Hann Chia, founder of Fawn Labs
When it comes to beauty products, we want what’s best for our skin. This could mean opting for products with natural ingredients, or ones that are free from toxins. Buzzwords such as ‘all-natural’, ‘preservative-free’, ‘organic’, ‘vegan’ might have been designed to catch our eye, but one look at the ingredients list of such products might tell a different story. While it might be more helpful to look out for specific toxins to avoid, like parabens and phthalates, it can still be difficult to navigate through the waves of greenwashing in the beauty industry.
So why spend time trawling through shelves of beauty brands scrutinising ingredients lists when you could just make your own skincare products with full knowledge and control over what goes into them? This is where Fawn Labs’ clean beauty workshops come in.
Contrary to popular belief, clean beauty products are not chemical-free, because everything, including water (or H2O), is a type of chemical. The beauty industry has placed so much emphasis on chemicals being bad that we tend to forget that there are good chemicals too, like potassium and zinc. As such, Fawn Labs focuses on beauty products with ingredients that are good and efficacious for your skin, but don’t cause harm to your health and the environment.
In the next part of our series with Singapore Tourism Board, we speak with Hann Chia, founder of wellness and clean beauty brand Fawn Labs, who shares about her own journey with clean beauty and the unique workshops she hosts within a shophouse in Tanjong Pagar.
What’s the inspiration behind Fawn and Co.?
It was actually a health scare about six or seven years ago. I was suspected to have tuberculosis, but even after four or five courses of antibiotics, it didn’t go away. The doctor gave me one last course of antibiotics and told me that if two weeks later, the infection is still there, they’d have to admit me as a confirmed case. I became desperate, and approached a family friend who had been introducing some natural botanical extracts to my sister’s kids.
I never used to believe in alternative medicine, but I gave it a try. Two weeks later, when I went back for my X-ray, my lungs were clear—they showed zero signs of infection, and it was as if I never even had it. To this day, nobody can understand whether it was their last course of antibiotics or a combination of what I did. But since then, I started thinking more about my health.
I tried to eliminate as much toxins from my life as possible, making stuff to use myself. I don’t really trust the big brands anymore. In the five years I began using more natural products, I saw a difference in my health. After that, I wanted to approach it more from a scientific, less DIY perspective, so I got a diploma from the UK in organic skincare formulation, and with the diploma, we started up Fawn and Co.
How has Fawn and Co. grown since then?
Because of my previous jobs, the contacts I had started to learn about what I started up. I received requests to conduct workshops, and to speak at this American company who then engaged Fawn and Co. to run workshops for all their members in Singapore. I was even supposed to go into a partnership with them to start a raw beauty school.
But then came COVID, and because of that I realised that there’re a lot of misconceptions about DIY products to do with wellness and beauty. I was especially infuriated when I realised that there were a lot of essential oils and MLM companies teaching people how to make sanitisers, because I could tell that these sanitisers were not going to kill any virus. So we became very outspoken about that. I wrote an article, went viral on the news, and a lot of news sites picked it up.
Can you tell us more about the workshops you conduct?
We have our Clean Beauty X Fawn Labs workshop where you learn how to safely handle equipment and ingredients, and make two toxin-free clean beauty products—a gel mask or face wash, and a light moisturiser or serum. We also have our Clean Days X Fawn Labs workshop where you learn how to make toxin-free, plant-based bath bombs and foaming body washes. We also have our Little Herbalist and Little Wizard camps for children, where they get to learn about either plants, fruits, and flowers or magic and wizardry. In both of these camps, the children will get to make their own bath bombs and body washes.
We use actual skincare ingredients from actual suppliers. When you come to Fawn Labs, even if it’s a children’s workshop, everything you make is actually properly formulated in a way that is equivalent to, or as I like to believe, better than store bought products. We are very passionate about education, so when you come in, you really learn.
If you have attended our Community (Clean Beauty X Fawn Labs) workshop, you can come back for Open Labs. With Open Labs, you don’t pay for the workshop, you basically just pay for your product. All the ingredients are provided for you and then you make them with my guidance.
You also provide bespoke consultations for customers. Can you tell us what that experience is like?
There are two types. The first is a group class. Before the class, they fill out a form and share their skin type and concerns. Then, they’ll make two products based on that. We have a guarantee: if doesn’t work, especially for people with sensitive skin, we’ll reformulate.
There have been two cases where customers experienced irritation. I picked out one ingredient that I thought was causing the problem, replaced it, and there were no issues after. What’s powerful about this model is that people discover what they’re allergic or sensitive to, so when they go out, they buy with more confidence. We find this class very popular with people with acne, sensitive skin types, and groups of friends.
Then we have another group for people who don’t really want to make their own products. They’ll go through an hour’s consultation with me, where we chat about their lifestyle, habits, and preferences. After that, I walk them through some ingredients, letting them smell and feel them. We’d recommend three products which we’ll formulate and ship to them within two weeks. That is definitely more exclusive.
What is something that has encouraged you as you continue to grow your business, and what are you excited about?
A lot of times, people don’t know if the products will work, because they’re natural ingredients, right? But the moment they experience it, people tell me, “You changed my life”, and that’s been very encouraging. You don’t have to take very extreme measures to change or improve your skin: it’s just about using the right products for yourself.
One thing that we’re very excited about is our children’s camps. Some days, we’re exhausted after the camps, but when I send videos to the parents every night, the responses that we get are really encouraging. We started these camps as a fun thing to add on to our suite of offerings, but we’re enjoying them so much that we’ve decided to expand on this as part of the business now.
This series was produced with the support of the Singapore Tourism Board’s SG Stories Content Fund Season 2. View more stories here.