By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
A family crisis that brought a family business to its knees has opened an opportunity to stand up once again and move on in life. That is what happened to Mawy Sapuay’s family after they lost her brother to cancer.
With the help of her physical therapist mom, Gladys, who sold several of their spa outlets to pay for the hospital bills for her son, Mawy co-founded a beauty line business called Hello Gorgeous!
With a capitalization of only P30,000, the family now has a thriving beauty business that has caught the fancy not just of the millennials but across ages and market segments.
“What really pushed me to go into this business was my Mom. When my brother died of brain cancer, we were totally broke. My mom let go of several of her spa branches to pay for the bills. So, I wanted to do something that is uplifting,” says Mawy.
For someone, who loves make-up, a beauty business is one kind that is uplifting during that time of loss and emotional chapter in their lives.
Mawy’s beauty product line was previously marketed in 1998 under Skinline Essentials, which also operates a Day Spa that offers facial and body care treatments. It is the first and only specialty personal care concept of its kind in Hagonoy, Bulacan.
But the growing influence of the millennials has forced her to ride on this bandwagon. Thus, the rebranding to Hello Gorgeous in 2016. The new brand presents an active image of a young, hip and adventurous persona. It proved to be a wise move because the name Hello Gorgeous was successful enough in getting the attention not just of the younger generation, but across market segments.
Hello Gorgeous has now 70 products with 160 skus (stock keeping units) in a span of 3 years starting with spa essentials that expanded to a complete beauty line.
The company also mounted a marketing drive by employing brand beauty ambassadors who man company-owned stores.
With the help of websites, social media, and independent bazaars, Hello Gorgeous spread like a wild fire. In just a matter of months, Hello Gorgeous’ Facebook page already has 51,00 followers and 50,000 followers on Instagram.
After three years of hardwork in rebranding her beauty and skin care line, Mawy was able to haul in about P12 million in 2018 from P2 million during the previous two years. For this year, they expect earnings to reach P35 million.
“As we drafted our plans, we saw the potential of us earning P35 million this year, our third year as Hello Gorgeous brand,” says Mawy.
She said that sales from 5 franchisees and from their 5 stores in the malls plus the online-generated revenues from resellers will create the opportunity to realize this earnings target. Their 5 franchise stores are located in Cebu, Tuguegarao, Pampanga, SM Megamall and SM North Edsa.
Hello Gorgeous is also attracting resellers in Singapore. Some of the interested franchises are returning OFWs, startup entrepreneurs and just the pure beauty junkies.
This beauty business has already provided livelihood to women, some of them are full time housewife or mothers. Some students are also into selling Hello Gorgeous.
The brand continues to engage women on discussions about cosmetics and how to make money out of it.
As of end 2018, there are already 35 Hello Gorgeous resellers with more still in line as the brand gains popularity and builds a name in the beauty and cosmetics space.
While their products cater to a wider spectrum, they also try to provide very affordable entry level products. They have a basket of products worth P300-P500 only. They have P100 and P120 items, mostly lip color and tints.
The interest has been largely driven by the fact that Hello Gorgeous is not a hard sell. It has a catchy logo and fun packaging design that caught the local market. Foreign markets are easily attracted to Hello Gorgeous.
Mawy has also sought the help of the experts to expand her business through franchising. With the help of Francorp, the franchising authority in the country, Hello Gorgeous now offers a franchise of P750,000 complete with a kiosk inside the mall, all permits included. It also comes with a starting product inventory worth P100,000.
Mawy ensures that their franchises are top priorities by pushing sales toward their franchises. As a result, franchises contribute 70 percent of sales and 30 percent from online. Their online sales have been growing tremendously even if they are sold at a premium because of their millennial following in Lazada and Shopee.
“For us, franchisees come first. We continue to push their sales by introducing loyalty card, exclusive in-store products and special promotions,” says Mawy.
Based on the company’s five-year plan, it aims to establish 54 stores, including franchises, in 15 key cities in the country. Last year, Hello Gorgeous started in the US with at least two stores in New York and California.
In the near term, Mawy sees Hello Gorgeous having a mini beauty hub inside a store or mall for express facial and to allow customers a first-hand experience to feel the brand.
