Women Who Lead: Celine Chan (Founder of My Cozy Room Beauty Spa) - Exclusive Interview by Value Champion

Women Who Lead: Celine Chan (Founder of My Cozy Room Beauty Spa) – Exclusive Interview by Value Champion

In celebration of Mother’s Day this year, we are thrilled to share an exclusive interview with our founder, Celine Chan, featured in Value Champion, a renowned personal finance lifestyle publication in Singapore. Celine opens up about her inspiring journey, transforming My Cozy Room from a modest, little-known beauty spa into one of Singapore’s best extraction facials on the island. The interview goes beyond her professional achievements, offering a heartfelt glimpse into her personal life, revealing how she gracefully juggles motherhood and her thriving business, and manages her finances to nurture both her family and her enterprise. We are super excited to repost their captivating article in its entirety on our blog. Happy reading!

This article first appeared on ValueChampion (part of AMTD PolicyPal).

Women Who Lead: Celine Chan (Founder of My Cozy Room Beauty Spa)

by Joyce Chua on May 3, 2024

Female entrepreneur Celine Chan, who believes in embracing challenges with an open mind and a kind heart, shares her tips on personal finance as well as juggling business and family.

As a mother of a young son and business-owner, founder of My Cozy Room Beauty Spa Celine Chan describes juggling motherhood and entrepreneurship as “tending to two kids … not always easy, but incredibly rewarding”.

She founded My Cozy Room Beauty Spa in 2010 upon reaching the milestone age of 30, finally answering her calling to embark on her entrepreneurial journey together with her business partner.

As an avid spa-goer since young, Celine also has a strong interest in the beauty industry, which led her towards the industry she knew so well as a customer to open her own boutique spa.

Over the years, her continuous efforts have been recognised by the industry—Celine was also voted one of the 100 Most Loved Beauty Professionals in 2011 awarded by CozyCot, one of CozyCot’s Inspiring Young Women in 2012 and first runner-up of Miss Dreamgirl 2013. 

We speak to Celine to understand her philosophy on money, motherhood, and running a business.

1. What was the idea behind your business and where does it stand now?

The concept behind My Cozy Room Beauty Spa is “Life Is Beautiful”. We wanted to create a cosy and safe place where people could relax and recharge. Instead of a typical commercialised spa, we wanted it to feel more personal, like visiting a friend who also happens to be an expert in skincare. 

My business stems from my personal experience. It all began with my own struggles with acne since my teenage days. I have sought out many different ways to treat my skin and in the process of searching for solutions, I have encountered many negative experiences that were painful physically, mentally and psychologically, especially during the extraction process. Sometimes, my face would swell up so much that I couldn’t even lift my head. Once, a beautician said I looked like a pig’s head because my face was so swollen. This had an impact on my self-esteem. From that moment, I aspired to open my own beauty salon one day, where people wouldn’t feel bad about themselves. I wanted to give gentle and comforting treatments and encourage people instead of making them feel worse. That’s why My Cozy Room strives to offer the best pore extraction facial in Singapore.  

I want My Cozy Room to be a place where we can adopt the best industry practices and ditch the poor ones, a place where people feel welcomed and cared for. We want to make facials as enjoyable as possible and thus incorporate pampering experiences such as the Crystal Eye Massage and Hot Stone Treatment into our facials. Instead of relying on machines and gadgets that may not necessarily produce results, I still like to preserve the art of manual extractions for a more personalised and tender approach to clients with very sensitive skin and low pain threshold. 

For every customer that we managed to satisfy, our business grew steadily through the power of word of mouth. They left lots of positive reviews on Google and shared their experiences with the media. Thanks to their support, we’ve earned the title as one of the best facials, as well as that of the best extraction facial in Singapore, recognitions that we have consistently garnered ever since My Cozy Room Beauty Spa was established.

2. What was the biggest challenge for you when you first started your business?

Sustaining the business financially was our biggest challenge when I first started my business. 

