Superfood Skincare For Beauty Rookies
Hayley Teo is the founder of easy-to-use superfood skincare brand Rooki Beauty. She wants to make the brand accessible to everyone (including skincare rookies!) whilst focusing on superfood ingredients. We love the effective formulas and the gorgeous brand she’s created!
We’re delighted to have discovered Rooki Beauty! Tell us all about your brand? When I started Rooki I had a simple idea – skincare should feel approachable and be easy to use. I wanted to create products that were fresh, modern and fuss-free, so I named my brand Rooki to reflect these values. Since the majority of skincare brands in the market prefer to be known as experts, naming my brand Rooki was a rather tongue-in-cheek decision. It was a slightly subversive choice, but also an honest one because I was literally a rookie when I started. I was an outsider to the skincare world who had to knock on many doors to get to where we are now.
Since I had no connections to skincare, most of the ingredients I knew about were borrowed from the wellness world. Superfoods like kale, chia seeds, honey and matcha became the bedrock of my formulas. But unlike other botanical brands, we don’t just use only natural ingredients. We believe in enhancing what nature has given us, which is why our formulas are also filled with antioxidants, peptides and vitamins. We are a results-driven brand and this is what works for us.
Tell us your business story and how you began? We started in 2019 with just three products, a capsule collection of superfood skincare essentials. From there, we were able to develop a cult following of users who were passionate about our products. Even though we did not have as many resources as other brands, we had really great reviews and word of mouth. This gave us the confidence to launch our next line of products, a trio of serums addressing the lifestyle factors that damage skin the most – lack of sleep, sun exposure and pollution.
Tell us about the future of your brand, where do you see yourself in 5 years time? In 5 years, we hope that our brand will be in major beauty stores all over the world. We are gaining a healthy traction and that’s important to us. It’s not about having a meteoric rise, but finding a pace that is sustainable. We also hope to continue increasing our digital presence beyond our shores. Skincare is an ever-evolving field. There will always be innovative new techniques to learn and ingredients to discover. Sometimes, we find ourselves taking a leaf out of other fields too, like Ayurveda and TCM. I hope that I will always retain my ‘rookie mindset’, which I think is the ability to see things with fresh eyes, and believe that anything is possible.
Tell us about creating your product – using superfood in skincare and sourcing quality ingredients? One of the things I’m most proud of about Rooki is that we are a pioneer in using Asian superfoods. For example, our brightening serum Sun Eraser Glow Drops is actually made with Starfruit, a popular tropical fruit from South East Asia. Many of our ingredients hail from Asia. Even the Chardonnay Grapes we use in our hydration serum, Circadian Fixer Hydro Drops, come from Japan. We get them from an award-winning vineyard in Nagano that is surrounded by mountain peaks and harvested at an altitude of 650 meters.
The Peach Juice we use in Anti-Pollution Nano Drops comes directly from the Yamanashi Prefecture, a place that is also known as the Kingdom of Fruit in Japan. Since our lab is based in Japan, we try to use as much of their local produce as we possibly can. This is how we ensure the origins and quality of our ingredients.
Hayley tells us about what she has learnt on her journey to build the brand, her inspirations and how she gives back to the community.
Tell us about milestone moments, mistakes and learnings? One of my biggest milestones is having my brand stocked at Design Orchard. It makes me feel proud that we were one of the few brands chosen to represent the best of Singaporean design. Ever since starting Rooki, I have learnt so much. Starting a business is like holding a mirror, it exposes both your weaknesses and strengths. One weakness I had to overcome was my impatience for results. But I quickly learnt that in skincare, speed comes at a price. A good product can take years to develop, and if a product is developed too fast, there are likely corners being cut.
What’s the best advice you’ve received? I enjoy meeting new people and most of them are kind enough to give me great business advice. But the best advice I ever received was from my partner. I was having a difficult day and naturally I complained to him that running Rooki was too hard. Without skipping a beat he told me “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Everyone would run their own business, and be their own boss.” That changed my perspective because it made me realize that I should be thankful that it is not easy, because it serves as a natural barrier to entry.
Tell us about who or what inspires you? Sabrina Tan of Skin Inc is someone who really inspires me. She was the first to prove that a Singaporean skincare brand could make it globally. I read about how hard she worked on Skin Inc for 7 years before she got her big break with Sephora. She never gave up on her concept.
We’re inspired by how Rooki gives back. Tell us about Rooki’s social contribution? Whenever we can, we try to use sustainable ingredients that support local farms from nearby regions in Japan. For example, the organic matcha used in our award-winning cleanser Honey Matcha Cleansing Drops actually comes from a family-owned farm in Kyoto. The founder of this farm believed that his own poor health was due to contamination of tea, which is why he decided to make tea the natural way, with no pesticides. We are always on the lookout for unique ingredients grown using environmentally friendly and sustainable practices.