Women Who Launch: Katfood
Kendra Liew, 26
Managing Partner, Katfood
From law school to entrepreneur, Kendra Liew is barely 26. This young and hands-on Singaporean girl juggles between concocting natural skincare recipes at home on weekdays and fulfilling deejay gigs overseas on weekends to earn extra income. What started many years ago as a experiment for her brother’s acne problems using ingredients from the kitchen has become her labor of love today.
What prompted you to start a small business?
When I was a teenager, I started reading labels and found most skincare products to be full of chemicals combined with lots of false advertising. I decided to make my own homemade beauty remedies and share them with friends and family. I have also always wanted to run my own business and be my own boss. After 3 years of practice as a litigation lawyer, I found myself increasingly unhappy and unfulfilled in my work. At the same time, I have been toying with the idea of making my own natural beauty products for while. I finally decided to take the plunge and pursue my dream.
How did you come up with the name Katfood?
I get this question so often! The name Katfood is obviously a play on ‘cat food’. The ‘kat’ bit is simply because I love cats and it starts with a K because my name starts with a K. The ‘food’ bit comes from how all my products are so fresh that they are like food.
You don’t find the name misleading?
No! In fact, I like that it is fun and quirky. It gets people thinking.
When did you start your business?
In 2014, I started putting the idea to work in January. Seven months after in July, I registered the company name and left my job at the law firm to pursue Katfood full-time in August. Some of the groundwork for Katfood was already done by the time I quit. My website and webstore was launched in November, and everything since then has been full steam ahead.
What was your initial start-up cost?
How have you always been interested in natural beauty care?
Yes. I have always been the one to put honey and yogurt on my face and olive oil and bananas in my hair. In fact, my morning skin cleansing routine is to rub fresh lemon peel on my face (it really works!). To be honest, back when I was testing my homemade products on my brother, not everything worked. There has been lots of trial and error.
What is your best-selling product?
Green Special-tea Handy Salve and John Lemon Lip Balm. Many office ladies (and some of their husbands I’ve been told) love the hand salve as it moisturizes without leaving any oily or sticky residue. The lip balm is yummy too. It is made with raw honey and lemon. Men love it because it reminds them of food (and it basically is!)
Since you make your own homemade beauty recipes, do you take custom orders?
I could consider customization requests although it is not part of the main business. Having said that, I had an order to make 80 mini lip balms for a friend’s wedding last month.
What are the key ingredients in your products?
Almost all Katfood products are coconut oil based except for the dry ones which I use some form of dried coconut instead. I base my whole range on coconut oil because it is an all-round overachieving natural beauty remedy. In addition to its hydrating properties, coconut oil improves skin conditions such as rashes, sunburns, blemishes, wrinkles, scars, eczema and much more. It is also effective as a natural hair treatment. You can even use it in your cooking and just drink it straight up to give your body that beauty boost from the inside.
What is a typical work day for you?
My schedule is super erratic now so it’s really hard to say! I could have 5 different meetings in one day or spend half a day replying emails and the other half making Katfood. One thing is for certain though – I’m always busy. But I love what I am doing now. There is nothing like pursuing your passion.
How do you see your business in this competitive beauty market?
Katfood recipes are simple and ingredients easy to recognize. More importantly, prices are kept low so everyone can afford the products. I think I have quite an interesting range of products apart from the usual body lotions and lip balms. I love to expand Katfood’s product range over time and eventually open a brick-and-mortar store. For now, I’m working hard to just get more people to know of Katfood.
What advice would you give to other young women thinking of setting up a beauty business?
Be brave. Just do it if it feels right. You never know until you try.
Who inspires you?
I used to volunteer at the Celebral Palsy Alliance Singapore (CPAS), formerly known as Spastic Children Association of Singapore. Kids there inspire me. My cousin has celebral palsy so I know how hard they struggle and how difficult it is for them to do simple things that we take for granted everyday. When I see these kids, somehow my own problems seem so trivial. Initially, I wanted to start Katfood as a social enterprise but not right now. Maybe in the future. I want to help these kids lead a more fulfilling life.
Do you practice eco-conscious living?
I don’t do nearly enough. I admit eco-friendly living is only a piecemeal part of my life where I can manage it – like cutting back on utilities, using cloth shopping bags and doing my laundry with soap nuts!
If you could play your part in saving the Planet in just one way, what would it be?
I’m sure the world needs saving. But to be honest, if I could do anything, I would definitely be saving cats.
Thanks Kendra ♥
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