The beauty doyenne who pioneered cosmetic research in Singapore at the Estetica Group, Karen Lam is seeking her next success: helping people achieve self confidence through skin confidence.
WHAT DOES THE TERM “GAME CHANGER” MEAN TO YOU?
A game changer creates the game and defines the rules. They don’t follow trends or pursue what’s latest.
HOW WOULD YOU SAY YOU’VE PLAYED YOUR PART TO BE ONE IN THE INDUSTRY YOU’RE IN?
I have been in this industry for almost 20 years and one of our most resounding successes has come in the field of Innovation and R&D. About ten years ago while everyone else was purchasing easily readily available technology, we decided to focus on science and innovations.
Having partnered with A*STAR and fielded a team of world-class scientists to develop game-changing technologies that can be deployed in skincare, we now have our own proprietary transdermal delivery system SPHR™ that drives our Heure skincare range but also our SkAI matrix for ést.lab skincare that informs the way we formulate the safest and most efficacious products for use in the market. Between the two, we have challenged the way Singaporean skincare brands are perceived and transformed the way in which we engage an increasingly global audience.
Our drive to create revolutionary skincare for ést.lab and Verdure haircare devices is instrumental in redefining and simplifying the way in which time-strapped consumers optimise their daily beauty routine. On the ESG front, we have been progressive in leading the way in our clean and sustainable initiatives, whether it is incorporating ethically sourced ingredients or reworking our packaging en route to a zero-waste future.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE HIGHLIGHTS AND MAJOR CHALLENGES OF YOUR JOURNEY?
The challenges never cease! One of the biggest hurdles was probably breaking traditional mindsets. Being a second generation leader at the Estetica Group meant that I was able to inherit a lot of the success built through the years by my mother but it also meant inheriting a lot of the work culture and traditions that succeeded only by the cult of her charisma and personality. Transitioning from that to a more corporate and professional structure was immense!
It was also tough to gain the support of many long-serving staff so I enrolled myself in a beauty course to be an accredited beauty therapist. It was working from the ground up that gave me the chance to look at things from a different perspective and these insights enabled me to understand and implement policies that could effectively improve job satisfaction and career progression. Being on the ground also meant I was able to engage firsthand with many of our customers, which allowed me to better understand and identify the gaps in the skincare market. This spurred me to source for the latest facial technologies to launch in-store, as well as develop new product innovations to resolve their skincare woes. Helping my customers achieve their skin goals and constantly getting positive feedback from them is my greatest motivation to do better for them.
About ten years ago, I had a horrific kitchen accident where I suffered third-degree burns on about 20% of my body, and spent the next two years undergoing multiple skin graft surgeries and physiotherapy. Having been groomed in the beauty industry and brought up within the culture and expectations that came with it, I then spent the next few years covering up all my scars fearing stares and weird looks. For me, the physical scarring from the accident layered much deeper mental and emotional scars.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF, YOUR MOTIVATIONS AND YOUR FIELD THROUGH THAT PROCESS?
The past ten years have been an incredible process of self discovery. Having been in this industry for many years, there are times when you have to deal with self-doubt and imposter syndrome. I have learnt to be kinder to myself, constantly reminding myself of my ‘why’ and continue to live life with a greater purpose and confidence. And precisely right where I am rooted in this beauty business, I hope to continue to inspire more people to build up their self-confidence through skin confidence, and more importantly, to know that there’s beauty to be found even in life’s imperfections, scars and all.
WHAT ARE SOME CHANGES YOU’D LIKE TO SEE IN YOUR INDUSTRY AND HOW WOULD YOU SEE YOUR ROLE IN INFLUENCING IT?
I think one of the more positive trends that have impacted the skincare industry in recent years is the much broader, more inclusive and diverse perception of beauty. We are now more acutely aware and accepting of a beauty spectrum that cuts across different ethnic lines, different skin and body types, and the possibilities of an almost infinite degree of personalisation. And the best thing about that is, with AI and Web3 applications, we now have the technology and platforms able to provide just that. To the degree that my personal experiences and journey are able to inspire a more accepting and beautiful world in the pursuit of physical beauty, I would love to be able to play a role in building the confidence and self esteem and love that accompanies it.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE?
I hope to empower every person to find their own beautiful narrative through my own personal journey of healing and breakthroughs.
WHAT SHOULD THE NEXT GENERATION OF GAME CHANGERS ASPIRE TO BE?
Be adaptable, daring, relentless. We are already in a future where technology radically changes human behaviour as we currently know it, and the people who are able to adapt and leverage it will be the ones who can completely change the game.
PHOTOGRAPHY ZANTZ HAN
STYLING GREGORY WOO
ART DIRECTION MARISA XIN
HAIR AND MAKEUP SHA SHAMSI, USING KMS AND CHANEL BEAUTY
PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANTS DENNIS ER AND MICHELLE YAP
STYLING ASSISTANTS YULIA SEE AND VANESSA GRACE NG
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