Homegrown brand Spa Esprit Group has 17 brands under its belt. Founder and CEO Cynthia Chua reflects on her relentless pursuit of success.
Cynthia Chua is a renowned name that rings familiar. As the Founder and CEO of homegrown brand Spa Esprit Group, it’s no wonder she has appeared on the front page of most media publications here. Spa Esprit Group has 17 beauty and food and beverage brands under its belt, including Browhaus, Strip, Tippling Club, Common Man Coffee Roasters, Forty Hands, and Bochinche.
Recognise all of these brands? Their collective national and international successes can be attributed to the tenacious lifestyle entrepreneur. The smartest thing Cynthia did throughout her entrepreneurial career was to trust her gut feel, as well as have the “passion to inspire and find the right team of talents with the same DNA to make our goals possible”.
Doyenne: You’ve been lauded as Singapore’s biggest lifestyle entrepreneur. How do you feel about that?
Cynthia: Happy and honoured, but we never rest on our laurels and will always be constantly striving to break new grounds and exciting offerings.
D: How does Spa Esprit Group’s customers look like?
C: Fun, curious and savvy. Our customers are looking not only for top notch treatment but also an experience and sense of discovery.
“Even when I am out and about, I am constantly getting inspirations but enjoying myself at the same time. I love seeing my vision comes to life and changes the lifestyle landscape of the city, and how the consumers enjoy our offerings.”
D: When you started the business, was it easy to get investors on board a girly, beauty-oriented business?
C: It’s always easy on hindsight but the honest truth is, it was never easy to get money from people. We are talking about 1997 when there was hardly any energy in private equity funds in beauty in Singapore’s landscape.
D: Creating a quintessential Singapore brand and exporting it to Western and neighbouring countries is challenging, but you make it seem easy.
C: A positive mindset and having fun in what you do allows you to garner energy to reach the end point. That’s the kind of rhythm that I create for myself in order to get to where I want to be.
D: On the world stage, what is the real value of a “Made in Singapore” brand?
C: Made in Singapore to me reflects a quality and innovative product that fills the gap.
D: How relentless were you in your pursuit of success?
C: I love what I do. For me, work is play and play is work. It has never been a chore or something that is forced. Even when I am out and about, I am constantly getting inspirations but enjoying myself at the same time. I love seeing my vision comes to life and changes the lifestyle landscape of the city, and how the consumers enjoy our offerings.
D: Looking back at your entrepreneurial journey thus far, how would you connect the dots?
C: Passion, rhythm, tenacity. There are no shortcuts and to successfully grow a brand takes tons of hard work and dedication. It takes 10,000 man hours to make a brand work and to really learn and understand it.
D: In the year 2025, how would Spa Esprit Group look like?
C: Still breaking new grounds, creating impactful lifestyle movements, to positively impact the city’s cultural landscape.
D: Were there any valuable takeaways from your secondary school days that shaped you to become who you are today?
C: The sleeveless uniform did drive me to create a grooming business in Strip on hair removal!