When we first entered the spa industry, we faced a significant challenge due to the closure of several major chain spas. This created a sense of uncertainty among potential customers, who were sceptical to sign on any packages, fearing that spas and beauty salons would just come and go. It was exceptionally more challenging for us to gain trust as a new player in the market, especially in such a competitive industry where reputation is paramount.  

On top of that, starting a spa business in the competitive Red Sea area was really tough. Everyone was trying to be the best by cutting prices and doing lots of marketing. We were newbies, and we didn’t stand a chance against businesses that had been around for a long time. To attract customers, we needed to do marketing, but we didn’t have much resources or budget for that, particularly in those days when there were no social media platforms to tap on.

It became a problem because we needed customers to sustain our business, but we couldn’t afford to get them in the door. Plus, our operational costs were high, and we didn’t have enough customers to cover them. This meant we struggled to keep the business going.

On top of all that, our staff, who are experienced therapists able to perform high-quality treatments, depended on making sales to earn money. When we didn’t have many customers, they didn’t make much either, so they would leave for greener pastures. It felt like a vicious cycle and we were constantly taking money out from our own pockets just to keep the business running.

Eventually, our “customers first” mindset and determination to provide quality service paid off. Our customers began to see our value and dedication in ensuring that we consistently give them the best extraction treatment and service. We have to thank our loyal and supportive customers who trusted in us back then and got us to where we are today.

3. How did you overcome obstacles along the way?

I’ve learnt to approach my hurdles with a deeply ingrained mindset of ‘observe merits, appreciate kindness’.

For me, every obstacle is an opportunity for growth and learning. Instead of being discouraged by setbacks, I’ve trained myself to observe the merits in every situation and appreciate the kindness inherent in challenges. This perspective shift has been instrumental in helping me navigate through tough times.

Also, I focus on gratitude and appreciation. Whether it’s expressing gratitude to our loyal customers for their unwavering support, acknowledging the hard work of our dedicated staff, or recognising the invaluable contributions of our stakeholders, gratitude has been a guiding principle for me in overcoming obstacles.

Moreover, I’ve learned to see obstacles not as roadblocks, but as stepping stones towards success. By embracing each challenge with an open mind and a kind heart, I’ve been able to extract valuable lessons and insights that have propelled me forward.

We have made a consistent effort to build trust with customers, and that trust starts from integrity. We believe that every customer who comes to our spa helps us stay in business by paying for our services. Thus, we owe it to them to give them an experience that is nothing short of the best and most enjoyable.

We started small, taking care of each customer with sincerity and kindness. We made sure to give them our full attention during their treatments, so they would leave feeling better than when they came in. Our goal was to make them want to come back again and again. We want our customers to feel like they got their money’s worth. We’re also grateful for the support of our friends and family who believed in us from the beginning. Their encouragement kept us going, even when things got tough.

I always believe that planting the right seeds—be it goals, relationships, or opportunities—and providing them with the right conditions—such as dedication, hard work, and positivity—will bear fruit someday. Nurturing these seeds involves ongoing care, learning from setbacks, and staying resilient in the face of challenges. While the fruits of my labour may not always appear immediately, my dedication and perseverance will eventually yield results.

4. What do you love about your job?

What I love most is the opportunity to create a space where people can truly feel good. Seeing the smiles and newfound confidence on my customers’ faces as their problematic and acne-ridden skin become radiant and flawless is incredibly rewarding. Making people feel good, both inside and out, is at the heart of what I do, and it’s what keeps me passionate about my work every day.

In a world where many beauty salons are turning to technology and aesthetics, I’ve chosen to preserve the art of manual extractions. I’ve hired staff who share my belief that these skills are invaluable and should be treasured. Many spas have moved towards using machines in their treatments, but I refuse to let this traditional practice fade away. I see it as a legacy of My Cozy Room, something that takes years of experience to master and should never be wasted.

