Celebrating Reme's (ree-mee) 1st Birthday

As Reme celebrates its first birthday, we grabbed a few moments with our Founder, Yen, to share the journey that got Reme through its first year. A year filled with a rollercoaster of challenges, growth, and unexpected surprises - if you're a Founder, you'll know the highs and the lows that come with the founder's journey. So, here's a glimpse into the BTS of building Reme. 

What's one thing people would be most surprised to find out?

Unlike typical skincare brands, our products stand out with bold, unconventional aesthetics. When we first started working with PR, the creative director asked if I had done a competitor analysis among other brands. She noted that our brand design didn’t align with what was already out there in the beauty industry and even remarked that it looked more like a haircare product. My response was clear: that’s exactly the point.
As a woman of colour growing up in Australia, I often felt like an outsider. I wanted Reme to reflect that sense of being a misfit-unique, bold, and unconventional. The design is a deliberate departure from the norm, celebrating individuality and challenging industry beauty standards. This desire for change is not only intentional, but deeply personal.  When I was 19, I was the victim of a racial attack that made the news, profoundly changing my perspective on identity and difference. That experience reinforced my belief in the importance of embracing and celebrating our uniqueness. Our brand embodies this ethos, striving to make everyone feel seen and valued, no matter how different they may feel.

We’d love to hear about the early stages of product development. How did you land on the final formula?

Developing the final formula for Reme’s products was a journey filled with trial and error. Initially, I aimed to utilise more naturally-derived ingredients, but after several failed formulations, I learned that all-natural does not equal effectiveness and a better sensorial experience. The textures were unpleasant, sticky, didn’t emulsify or foam properly, and irritated the eyes. For the cleansing balm, it left an oily residue on the skin, all of which was unacceptable for a brand focused on sensitive skin. I wanted to ensure the sensory experience was delectable for a longer-purchasing journey such that one would finish before purchasing their next product. 
I opted for a hybrid formulation, combining synthetic and natural ingredients in the right dosages to maximise effectiveness while being gentle on the skin. The early stages were challenging, as selecting the right ingredients that aligned with our formulation philosophy was crucial. I prioritised ingredients that were effective for sensitive skin, ethical, and sustainably sourced. Although ensuring every ingredient was sustainably sourced was costly, my background in the raw material industry helped streamline this process - only the best for you, our Reme customers!

What’s surprised you most this year about the industry?

One of the most surprising aspects of the industry this year has been the prevalent misconceptions and fear-mongering surrounding the use of chemicals versus natural ingredients in skincare. From my background in raw material science, I advocate for a balanced approach. Synthetics, when used responsibly, can offer tremendous benefits. They are not inherently harmful; rather, it's about understanding and respecting their potency.
Despite what you may think, natural doesn't always equate to better. Some natural ingredients can sensitise the skin, especially in high concentrations. For example, eucalyptus carries warnings of toxicity when inhaled or used topically excessively, yet it has numerous health benefits in controlled doses. The key is moderation and the synergy between ingredients, harnessing the best of both natural and synthetic worlds is the key to our formulations. 

What's a challenging moment you have faced since starting Reme?

Balancing time to align with business goals while avoiding burnout has been a significant challenge. Experiencing burnout drained my energy and eroded my confidence and mental well-being. Living as foreigners in a new country, we depended on my husband's job to keep our visas valid. Dealing with visa issues, rising rent, unexpected expenses, and job insecurity while trying to build a business from scratch has been overwhelming and an on-going challenge we still continue to face. 
Transparently, my mental health deteriorated, and discussing Reme often left me feeling emotional. The weight of responsibilities took a toll, but I learned the importance of self-care and boundary-setting. Prioritising my mental and emotional health is essential for sustaining long-term success. Implementing strategies to manage stress, delegate tasks effectively, and maintain a healthy work-life balance has helped me regain control and confidence in steering Reme towards its goals. A huge learning curve, but one I’m so grateful to have so early on. 

Who's the one person who has had the most impact on you?

Easy - my husband, Daniel. When I hit rock bottom, he was the one who pulled me out. Being a newbie founder I sometimes get lost in all the noise, he’s been my number 1 cheerleader, giving me the guts to keep pushing forward. Although he's not officially part of Reme, he's been my secret weapon with his experience in growing businesses in his corporate world in tech. We brainstorm ideas to tackle every hurdle, and his unwavering belief in me has been crucial. His support and belief in me has been invaluable, helping me navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship with resilience and strength.

What’s your advice to other WOC founders?

To other women of colour founders, my advice is to dig deep and find your "why," what you’re good at, what you love, and what you want to solve. What drives me is knowing the impact I am going to make, and I always envision in my mind my ideal world and that keeps me going. It may sound delusional for some haha, but what are dreams for? This will be the motivation for a sustainable business and a fulfilling life. My husband printed me a quote from Richard Branson for Christmas that resonated deeply: "If your dreams don’t scare you, they're not big enough”. This simple quote has kept me going, forging a path for other WOC founders to follow and make a mark within the industry. 

Can you give us a hint of what's in the works?

We have exciting plans to expand our product line, including something that will perfectly complement our Bi Power Cleansing Set. After experiencing burnout, I made a conscious effort to stay focused and prioritise what truly matters for the business. I took a breather before diving back into product development. Creating something from scratch takes serious dedication and effort. It took me three years to develop two products, running a business, and doing R&D simultaneously. Rest assured, our next products are in the works, intentional for our customers, and aligned with our business and industry goals. Stay tuned… 
Our first birthday is a celebration of embracing uniqueness, overcoming challenges, and continuously striving for and demanding more from the industry. Thank you for being part of our story. Here’s to many more years of innovation and shaking up the skincare game. 

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