Beauty Insider: How COVID-19 Reshaped The Beauty Industry
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Beauty Insider: How COVID-19 Reshaped The Beauty Industry

Beauty Insider: How COVID-19 Reshaped The Beauty Industry

Beauty | June 2, 2022
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Three CEOs weigh in on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the beauty industry while sharing secrets about how they managed to recover from it.

I have been cutting my hair and that of my daughter’s for the past two years. DIY hairdos for women, self-styled man cuts, and other in-home treatments have become the norm—and the best option really—during the height of the pandemic. But now that restrictions have been lifted and the economy is recovering, the beauty industry is also experiencing a rebirth. And with that, people want a new look for themselves, along with this “newfound freedom”.

It’s a very cautious transition though for the beauty industry. What safety protocols are being practiced by these proprietors? What has been the most important pivot that owners have had to make? What are their plans for the future, given the ever-changing nature of the beauty industry and its market? These three CEOs weigh in on what it takes to run their businesses during COVID-19:

Jose “Chase” Tinio III: CEO of Büce Philippines, Design Studio Salon (IG: @designstudioph)

Inspired by the avante-garde and progressive hair salons in Los Angeles and Santa Monica (where he previously lived), Chase Tinio made sure he knew everything about running a beauty business before venturing out to start his own. This meant learning how to cut, color, and style hair himself. He then eventually made his way back to Manila and put his technical skill to the test when he started Design Studio with the help of his family.

And that was 11 years ago.

“Presently, we have two operational branches,” explains Chase. “The pandemic has certainly been a strain. Instead of letting our people go, we did the exact opposite. We invested heavily in training our staff during the lull.

CEO on the Rise—Chase Tinio believes in keeping his employees happy. “I try to keep a healthy relationship with the staff. If they feel appreciated, it translates to their performance. It’s a win-win proposition.”

Using the pandemic to hone their skills truly paid off. To date, they are best known for their coloring treatments (Balayage, 3D, and 4D Micro Highlights) and hair straightening service (Permanent Blowout). “We also kept our clients happy by giving them great service the minute we were allowed to open. I am happy to say that we almost always have a full house of patrons daily,” Chase enthuses.

The lockdown also gave birth to yet another undertaking—this time a complementary project to the salons. The Tinios decided to partner with Büce (Bee-yu-chae) Automated Beauty Furnishings, an international brand that supplies vanity chairs to professional salons as well as to residential dwellings.

What’s next for the brand? Chase discloses that they are in the middle of building a sister brand for Design Studio. The idea here is to offer a very focused set of highly specialized services—the kind that will cater to the upper class. “If we have been conservative in expanding in the past, I feel [that] now is the opportune time to go full speed ahead!”

Delivering Cutting Edge Service in a Clean and Safe Space—Design Studio’s staff members are decked head-to-foot in protective suits, masks, and gloves. All hair instruments are sanitized before use and stations are separated by Invisisheids (also produced by Büce Philippines) which are plastic barriers that keep clients protected but not claustrophobic.

Roberta “Tab” Estacion: CEO of Browhaus (IG: @browhausmanila)

Backed by decades of providing brow and lash grooming services, Browhaus is considered a powerhouse player in the beauty industry. And at the helm of this successful concept brand is acute businesswoman Tab Estacion. To date, their most popular services include the Brow Resurrection (200,000 brows resurrected globally!) and Eye Define.

“Browhaus, which originated from Singapore, was built for the image-conscious urbanite who demands both function and style,” shares Tab. “We opened the first branch in Manila in 2008. Now we have 8 shops in the Metro including Davao.”

The biggest challenge for them was being considered a non-essential category 4. Thankfully, once these restrictions were lifted, the salons had an influx of old and new clients. People wanted to self-indulge. They felt stuck and wanted to look good for the Zoom meetings.

Self-Love is Essential—Tab Estacion takes pride in always being at the forefront of creativity.

But while in lockdown, feverish preparations were done by management to push the launch dates of products and services. Time was dedicated to training and upgrading the skills of the therapists at their very own Browhaus Training School—facilitated by both in-house and international experts.

During the pandemic, Tab and her team even managed to open a new branch at S Maison. “We were relentless in pursuing our goals and that’s how we survived the trying times. Our digital systems were well in place beforehand, so we were able to generate sales from proprietary products,” she explains.

What can clients look forward to in the future? Browhaus recently launched the Plasma Lift (a non-invasive treatment that uses a plasma jet to tighten the skin) and the Brow Lamination (a brow perm that lifts and sets the brows for a fuller look) treatments.

Browhaus is the ultimate go-to stop for international travelers to get their brows groomed. Clients are asked to fill up a health declaration form, temperatures are checked, and all tools and cubicles are sanitized before and after use.

Suzzane Ong Tan: President of Suesh MakeUp Toolkit (IG: @sueshmakeuptoolkit)

Suesh Makeup and Toolkit (SMT) is the brainchild of three enterprising sisters: Suzzane, Sue, and Sheryll Ong—hence why the brand name is also a play on their names.

Suzanne started her career as a makeup artist, but while practicing her craft, she had difficulty in sourcing beauty tools. In 2008, she saw the potential in starting a one-stop hub for all beauty essentials. At first, Suesh was mainly sold online, but it was only in 2010 when they opened brick and mortar stores in the malls.

Suzzane Ong Tan

Presently, SMT‘s product range consists of brushes, cosmetics, lashes, light fixtures, make-up bags, and make-up stations. As for their client base, Suesh caters to celebrities, influencers, salons, and just about anybody who fancies getting dolled up.

“It was our online business that kept our brand alive during the pandemic. Having established it at the onset of our business, we already had an effective and known channel working for us,” says Suzzane. “We focused our efforts on growing the online platforms these last two years. While most of our clients stayed at home, they were still able to purchase our products and do a lot of DIY styling themselves.”

“Our top products are the Riki mirrors, make-up cases or stations, and the lights,” she continues. “We source our items from Hong Kong, Korea, and the US. All are premium items that we sell at very competitive prices. It has been our practice to keep up with beauty trends so our products are forever changing. Innovation keeps us relevant.

In addition to their existing products, SMT also offers basic and advanced in-depth, face-to-face Hair and Makeup Classes.

It takes three—Sisters Suzzane Ong Tan, Sue Cashmere Ong Lim, and Sheryll Ong Kim have distinct roles in running their beauty business.
Mirror, Mirror On the Wall—Not only does Suesh Makeup Toolkit carry the latest in cosmetics and gadgets, but it also prides itself in giving good after-sales services like maintenance, repair, and product warranty.

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