Beyond just running a business, I see My Cozy Room as a place to spread kindness and good karma. By making people feel good about themselves, we’re creating positive connections and leaving a lasting impact on everyone who walks through our doors. It’s a place where kindness and good energy abound, both for our customers and for my dedicated staff.

In essence, what I love about my job is the ability to make a difference in people’s lives, one treatment at a time.

5. As a mother of a young son, how do you balance motherhood and your business?

Balancing motherhood and running a business is not an easy feat. I see my business as my very own “child”, one that I’ve nurtured from the very beginning. So, finding harmony between motherhood and entrepreneurship is like tending to two kids—it’s not always easy, but incredibly rewarding.

When my son was born, my business was still in its early stages, and I was the primary person responsible for running it. My days were long, often stretching into evenings and weekends. I even worked remotely during my shortened two months of maternity leave.

Having a helper eased some of the burden, but I realised that my son was growing up feeling closer to her than to me. It was a wake-up call. I knew I needed to prioritise my time with him.

So, after our last helper left us, I decided not to hire another one. I committed to being more present in my son’s life. I carved out time for bedtime stories, daily chats, and quality time together. Understanding his thoughts and feelings became a priority.

I also sought support from other parents by attending parental lessons. Learning from their experiences and sharing our struggles helped me navigate the challenges of parenting and apply new strategies with my son.

Balancing motherhood and business is definitely not always an easy journey. I’m grateful to be on it, even though there are moments when I feel overwhelmed and frustrated. That’s why I’ve found it crucial to seek support and guidance, both through parental lessons and from my family, especially my spouse. Learning how to be a good parent and having the support of loved ones has been invaluable in navigating the challenges and finding moments of joy and fulfilment along the way.

6. How do you manage your finances as a business-owner?

As someone who isn’t a finance expert, I rely on simple logic to manage my business’s finances. To me, managing finances is about increasing revenue and controlling costs. I prioritise activities that boost revenue, whether it’s through marketing, sales initiatives, or expanding product offerings. Simultaneously, I keep a close eye on expenses, trimming unnecessary costs and optimising spending to maximise profitability. This helps keep my business financially stable and sustainable. 

Maintaining healthy cash flow is also vital, especially during uncertain times like the COVID-19 pandemic. I ensure that my business has enough liquidity to cover operational expenses, pay employees, and weather any unexpected challenges. 

That’s why when it comes to expanding my business, I take a cautious approach. I understand that expansion brings greater risk and challenges, such as maintaining quality control. So, I prioritise careful planning and consider the potential risks and benefits before making any decisions about growth.

I try to apply these principles and adapt my approach as my business evolves.

7. What’s a milestone your business has crossed that you are proudest of?

One of the biggest milestones for My Cozy Room Beauty Spa I’m proudest of is the journey from being totally unknown in the beauty industry more than a decade ago to being recognised and celebrated for our excellence. Being acknowledged as the provider of the best extraction facial and best facial in Singapore, and receiving prestigious awards such as the World Luxury Awards, is a testament to the dedication and hard work of everyone involved in our business.

It’s a milestone that fills us with pride and gratitude, and it inspires us to push boundaries and set even higher standards for ourselves in the future.

There are tens of thousands of small and big beauty providers in Singapore—to be able to stay on the top is not easy. Hence, I am really proud that our determination, core values, innovation and business ethics have yielded rewards and industry recognition.

On top of that we are proud of the milestone we’ve achieved with the launch of our very own skincare line, Bekind, which we developed during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bekind isn’t just a skincare line; it’s a testament to our commitment to kindness, both to the skin and to our customers.

I wanted to offer a holistic skincare solution that is not only effective but also gentle and  free from harsh ingredients and chemicals for our customers’ types of problematic skin. Other than experiencing the efficacy of the professional products during the facial treatment, they can also take care of their skin with the right products in the comfort of their homes.

Within just a few years of launching Bekind, we’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our customers. It’s incredibly gratifying to see the positive impact our products have had on our customers’ skin health and confidence.

