Kelvin Tan created Lip & Co. to be more than just a beauty brand. He wanted his company to carry a message behind it.
In a previous interview, Kelvin described Lip & Co. as “where colour meets skincare”. Skincare ingredients are infused into beauty products where possible, while also keeping them strictly cruelty-free and vegetarian-friendly.
Kindness, empathy, and cruelty-free fell into place as some of the values matching up to his idea for a business model.
“That is the nucleus for our company, the ethos. If I do any business at all, it must have that core,” he told Vulcan Post.
Setting boundaries in a competitive industry
Being in the competitive and saturated beauty industry, people have to find a lot of ways to market their products. Without generalising, Kelvin admitted that the beauty industry can be rather superficial and cruel at times when doing so too.
An example of this was when he was approached by a conglomerate with the intention of collaborating. Kelvin was shocked, as Lip & Co. was an up-and-coming company, and he did not understand why a large corporation was interested in collaborating with him.
He made it very clear from the start that Lip & Co.’s business model is about community, collaboration, and growing as a collective.
Throughout their discussion, Kelvin had an inkling that the conglomerate didn’t align with the values and principles that were laid out.
Cut to the MCO—which was when the collaboration was supposed to happen—and it fell through.
“When everyone was going through a hard time, we had to understand that they were also trying to find ways to make a living,” Kelvin realised. “So they tried to exploit the situation.”
Reflecting on that incident, Kelvin began setting up boundaries for whether or not he would agree to a partnership moving forward. He decided that such a decision would be made upon the very first meetup.
It’s a risk when it comes to business. You need to be pragmatic, you need to use wisdom, and you need to understand the values of the company and why you’re going into the collaboration.
Kelvin Tan, founder of Lip & Co.
Not just about profits
Beyond that situation though, Kelvin did share that he’s happy about most collaborations that Lip & Co. has done.
One of the successful ones was a campaign called, “My Kind of Beauty”. It was where the beauty brand had 10 personalities championing the kind beauty movement about empathy and kindness.
Another that he’d organised before was to bring awareness to cruelty against strays in Malaysia, in collaboration with former Miss World Malaysia and SPCA Ambassador, Ms Thanuja.
In doing so, Kelvin disclaimed that such campaigns might not make a profit for his startup, but the intention was to bring about awareness that could give back to the community.
“Sometimes it’s not about raising the funds, it’s creating a dialogue and letting people understand a message through our platform.”
“I think having a beauty brand doing that is easier because beauty creates communication among friends, among peers, and you start a community,” Kelvin shared.
Being kind as an entrepreneur
Kelvin believes that his kindness is innate, and he believes that the same can be said for every single one of us.
For instance, when a founder of a company or an entrepreneur has a passion for something, they want to introduce their idea that would benefit the community. This can be an example of kindness too.
“Kindness is very important, you need to be kind to yourself, and understand what kindness truly means to you. Then naturally you’ll be able to be kind to others,” he explained.
In essence, while making a living or running a business, be of value to others.
This is made even more important than ever as times have changed, and people are more connected, which means everything is more democratised.
“If you’re selling a product, what’s behind the product, and what are the values?” Kelvin encouraged entrepreneurs to ask themselves.
This interview was done as part of our ongoing Vulcan Post video series, Open Book.
You can watch Kelvin’s video interview here:
- Read other Malaysian startups we’ve featured here.