a gap in the market.

There was a lack of reputable, affordable, and accessible salons in the market that focuses on delivering timely, high-quality facials that meet customer’s skincare needs and provided much-needed relaxation in every facial session. One thing led to another and the problem-solving fire in me was ignited. I decided to reimagine the whole facial experience and shake up the industry with a new concept.

Unlike conventional salon practices, our skin bar has no packages, no consultation rooms, and we only offer bespoke facials. If you love us, you can join us as a member to get bonuses, preferential rates, and discounts for all our treatments. With no restrictions and fully transparent pricing, customers can rest assured that they will get any treatment they need with no hidden costs.

I faced many challenges a start-up would face, but I think the biggest challenge of my journey would be the Covid19 pandemic. It is an external challenge that I have absolutely no control over, and it is very disruptive. The pandemic really lasted much longer than what many businesses are normally used to. For service-centric businesses like ours, there is no magic solution for us to continue earning money when we need to close. When customers cannot come to our shop to experience/consume our services, we are not able to pivot to “take away” either.

However, I think I had an exponential learning curve while running a start-up during a pandemic. This period while trying was also an opportunity for reflection and learning. It forced us to be more mindful as an entrepreneur to focus on things that are within our control and not get ahead of ourselves in projecting, planning, or over-investing. We need to practice lean management, be flexible, be agile, be resourceful while thinking of ways to keep costs as low as possible and aiming to earn a healthy revenue.

We were extremely glad to win the Daily Vanity Award for Best Bespoke Facial in our first year of opening and having a loyal customer base who are happy with our services gave us the confidence to carry on.

TVM: We understand that your esthetician mother is one of the main inspirations in your journey. Can you share more?

Crystal: My mother taught me how to emotionally connect with the customer through the art of conversation during service, being empathetic, and building a friendly community. Her home salon was a cosy environment and the customers felt genuinely cared for. It resulted in repeated business and long-lasting friendships between her clients and herself. Apart from teaching me the facial technical know-how at a young age, she has also shown me how sincere a service business can be. I incorporated this experience into my service ethos in Peachy Skin Bar.

TVM: How did the pandemic affect your business and how did you deal with it?

Crystal: Many businesses that have been operating for years were affected, so we felt the impact harder considering we are a young company that started operations only in September 2019. In the short -barely 2 years- period, we have experienced a complete standstill “Circuit Breaker” in 2020 and phase 2 Heightened Alert in 2021.

In normal times, it is already tough to manage a start-up, but the pandemic really adds another level of complexity for us. To make matter worse, a bulk of our revenue comes from facial services and when facials were classified as “mask off” activity, we basically had to stop 95% of our operations. We were devastated. We do not have a large array of “mask on” beauty services to continue operating or deep pockets like big spas. Our revenue also took a great hit with customers being warier of “mask off” services. History repeated like “déjà vu” when we see an acute drop in our revenue before phase 2 HA was announced, just like the period before the 2020 circuit breaker.

I will be lying if I said I did not feel upset, worried, or anxious throughout this entrepreneurial journey. But instead of beating myself down on external factors that I have no control over, I recollected my emotions and devoted my time and energy to improve and grow Peachy Skin Bar.

I am incredibly happy that in the midst of this challenging period, we could still open our second outlet at Seletar Mall, provide new service offerings, and improve our business ecosystem. Recently, we have started working on developing our retail product line. We celebrate every achievement because I believe that it does not matter if we took a big or small step, as long as it is forward.

TVM: How Peachy Skin Bar’s unique concept is changing the narrative with a modern twist on feel-good treatment and no judgement policies, and why is it important?

Crystal: People have been complaining about expensive packages, pushy sales, and decline in service standards in the industry for the longest time.

You’d expect that with technology transforming the way we do business there’d be a customer-led change, but it seems to have gotten worse, with the development of various apps and platforms that lure customers in with ridiculously low prices and hard-selling them once they walk in the door. It’s amazing that while skincare technology has come on leaps and bounds, the business practices still seem mired in the 1980s.

Frustrated with these problems, I decided to reinvent the facial experience. I hope Peachy Skin Bar’s business model, which emphasizes flexibility and accessibility, resonates well with the modern consumer and convinces them to re-evaluate the industry’s reputation.

Some of our unique concepts are

  •  dreamy pink interior with soft jazz music instead of the usual intimidating marble or dark wood spa design,
  • no packages policy but focus on rewarding our loyal customers with membership perks and discounts at The Peachy Club,
  • therapists are not allowed to pass hurtful negative remarks on customers skin conditions in the bid to use scare tactics to get sales and
  • providing only customized facial based on your skin needs rather than mindlessly doing the same facial for you just because you are stuck with the conventional restrictive salon packages.