One of our proudest moments came when we received recognition from Beauty Insider, which further validated the dedication and effort we’ve put into crafting each product. It’s a testament to the effectiveness and quality of Bekind.

Moving forward, we’re excited to continue our journey of kindness to the skin and to our customers, always striving to innovate and improve. Our mission keeps us grounded: to help people feel good in their skin, one gentle and effective product at a time.

8. What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring business-owners and entrepreneurs?

My advice to fellow business-owners and entrepreneurs is to challenge the misconception that being a boss means earning the most money and doing the least work. In reality, starting a business often means investing the most money, putting in the most effort, and possibly earning the least, especially in the beginning.

As a startup, being a boss requires grit and determination to weather the challenges. You may find yourself investing your own money, working long hours, and facing setbacks. It’s a tough journey, but it’s often the path most bosses have to take.

You also need to be prepared for loneliness and the feeling of being misunderstood. Your staff may not always see the sacrifices you make, and you may even face criticism or negativity. However, staying focused on your vision and remaining resilient is key.

Furthermore, being a humble giver is essential. Remember that your role is to serve both your customers and your staff. Don’t expect your staff to serve you; instead, focus on serving them and your customers with humility and dedication. 

Ultimately, being a well-deserving boss goes beyond financial success; it’s about making a positive impact on the lives of those you work with and serve.

Stand firm in what you believe in, and never cave in to market pressure or competition and lose your unique selling point (USP) once you have found it. 

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Focus on mastering your craft and serving your niche exceptionally well. It’s like building a sturdy foundation for your startup. Once you’ve established yourself and gained confidence, then you can think about expanding. But always stay true to your strengths and capabilities. Grow steadily and sustainably, like a tree spreading its roots before reaching for the sky. That’s the path to lasting success!

9. How do you manage your personal finances?

I manage my personal finances in a way that aligns with my values and priorities. While I don’t adhere strictly to a specific rule like the 50-30-20 rule, I focus on minimising unnecessary expenses and prioritising saving and investing for the future.

I’m not one to splurge on fancy meals or luxury items. Instead, I prefer to use my money in ways that can make a positive impact, such as helping those in need, supporting causes that are important to me, or investing in my well-being and personal development. I also prioritise minimising debt and avoid taking loans when necessary.

As a business-owner, I understand the importance of cash flow and financial stability. I tend to lean towards conservative investments that offer some level of protection for my principal, such as principal-protecting products and T-bills. I don’t pursue high-risk, short-term speculations, and would rather focus on building a solid financial foundation that provides stability and security for myself and my business.

10. What is one personal finance lesson you have learned?

One lesson I’ve learned is the importance of taking ownership and responsibility for my financial well-being. In the past, my business partner handled the company’s finances, but when he passed away, I had to step in and take over. This experience taught me that financial literacy is essential, regardless of whether there is someone else managing the finances.

I realised that it’s crucial to be actively involved in financial decisions, understanding the ins and outs of income, expenses, investments, and savings. By taking the time to educate myself and stay informed about personal and business finances, I can make more informed decisions and better plan for the future. Ultimately, I’ve learned that financial responsibility is a personal duty that cannot be outsourced or overlooked.

We hope you enjoyed reading about our journey and we are also excited to welcome you to visit My Cozy Room soon! Over at My Cozy Room, we have a range of facial treatments to suit every skin type, conditions and needs, and have curated them such that they give you the most refreshing and rejuvenating experience possible. To book your facial with us, drop us a Whatsapp message at 8666 0030.

About Value Champion

ValueChampion is a team of expert research analysts, striving to help consumers find the best financial products and services for their needs. Our mission is to provide clarity on all of life’s financial decisions. We create guides and tools to make it easy to achieve financial freedom, choose the best financial products and services (credit cards, loans, insurance policies and investment platforms) and tackle major life goals, like buying a house and saving for retirement.