Grooming, Skincare

Porcelain’s Pauline Ng on Her Business Beliefs and COVID-19

Porcelain’s Pauline Ng on Her Business Beliefs and COVID-19

A lot of the things about the world we live in used to be in the dreams of those who came before us. What we imagined or dreamed to create has always been what humans were already capable of.

All we needed was a little patience.

In July 2009 when my mother and I first started Porcelain, it was based on a simple dream to do things the right way with two approaches. The first was in how we conducted our business — by building trusted relationships with customers and employees with integrity above all else. The second was to create a world-class beauty business to help people achieve healthy skin from within.

Little did I know that it would be the start of a ten-year journey of deep personal introspection and revelations.

For many entrepreneurs, their business is an extension of them. Understanding themselves, finding an alignment between their heritage and beliefs, and realising the value of which their business is creating is the secret to finding inner peace. A good friend once told me only to read books that have withstood the test of time be, it centuries or millenniums.

What you read can greatly influence your thoughts, which then forms the fabric of your character when you apply them in life.

For me, it started with the question of “why we do what we do?” It is our purpose and our core because we cannot possibly exist only to make profits.

True Realism
I once had a vibrant discussion on a BBC Podcast where they asked if we were guilty of propagating unrealistic beauty ideals to make a profit. Knowing the reason for the business’s existence, I was certain we were not.

Beauty is not just skin-deep and I do not personally stand for curated superficiality. However, healthy skin is something all men and women deserve, and achieving that is neither unrealistic nor superficial.

It is the bedrock of a person’s confidence, and how they literally face the world.

The Porcelain Philosophy
The Porcelain philosophy from day one stems from a naturalistic approach of knowing how cells work. Solutions (treatments and products) are developed in-house with that approach in mind to restore the skin’s health to its equilibrium state. This is a continuous, fine-balancing act as our skin is a living organ.

At the core of the business, we are in one that centres around people. I fundamentally believe that technology should be used to enhance and not to eliminate human touch.

The latter is used to bring people closer together and create relationships that are irreplaceable by technology. With a humanistic approach, our technological investments seek to bridge our knowledge with the customer’s experience at Porcelain.

These platforms include a mobile App, customer relationship management, skin diagnosis, e-commerce, and an interactive bar and table to enhance consumer experience. It is meant to build stronger, more trusted and transparent relationships with them.

Over the past ten years of pouring through research and working with labs and medical equipment manufacturers, we have learnt to cut through the smoke and mirrors surrounding what works and what is fluff.

The next natural step would be to bring that know-how to our consumers.

Looking Ahead
My mom’s businesses succumbed to the Asian Financial Crisis and SARS. When we started Porcelain, I made it my top priority not to build just a beautiful business but a solid company.

This meant having strong fundamentals — financial, people and technology. We were blessed with ten good years to create measures to best manage our risks until COVID-19 came and took the world by storm. No amount of business analyses could have factored in a possibility of a global pandemic of such scale and duration.

Regardless, we are grateful for having invested in technology. All our back end operations continue to run smoothly as we are already fully integrated on the cloud. An initiative we created and deployed within three days was a two-week remote internal training program during the Circuit Breaker.

We aim for zero retrenchment but we need to be smart about the evolving situation too. Perhaps, it is good time to for us to reflect, refocus and discover new ways to do things better.

Our latest concept store at Paragon is named Porcelain Origins. Origins refers to where we came from and remembering our heritage, purpose, and the people who helped us get here. In Chinese, there’s an idiom — “remembering the source of where our water comes from”. Origins also refers to the birth of new ideas and creations. The symbolism of origins keeps us both rooted to our heritage but also gives us wings to explore the uncharted territories we dream of.

The sun will always rise again, and more so than ever, we need to look forward. “Imagination without action is hallucination”, the world you have envisioned can become reality if work begins today.

Pauline Ng is the Founder and Managing Director of Porcelain Pte Ltd.

This story first appeared in the May ’20 issue of Men’s Folio Singapore.