Carol Chen is a lady power. He has built five different companies on four continents and now has the mission to create “The Best Facial Masks in the World” in our new pandemic reality.
His latest business, Mask, was quickly built outside his apartment, just a week before the Circuit Breaker took over in April 2020.
He strove to put it all on his own and today Maskela has become a world brand. It ships to more than 15 countries around the world and has earned over $ 10,000 with just one day of online sales.
According to Carol, they are one of the top brands of pure fashion masks in Singapore with the the largest range of more than 100 design styles, focusing exclusively on fashion masks and mask-related products.
It has recently secured a contract to sell its masks to luxury American retailer Neiman Marcus, making Maskela the first Singapore brand to do so. Her masks have also been seen on List A celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Sarah Jessica Parker, among others.
She always had something for fashion
By age seven, Carol already had it making clothes by itself out of blankets and safety pins. When she was a little girl, she spent all her free time sketching out dresses or designing her siblings, so it was inevitable that she would end up graduating in fashion design.
“I love fashion as a means to express myself and help build trust, but I’m not a big fan of trends or excessive materialism,” she said.
Growing up, she always felt insecure about his appearance and skills. He tried to overcome it by learning to look together, giving his best in everything he did and constantly looking for ways to improve.
This eventually led to many successes in increasing confidence, such as winning a beauty contest, which gradually helped her feel more comfortable in her own skin as she developed her strengths and personal identity.
Last year, Carol got it wins Singapore Stories 2020, a fashion design contest organized by The Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFF). The victory gave her a catwalk debut at Paris Fashion Week, an exhibition of her designs at the Museum of Asian Civilizations and a retail opportunity with Asian retailer SocietyA.
Like how Maskela started, she participated in the fashion contest based on an immediate instinct. Despite having a background in fashion design and working fashion for most of her life, she is not a full-fledged fashion designer.
Recognizing his rusty design skills, he said he met renowned and talented fashion designers in Singapore. However, she did not feel bewildered and created beautiful designs with recycled fabrics for the contest that won the admiration and approval of the jury.
Along with Maskela, he has now released his own label of the same name called Carol Chen.
A serial entrepreneur
Born in the United States, Carol came from a family of entrepreneurs, so being her own boss was a natural step for her.
His first business was a clothing brand based in Los Angeles that eventually closed due to the weakening of the US economy. The second was a cheerleading uniform company that currently continues to thrive under the leadership of its co-founder. Then there was also a mixed martial arts (MMA) brand that she did with her ex-boyfriend before separating.
It wasn’t always easy, but it wasn’t difficult either, as I have a high tolerance for risk and discomfort. All you need is an optimistic attitude, a lot of resilience and a strong belief in yourself.
Start-up capital can come from savings and investors, but I think if you have a good business idea and willpower, your path will open up and resources will help you.
– Carol Chen, founder of Maskela
He explained that the reason he came out of his security bubble in his home country to start business in unknown places is because he believes the world has so much more to offer.
Some moves were made out of love, others out of necessity, others just because I wanted a new adventure. There are so many amazing places and amazing opportunities around the world that you think it would be a shame to stay in one place.
He moved to Singapore for love, but ended up falling in love with the country itself.
He said the friendly, efficient and reliable bureaucratic and regulatory environment in Singapore is very conducive to business creation and operation. Now, he plans to base his business in Singapore for the foreseeable future.
Apparently, Maskela became an overnight success
Just before Maskela, Carol ran Covetella in Singapore, a designer clothing rental store that allows women to borrow and buy dresses or customize tailored dresses. Unfortunately, Covetella has had to suspend operations since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He decided to close the showroom and change his focus to Maskela. With the cancellation of events last year, he reasoned that it made no sense for him to continue paying the rent indefinitely when there was no demand for his services. In fact, it still retains many designer costumes that are not yet in use.
In recounting Maskela’s birth, he said that at the beginning of the pandemic masks were not mandatory, but that he wanted to wear one to protect himself.