These can be summed up by our slogan “Feel Good Skin”. It is a movement towards building a more positive beauty environment for all to enjoy. It is especially relevant in today’s context where mental health issues are coming to the forefront of discussions.

TVM: As a new mom who is dealing with a dozen postpartum issues, for me, a Peachy Skin Bar visit is more than just a beauty appointment – it is about self-care, feeling good about my body/face and taking some me-time for myself.

Many women today undergo depression and feel the need to take this time away from themselves. What would you say to them? Why should Peachy Skin Bar be their go-to self-care/self-love station in Singapore?

Crystal: I have previously gone through a really low period in my life where I was feeling depressed and anxious. While I recognize that everybody’s journey is different, what helped me was acknowledging and giving myself the freedom to heal. I took baby steps and engaged in activities that sparked joy. I.e I started going for facial sessions to enjoy some peaceful me-time while chatting and interacting with my facial therapist. It was therapeutic and it kickstarted a virtual cycle of positivity – reinforcing that I deserve the self-care and me-time that I invested in myself.

So, I hope that Peachy Skin Bar will provide such comfort to all the busy women who need an all-inclusive, safe, and judgement-free beauty environment for their well-deserved TLC.

TVM: What is your go-to recommended Peach Skin Bar treatment for days when we need some pampering and self-care?

Crystal: It will be our Peachy’s Omakase Facial. Many of us would have probably heard of the term Omakase in Japanese restaurants but it is not commonly used in the skincare industry. “Omakase” comes from the Japanese verb “makasu”, which means to trust and leave it to the expert to make the decision. Peachy Skin Bar’s Signature facial similarly uses these principles and has become a hot favourite – often picked by beauty editors, celebrities, and customers.

Hailed as the “Queen of All Bespoke Facials”, customers just have to rest and leave the decisions to our expert therapists. Ditch the dilemma of selecting the best treatment for yourself – in fact, Peachy’s unique concept is to provide you with bespoke treatments for your skin every visit.

The luxurious Omakase is a 70-min indulgent treatment that caters to your skin needs through the custom blending of products containing pro-medical actives, and careful selection of any of our medical-grade aesthetic equipment to treat your skin concerns. With no hidden costs or upgrades, you have access to everything you need to ensure your skin is well taken care of. It’s also jam-packed with massages to help you relax.

What sets Omakase apart is our high-level craftsmanship and the freedom to use any equipment if it’s recommended and suitable for your skin – just like a buffet!

To add some sparkle to this sweet deal, we also use an ultra-luxe silk mask infused with crystal gel as your face massage medium. No packages and a beauty experience that is designed just for you, what better way to relax and have a feel-good time?

TVM: Where do you see Peachy Skin Bar in the next five years?

Crystal: In the next five years, I want more customers to enjoy the changes I bring across in the local beauty scene through Peachy Skin Bar. I also wish we will grow in strength by having more outlets, increase our beauty service offerings, and develop an extensive retail product line.

TVM: As a young woman entrepreneur, your journey is an inspiration. What message would you give to young female readers of The Vent Machine that aspire to be entrepreneurs too?

Crystal: Building a business can be exhausting. It is not all glitz and glam like TV shows. Like Richard Branson mentioned “There will be lots of downs. Do your best to fight tooth and nail to survive.”

Being an entrepreneur can be emotional, mentally, and physically stressful as you perpetually need to face new challenges and live with a lot of uncertainties. You may feel your peers are ahead of you and sometimes entertain the thought of going back to a 9-5 job. But do not give up and keep pushing forward. Dig deep within yourself to remember why you started your business in the first place.

Nothing lasts forever, not even problems. To me my employees are my second family, my customers are my greatest supporters, and my business is my passion. As long as I have tried my best, no matter the outcome, this journey and all the obstacles will be worth it.

Check out my review of Peachy Skin Bar’s MESO skin facial treatment here.

Enjoy these ongoing promotions at Peachy Skin Bar:

Facial: Instead of the usual one-time trial, new customers can enjoy our Omakase Facial trial twice with our <Omakase2> bundle at $180. Not everyone can decide immediately, and it is normal for customers to want to see their facial results and skin reaction after treatment. So, we came up with this promotion to give customers the chance to fully experience our services with no stress. If they like us, they can join our Peachy Club for membership perks such as 50% off all facials, bonuses, rewards and a world of privileges.

SHR: New customers can also enjoy 1 session of SHR hair removal + Whitening at any one body part for $50.

Other services: New customers can check for other beauty services trial prices at www.peachyskinbar.com

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