cestmoiMs Tang hopes to ultimately launch a C’est Moi retail flagship store in London. Photo: Chong Jun Liang

In the second part of a four-week series, three companies tell Aaron Tan how they expanded from humble beginnings to make their mark at home and overseas.

The Sunday Times
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September 13, 2015

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WHEN Ms Jessica Tang’s five-year-old daughter Annabele broke out in rashes after wearing adult make-up on the day of her ballet performance, Ms Tang decided to nip the problem in the bud.

“I took her to the doctor and she was given cream to apply for a whole week before the swelling and rashes subsided,” Ms Tang says. “While that worked after a week, I felt there had to be a better solution, as Annabele was showing her talent in ballet.”

Before Ms Tang got married, she had been in the cosmetics industry, so she knew the industry had not formulated skincare and make-up products specifically for kids.

“Most of what I saw in the market was made for adults and some products even had strong ingredients that were not suited for a child’s delicate skin. When I was in New York, I discovered an organic make-up line that might be suitable for kids’ skin but it was too expensive,” she says.

In 2008, Ms Tang decided to create a safe, professional skincare and performance make-up range of products for children between the ages of four and 12.

As she had been running toy  distributor Camtec with her husband Paul Chua, she felt the new venture was right up her alley.

But it took more than five years of hard work and perseverance before the idea came to fruition. Ms Tang says: “At first, Paul was against the
idea because it was going to be expensive and we didn’t think we had enough money.”

Starting the business


Once the couple had secured funding to kickstart their business, the next step was to decide on a name for a children’s skincare and makeup line that would appeal to a global audience.

“We engaged a British brand consultant, but I turned down nearly all their suggestions as they did not sound right,” she says. “I eventually
came up with C’est Moi, which means ‘it’s me’ in French.”

Ms Tang’s choice of a French name for the cosmetics product line was intentional. Having lived in France for five months, she engaged a Singapore biochemist who worked with factories in France to formulate her products.

According to Ms Tang, the biochemist identified a list of ingredients and chemicals deemed unsuitable for children’s skin, but which are apparently found in adult skincare and make-up products.

C ’est Moi was ready to be launched, but production samples, which were needed in photo shoots and marketing efforts, would cost US$20,000 (S$28,000). Ms Tang decided it would be more cost-effective to proceed with actual production and launch at retail.

Being bold

With support from Spring Singapore, Ms Tang took the plunge and set up a C’est Moi “beauty box” with her first batch of products at department store Metro Centrepoint in November last year.

Ms Tang hopes to replicate the same experience at a bigger space in Kidzania, an indoor family entertainment centre where children are encouraged to pursue their dreams through various role-playing activities. The photos can be uploaded online or displayed on a photo wall.

“C’est Moi’s presence at Kidzania will serve as a prototype of what the retail store experience will encompass. With this proof-of-concept, we will then be able to expand globally, and ultimately have a retail flagship store in London,” Ms Tang says.

C’est Moi also plans to expand its product line to include a broader range of skincare products such as eye make-up removers, foot cream for ballerinas as well as facial masks and sprays.

Ms Tang says: “Right from the beginning, we wanted C’est Moi to be able to grow and evolve with the abundant opportunities available in this market. That’s why we went with a flexible brand identity based on splashes of colours we will never tire of.”

For more information on the retail sector and stories on how retailers have built their capabilities, please visit www.spring.gov.sg/retail or email lifestyle_division@spring.gov.sg