Surgical masks were the only option at the time and, as a fashionista, she felt ashamed to wear them because they were very unsightly. That’s how he came up with the idea of cutting some of Covetella’s unused dresses to make aesthetically pleasing facial masks.
About a week later, Singapore announced the Circuit Breaker and was striving to get everything it needed as soon as possible to build a business outside its apartment.
All fabric shops and factories were closed during this time, so it was extremely difficult to get raw material suppliers and increase production.
Maskela was one of the toughest businesses I have ever built because I was stuck at home and the country was closed. But out of pure will, he still managed to make it happen.
– Carol Chen, founder of Maskela
She then proceeded to hire three inmates, who worked alongside her outside her living room. It’s only been four months since Circuit Breaker made six-figure revenue.
They also had many corporate orders that reported significant revenue. Real estate management firm Frasers Hospitality, for one, ordered thousands of masks from all its hotels worldwide. Other big clients are Bulgari, Skin Inc, 1880, Design Orchard, TaFF, Tindle and Neiman Marcus.
Today, Maskela has become the most complete single-brand mask, selling everything related to the mask: mask chains, mask clips, mask disinfectants, mask filters, and mask gift sets.
Which made it such a big hit
True to Carol’s commitment to building socially and environmentally responsible businesses, like Covetella, Maskela’s origins have their roots in sustainability. Her initial masks were recycled after cutting old Covetella dresses.
Even today, most of their styles are made with remnants of fabrics, which means that once the fabric is finished they can’t produce any more, which makes their limited edition masks really rare.
I had the right product at the right time. I was one of the first Singapore brands to make fashion masks in March 2020 and worked tirelessly to make sure it was the best mask I could make in terms of quality, comfort and design.
I also spent time building the brand so that it would have value as well. There are many masks, but you don’t see many like Maskela, and our high customer repeat rate proves we’re doing something right. We also pack our masks as gifts to encourage people to buy them for their loved ones to keep them safe and stylish.
– Carol Chen, founder of Maskela
He also shared tips on his successful marketing strategies for consumer goods. The first is to create a superior product and service that speaks for itself. When people love it, they will market it through word of mouth.
The second is to launch a digital marketing campaign through social media, influencer participation, content creation, as well as the use of traditional marketing strategies through public relations (PR) and partnerships.
For Maskela, search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) were not available as an option, as Facebook and Google initially banned anything related to personal protective equipment ( PPE), so they had to rely on other creative forms. to get your brand out there.
He invested in hiring a reputable public relations firm in the United States to get his masks to be worn by famous and influential A-list characters. This is important in establishing the luxury brand image for the target audience of the market.
It targets the A list and the elites to ensure higher profit margins that will make your business more valuable.
Climb to be the most important luxury mask in the world
According to Carol, her goal for Maskela is to become the most important luxury mask brand in the world.
It plans to expand its offerings to a larger market with more variety of use cases, citing examples such as masks for men and children. You also want to offer more bridal masks, mask accessories and introduce more customizable options. The list is endless for her.
Even when the pandemic ends, Carol believes people will continue to be health-conscious, so they are looking to launch a line of hand sanitizers and travel kits, as well as incorporating other protective products such as goggles. ground.
For now, Carol wants to do things one step at a time, but she has absolute faith in herself that when the time comes, she will know what to do, as has been shown time and time again.
“I put myself in situations where I know I can shine. Doing any business is hard, so you have to play where you can win. To make up for my weaknesses, I surround myself with people who are better than me and I try to learn from them, ”he reflected.
Her advice for other women around the world who want to do their thing is simple: start small and take one step at a time, but never wait until you feel “ready” because you will never be.
Just follow your heart and if it doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world, you’ll just have good stories to tell. Don’t be afraid of failure, but accept it as an opportunity for learning and growth.
Life is short, so it’s best to do what you can while you can. I also think that if you want to do something, you have to do it right and give your best. If not, why do you do it at all?
– Carol Chen, founder of Maskela
Featured Image Credit: Carol Chen