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Rising Through Resilience: “People who are resilient are not quick to give up when things are tough — instead, they accept their failures, learn from their mistakes” With Joyce and Jenny Tse, co-founders of Velvette

Resilience is the ability to get back up on your feet after falling. People who are resilient are not quick to give up when things are tough — instead, they accept their failures, learn from their mistakes, and try to find different ways to solve the problem. As an entrepreneur (especially building a luxury beauty brand), failure is imminent! We can’t stress this enough, but the journey of entrepreneurship is not an easy road, and there will be more times you fall than you succeed.

I had the pleasure to interview Joyce and Jenny Tse, co-founders of Velvette. Chemical Engineer Joyce and Accountant Jenny Tse are sisters, but they are also the Co-founders of Velvette. Ever since they were little kids, they were interested in beauty. Shocked at the number of filler and harmful ingredients found in beauty products on the marketplace, they created their own skin & hair care products in order to take full of control of what they put on themselves.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

Thank you so much for having us! We are Joyce and Jenny Tse, the Co-founders of Velvette. Growing up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada where winters are long and the weather is dry, we longed for a natural solution to our dehydrated, inflamed skin.

Jenny had a history of acne and sensitive skin and was initially reluctant to use oils, but together with Joyce, a Chemical Engineer, extensively researched and evaluated over 200 different plant oils, selected only 20, and created precise, bespoke designer oil blends for each skin type and application!

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

Everyday, new plans and changes take place and we have to be ready to react. It almost feels like we only have days to prepare every event, and shipping hold ups are the worst!

We launched all of our facial oils and body oils six months into launching Velvette. It was our first Christmas and we were rushing to get everything in place before all our Christmas events! We gave ourselves a month in advance for everything to arrive so that we could do photoshoots and have enough time to promote our new products, but our product boxes were stuck in customs!!

We thought, ah maybe it would delay it by a few days. But weeks passed, and still nothing. A month in, we were getting anxious since our first event was in a week! We finally got our boxes the day before our first event but that was a super close call.

There was a lot of other close calls throughout our business journey — from shipping companies losing $8000 worth of shipments, to having all our display props held at customs so that we had nothing to exhibit with at a show in LA, to other mishaps. It just comes to show that you can’t anticipate everything in advance, and as an entrepreneur you must be ready to react to any situation!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our oil blends feel like no other. Many people are reluctant to use oils to moisturize and replenish their skin and hair because they have only tried low quality, poorly formulated oils that are ineffective or feel sticky, and greasy. Our oils feel completely different — they are soft and leaves your skin feeling like velvet. We’ve been to trade shows and markets where there are hundreds of other competitor brands and skin oils that sell for cheaper or similar, but people who have tried our products will come back to purchase ours, because nothing else comes close.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Initially, we wanted to go with a purely online approach, but we didn’t see much traffic or sales on our website despite running video ads! We exhibited at a local market in Calgary, but only sold two products. We were discouraged and didn’t really know where to turn.

One day, we went camping not far from home, and the next day (smelling like campfire) we stumbled upon a cute artisan store called Project A in the tourist mountain town of Canmore. Project A carries one of a kind, handmade, artisan good that are made in Canada, and it seemed like the perfect fit for us! We were still a little stubborn to pursue a purely online approach at that time, but we decided to approach the store owner and see where it would take us.

This was when we met Jade, who offered us the opportunity to do a pop-up in her store a few weekends after! We were able to meet some of our earliest supporters through her pop-ups, and they were amazing practice for us in refining our pitch, and getting our products exposed to more people. We can’t thank her enough for all the other entrepreneurs she’s introduced us to and for her help in getting us started.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience is the ability to get back up on your feet after falling. People who are resilient are not quick to give up when things are tough — instead, they accept their failures, learn from their mistakes, and try to find different ways to solve the problem. As an entrepreneur (especially building a luxury beauty brand), failure is imminent! We can’t stress this enough, but the journey of entrepreneurship is not an easy road, and there will be more times you fall than you succeed.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

Elon Musk.

Against all odds, Elon has pursued his dreams endlessly to make them a reality. Paypal, Tesla, SpaceX — these are all things that have revolutionized society and are not for the faint of heart. He put everything he made in Paypal towards Tesla and SpaceX, ventures that almost seemed impossible and doomed for failure. SpaceX failed the first three launches, and Tesla almost went bankrupt. He stayed resilient, persevered, and turned them into the successes that we all know of today.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

Building a luxury beauty brand — we did it anyway.

We are constantly told by others that what we are doing is overly ambitious or sometimes even naïve. We are told that building luxury beauty brands takes millions of dollars and the backing of the rich and famous. While I don’t discredit this claim, as if we had known from the start we may not have gone down this path, but we’ve been continuing to hustle and explore different strategies and opportunities to try to find ways to succeed.

Yes, it’s true we feel stressed and often worried too — will we have enough capital to fund these new strategies? Are we going down the wrong road here, and should we focus on more stable ventures instead? We are tested emotionally on a daily basis, and its where being resilient is crucial to keep us from falling behind.

Our lack of starting capital and backing forces us to be creative and flexible and makes it more crucial for us to have a full understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

In 2010, our mom unexpectedly passed away from cancer. She was on her road to recovery, but her cancer suddenly came back. Jenny was still in university at that time, and she really struggled to finish her last semester of university. We were in a lot of pain and emotional turmoil, and it took us a long time to come to terms with it.

It’s been many years since, this experience helped us become stronger and more resilient. We wish she could be here with us, and we will continue to instill the values that she taught us in our everyday lives.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

We were born in Hong Kong and had to move to Canada at a young age. Having to adapt to a completely new culture and language was difficult for us — we missed our friends and family back in Hong Kong, and we were placed in ESL (English as a second language) classes in Canada. Having to build everything new from ground up really helped us become more resilient people.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

1. Acknowledge your failures — When we built a website but didn’t try to use other sales channels (ie. Making sales in person), we recognized that our ads weren’t working, and we had to try some new methods in order to gain sales. It takes strength to admit to failure.

2. Analyzing what you are doing right and wrong — We looked at our advertising and website analytics, reviewed what our competitors were doing, and realized that it was crucial for people to try beauty products which meant we had to meet potential customers in person. We didn’t have any website reviews yet since we had no customers yet, so we had to acquire customers in order to build up our credibility.

3. Doing small tests — We started off doing pop-ups at small local boutiques like Project A, where the investment was low.

4. Build on what works — As we realized that the pop-up model worked, we started exhibiting at more expensive tradeshows and markets, like Indie Beauty Expo in NYC.

5. Reassess, and try some new approaches as needed — We’ve found tradeshows and markets now to be a bit costly and not quite worth the investment. Now that our brand has more credibility and a wider customer base, we are trying to refocus our efforts towards online sales and social media.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Send a love letter to yourself! Try it!

Everyday we are bombarded with messages telling us we aren’t good enough. We spend so much of our efforts keeping up with everyone else and trying to focusing on external things. True beauty starts from within. Tell yourself you are beautiful. Tell yourself you are enough. Tell yourself you deserve all the happiness in the world, because you do.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)

We’ve said this many times on our interviews, but we’ve always wanted to meet the founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram & Facebook @LoveVelvette

https://lovevelvette.com

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