Our Level Up Hangout at Monkey Cup Cafe two weeks ago included a session by Jeanette Hee. She runs and owns Human Nature Malaysia, a personal skincare business.
We invited her because we wanted her to share about the actual experience of running an online store. She has been doing it for almost 3 years now.
As always, Nic started off with a quick introduction, noting that as with all things in life, we need support and encouragement in order to be courageous to do things we do.
Nic remarked that many people often easily gave up on their dreams because they were often discouraged by the people around them. “How could that be possible? If it could work, someone out there must probably be doing it already!” These words have killed off the dreams of many potential entrepreneurs.
Jeanette heard that little voice in her head that said the same things too when she decided to teach French for a living. The voice in her head kept saying “It wouldn’t work! Why would anyone want to learn French?” (and from a Filipino too!)
She knew that in order for her dream to come true, she had to get out from her comfort zone.
Therefore, she decided to put out an ad in the paper advertising her French tutoring services and in no time, she was teaching French 25 hours a week! (All this on top of holding a regular job.)
However, Jeanette was also smart enough to realize that she was the “asset” of her French tutoring. If she worked, she made money. If she decided to take a day off or fell sick, there would be no income.
It was a shocking realization – one that hit her hard enough for her to decide that enough was enough.
This is not the business she wanted – she wanted something different where she wasn’t the money-making machine herself. She wanted a business that she could make money even if she was not involved and could have time off to do what she liked.
She decided that she would like to be in the product business and coincidentally, she came across a Philippine skincare brand which she enjoyed using.
As she herself had suffered much from using products with harmful chemicals (“hair loss, itchy scalp and skin issues”), she had found this Filipino brand to be good for her skin. The products are free from harmful chemicals and uses locally grown Filipino crops which in turn supports the Filipino farmers.
She enjoyed using the products so much that she asked if she could be its Malaysian distributor. Almost immediately they said yes and that is how she became the Malaysian distributor for these products.
What truly enamoured her was that the products were made using crops grown by poor farmers in the Philippines such as sunflowers, strawberries (yes, they do grow over there, just like we grow them here in Cameron Highlands), coconuts, sugar cane and more.
Jeanette said that the skincare business helps these farmers get out of poverty. Growing sunflowers, strawberries, coconuts, sugar cane and more gives them better income compared to just growing rice on the same plot of land.
Jeanette’s company is the sole distributor for the Human Nature brand in Malaysia. Her products are sold in local pharmacies as well as on her own website.
The Best Thing About An Online Business
What she loves most, says Jeanette, is her online business gives her freedom. Her website/online store runs 24/7 and people can shop for her products at her website any time they like. The plus point is that she could start her online store for very little money unlike opening a brick-and-mortar shop.
However, there are also challenges.
She explained that she has to work a lot harder on convincing online customers because they can’t smell or touch the products. She also admitted that she needs to work at updating her website regularly as new products come in.
The hardest part is figuring how to sell to people you can’t see! She uses a live chat feature on her website and yes, she often uses her live chat sessions to explain to potential customers about her products.
She also mentioned that it can be quite challenging in getting people to visit her website because after all, there are so many websites online!
Three years after launching her business, she is seeing more customers not just from Penang but from other states like Pahang, Sabah and Sarawak. She hopes that one day she can expand her reach to cover the entire Malaysian market.
Besides Jeanette’s sharing, Nic also put us through a quick and fun confidence boosting exercise to get us all warmed up. We can tell you everyone was super pumped up! (“We were all unstoppable rockstars!” just to quote another guest who coined that phrase.)
“Level Up was very eye-opening…will definitely go for the next Level Up!” said Julia, one of our guests.
All in all, it was a great way to meet new friends and get inspired to move forward, be it in our lives or business.
Ready for the next Level Up?
Our next Level Up will be at Downtown Art Heritage Cafe on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. It’s at the corner where Armenian Street meets Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, to be precise.
We will also be debuting our business game, Big Timer, at this session so if you want to be among the first to play our business game, make sure you join us in the 29 October session!