Over the past few years, the demand for Korea’s cosmetics have soared as consumers snapped up various Korean products such as lotions, BB creams, masks, lipsticks and many more. With beautiful, dewy-skinned faces fronting the labels, it is of no surprise that these Korean beauty labels are making inroads in Singapore with their skincare products. Founder of Cosbiz Holdings Pte Ltd, Ms Irene Chiong is no stranger to the Korean cosmetics industry here, after all she is the pioneer to import the beauty products to Singapore.
When Cosbiz first started in 1999, its main focus was on retailing beauty accessories. A chance occurrence in 2000 brought Ms Irene to South Korea, where she discovered the gem; South Korean Cosmetics and Beauty Products. Realizing that there is a demand for these beauty products in Singapore, yet there was a lack of availability, she decided to bridge the gap between the two. This marked the beginning of the journey that propelled Cosbiz to be one of the leading distributors for Korean products in Singapore today.
This amazing feat has led to Ms Irene to be presented with the following awards: Singapore Prestige Class Award 2018/2019 TOP 10 Winners and Aspiring Woman Entrepreneurs 2018/2019.
During the interview with the amicable Ms Irene, she shared about her ups and downs, and how handling a business is not always as smooth sailing as it seems. Liaising with the overseas department of the various Korean brands was her first step. From carefully choosing the beauty products, to all the endless meetings, Cosbiz finally launched their Korean haircare distribution in 2001.
Undeniably, business was slow at the beginning. During the early 2000s, the ongoing trend was Jpop and all things Japanese. The daring move of bringing in Korean products to penetrate Singapore’s beauty industry was no easy feat. But Ms Irene persevered to make things work.
Visiting stores after stores to promote the benefits of Korean beauty products, Cosbiz had a humble start by opening several consignment stores to place their products. One of their first products was semi-permanent hair dye with funky colours, which was affordable yet able to last longer than other hair dyes. Subsequently, Ms Irene widened her search and added other beauty products to her retailers.
Eventually, Ms Irene’s hard work and sincerity paid off, several Korean factory brands granted Cosbiz the exclusive distributor rights to their products. And the major turning point came during 2002 when South Korean soccer player Ahn Jung Hwan scored the Golden Goal. As Ahn Jung Hwan was also the ambassador for the Korean products Ms Irene was marketing, the demand for the products surged and business started booming. The number of consumers for Korean cosmetics grew exponentially from then on.
However, a growing demand likewise indicates a growing competition. In 2006 and 2007, there was a huge jump in new companies doing the same business trade. This led to a very saturated market for Korean products, and this meant that having experience alone was not sufficient to stand out amongst the competition.
In order to differentiate Cosbiz from other companies, Ms Irene decided to also bring in brands that are not so famous yet are manufactured from the same factories that manufactured major brand names. “OEM brands may be more famous, but the factories may use less desirable ingredients for the products. Whereas for Cosbiz, we purchase directly factory’s brands, therefore the ingredients are the best albeit slightly costlier.” Ms Irene mentioned.
Since then, all merchandises has been fastidiously chosen from the best manufacturers, and Cosbiz has successfully introduced many brands into Singapore. Some of the brands being Aqutop, Esfolio, Flor de Man, Grafen, Ha’sol, L’arvore, MS.44, Yejimiin and etc.
Besides ensuring that the products Cosbiz brings in are of top notch quality, Ms Irene similarly cultivates her company staffs to work in an efficient and professional way. She frequently tells them, “In our line of business, don’t assume. And don’t say maybe.”
Today, Cosbiz has an impressive 20 years of experience under its belt and is importing beauty products from South Korea as well as other parts of Asia. Cosbiz currently distributes to over 1000 retail channels in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, and their clients include 7-eleven, Cheers, Fairprice, BHG, Guardians, Robinsons, SASA, Unity and Watsons.
Cosbiz has also taken to social media to extend their reach to consumer, and the company can be found on Qoo10, Lazada, Shopee, Ezbuy platform under the account name [Seoul Pretty]. Soon to rename as [Mexxi Mall] by the beginning of 2020 to cater a wider selection of products.
Ms Irene’s undying commitment to her company and her perseverance has led to Cosbiz to grow by leaps and bounds. And she is not stopping there, her next destination is Vietnam. In fact her company has already been established there and she is looking forward to entering the Vietnam cosmetics industry, to introduce to them the wonders of Korean beauty products. “We will start from convenience stores, drug stores and supermarkets. Then we will grow from there.” Ms Irene said.
With her resolution and strong determination, we believe without a doubt that Ms Irene will be able to achieve that.