Joaane Ang knows how difficult and painful chronic eczema can be, having witnessed her brother’s ordeal with it. The Singapore-based entrepreneur was also struck by the negative social stigmas that often accompany skin conditions. She became determined to both find a treatment and address people’s attitudes towards eczema. The result is Kansoskin, a line of pre- and probiotic skincare products made from Asian botanicals. In her three years in business, Ang has experienced some huge wins – but also burnout. She works to keep things in perspective and remember why she started her brand in the first place.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
Tell us more about why you started your business.
My brother has suffered from chronic eczema since he was young. After a decade of using topical steroids, he began to have topical steroid withdrawal. This visible skin condition caused him to be teased and discriminated against and I wanted to do something about it.
I wanted to create gentle skincare solutions that were free of irritants and allergens to help people with skin conditions reduce their dependence on topical steroids and avoid side effects like TSW from happening in the first place.
I also wanted to create more awareness and education surrounding skin conditions. We fear what we don’t understand, so if people understand that skin conditions like eczema or TSW are not contagious, we can hopefully reduce the stigma surrounding them. Knowledge is power!
Once I decided to start a skincare line, I knew I wanted to promote self-love and self-acceptance with the brand. Our brand focuses heavily on skin health instead of skin’s appearance. We regularly feature people of different skin tones and skin conditions.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
We focus on the use of time-tested botanicals from Asia instead of following trendy ingredients. Each of our ingredients is selected based on its unique merits. We also focus on facts-based marketing and avoid fear-mongering to sell our products.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
One clinic in Singapore tested our product on his patients and found it was so effective he placed a wholesale order from us. We were also approached by a multi-label skincare e-retailer from the Philippines who ordered wholesale from us.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Business know-how. It’s my first time running my own business and there were many things I had to learn along the way. I make an effort to be open-minded and learn from other successful entrepreneurs and absorb knowledge from those who are willing to share.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
In 2021 I suffered from burnout due to the immense amount of pressure I was putting myself under. I fell into a depression for many months and struggled to even get out of bed. I even thought of giving up the business. When I was in that place, I was unable to listen to anyone’s advice, even though their intentions were good. I end up coming out of it a stronger version of myself.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Don’t let money or “more free time” be the reasons why you are starting a business. Because when the going gets tough, if you don’t have a compelling reason and drive, it can be very hard to continue. If you think running a business gives you freedom, you are wrong. Your business will always be on your mind, from the moment you wake up until you go to bed.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
Reading books. The autobiographies of other entrepreneurs always help me put things into perspective. I remind myself to have gratitude for all the things I have in my life instead of what I do not have.
What is your go to song to get motivated on tough days?
Any song by Bon Jovi.
Who is your most important role model?