Hello Gorgeous is also going natural. They now turn to the use of more natural and organic ingredients by using natural colorants and scents as well as essential oils for their cosmetics, skincare products like moisturizers, soaps, lotions and shampoos.
“You might notice that some of our products have short shelf life and some easily catch molds, this is because we use natural ingredients. But as much as we want to be 100 percent natural, there is no cosmetic product that is purely natural and organic. Our products have as much as 30 percent synthetic ingredients,” says Mawy, a professional make-up artist who can very well double as Hello Gorgeous poster girl with her pretty face, bubbly personality, and sunny disposition.
But as much as possible, the brand uses locally-sourced ingredients like virgin coconut oil, active carbon and clay for skincare products and imported substances like minerals from Jeju Island, shea and cocoa butter and sea salt from the Dead Sea, among others.
“The essential oils are imported, some are from Australia,” says Mawy, who often attends beauty conventions overseas, including Korea, to keep up with new trends in beauty line business and new products. Their presence to these international beauty product expos has become important that they get invited to attend for free, including airfare and accommodation.
Mawy and her team also make it a point to attend beauty product conferences overseas because that is where they learn new trends and innovations.
With the popularity of Korean beauty products, Hello Gorgeous just cannot be left out in this craze. They launched a K beauty line because they have natural ingredients from Jeju Island of Korea.
As a company that uses a lot of plastic containers for its beauty products, Mawy said that Hello Gorgeous is also conscious of its environmental footprint. Thousands of tons of used plastic containers gathered under the ocean’s belly and water bodies.
To play its part, Mawy said that starting this year, the brand will stop using plastic packaging and start using paper and cardboard-based packaging for all their products.
It is important, she said, that Hello Gorgeous takes environment sustainability seriously as giving livelihood to most of its lady resellers is. Mawy has also devised an incentive program by buying back the empty containers of their products.
“Customers are encouraged to sell back to us the packaging of their purchases for P15 each. We’re actually buying back the packaging at a loss but never mind that, we want to establish sustainability in packaging,” says Mawy.
Interestingly, Mawy did not finish a college degree. She was enrolled in pharmacy and biochemistry but her love for make-up influenced her to pursue a degree in hair styling and make-up.
“It was tough for me pursuing my studies since I am married already,” says Mawy. But, her two years of pharmacy and two years of biochem have helped her understand the basics in formulating their products with the help of the company chemist.
The future looks very bright for this young entrepreneur. Mawy is US-bound to compete for the international franchising competition after bagging the top prize for her pitch at the NextGen, A New Generation in Franchising competition during the 27th Asia Franchise Philippines 2019, an annual event hosted by the Philippine Franchise Association (PFA).
A competitive person, Mawy was focused on winning the competition right from the very start.
“To be honest, I came to win. I told my Mom that I am going to win. I did my homework. I really prepared for this. And on top of that, I need this for my plan,” says Mawy, who is currently training with her mentors from PFA and Francorp, in preparation for her US competition sometime this 2nd quarter.
“Being here and winning this we think we can even scale up more,” adds Mawy, noting that they are also studying of putting up mini beauty hub for express facial.
Another very encouraging development is that Hello Gorgeous is currently working on a special collaboration with Sanrio of Hong Kong to carry one of its popular characters in a specially-designed packaging.
“We are truly excited that out of so many cosmetic brands, we were the preferred brand of Sanrio. It is really an honor for us to be recognized alongside Happy Skin and Sunnies Face, and other make-up brands known worldwide,” says Mawy.
There are other related businesses that come to mind. By end this year, Mawy is bent on launching its fragrance line. They are coming up with feminine wash and personal care. They are also thinking of branching out into home care like dishwashing liquid, hand soap and sanitizers, but that will be in the future.
Unlike other millennials, Mawy says she refrains her excitement from all the opportunities that are coming her way and her family to obstruct the long-term view. She cannot be drawn into unnecessary expenses.
Despite the growing business, Mawy has remained well-grounded. She still lives in Bulacan where she maintained a 300-square meter laboratory and production facility.
“As a millennial, I am always excited on all these opportunities but I have to slowdown and think about the impact on business. Millennials should not hurry so much because somehow they might regret, so I’ve to pace my action and look back if I am still on the right track,” says Mawy.