#Soulpreneurs: Interview With Ashley Yong From Two Halves

This Mother’s Day, we explore local skincare brand Two Halves’ journey into the industry as a mother-daughter duo.

Ashley, the younger half of Two Halves, shares with us about her mom as a key inspiration in her life since her childhood days. As a skincare veteran who’s been in the industry for decades, mom Jo Yong knows the tricks of the trade and what goes on behind the scenes, which was also what motivated them to start their eco-friendly luxury skincare line for sensitive skin. More than a mom, she’s also Ashley’s mentor and muse, being a constant source of encouragement in work and family. Our interview with her today sheds light on the reality of beauty entrepreneurship as a young mom, and how growing up with a nurturing, driven woman in her life has shaped her into who she is today.

Tell us a bit of yourself and what inspire you to be part of Two Halves?
Hi! I’m Ashley and thank you for having me! I always knew that I wanted to be like my mom who spent most of her career in the beauty industry but little did I expect that I would end up running our own brand. I was tired of the rigid working environment I had previously at the bank and felt like I wanted to try something new. I chose to start a new brand instead, as I wanted to experience starting from scratch and the creative side of the beauty industry.

What does a typical day look like?
My baby wakes me up about 8am, so I have to feed and change him first. Then I grab a cup of coffee and start working on the marketing and creatives because I find that my mind is a lot more spontaneous in the morning and I get better ideas out. I do the more mundane things like packing and logistics in the afternoon because I tend to get sleepy then and physically doing something keeps me awake.

Favourite part of your job?
My favourite part is definitely working on new formulations and seeing it through to launch. The most satisfying feeling has to be is when our users tell us they love the products!

Most challenging part of doing the business?
Not having answers. Of course, I can’t complain because my mom does provide a lot of guidance when it comes to brand management. However, conceptualizing and developing a product from scratch is still a very new thing to me. Thankfully, our labs are very patient with me.

What do you envision your brand to be?.
When Two Halves was first created, I spent days deliberating on the types of skincare products that we could offer as I knew that the competition was stiff. Beauty brands and companies constantly launched new products, touting latest manufacturing techniques or patented ingredients. As Two Halves is a start up, it would have been unrealistic to believe that we could compete at that level to consistently push out new formulations and products. 

Therefore, our inspiration and now goal, was and is to provide consumers consciously and ethically formulated and manufactured skincare.

What does success mean to you?
Waking up with a goal everyday. I’d hate for the day to come where everything I do is just for the motion.

How do you motivate yourself?
I celebrate the wins, no matter how small. Fridays are usually reserved as date night, so I really look forward to ending the workweek with a good meal and some quiet time with my husband.

What’s your morning routine or daily ritual?
Putting on skincare and makeup is really more of a ritual to me, and after I’m done, I feel like I’m ready to take on the tasks I’ve set out to do that day. Though, I don’t really have the luxury of time nowadays with a newborn baby, I do try my best to not rush through it by keeping it simple. I also need at least one cup of coffee a day!

Things you wish you knew before starting your entrepreneurship journey?That it will not be a bed of roses. My husband jokes that he’s never seen me work so much and so hard before (we met in University!). I knew it was going to be challenging but it turned out a lot more than what I expected. If I knew, I would also have also paid more attention to classes during my Mass Communication diploma, the skillsets do come in quite handy.
What’s your advice to those who aspire to be an entrepreneur especially those who’s into natural and sustainable business?
Don’t sweat the small things and always look at the big picture. The excitement of starting a business usually dies down really quickly, and the uncertainty will cause occasional fear and anxiety. Even if you hit a roadblock, just keep going at it and you’ll eventually look back and how far you’ve come.
What’s your must-have self-care essentials?
Exercising! I don’t particularly like to exercise but I always look forward to a class of Reformer Pilates. I find myself recharged with a clearer mind after every class.
What’s your favourite books/podcast/music that you live by? (If you have any)
I love watching Ted Talks, my favourite is “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator” by Tim Urban.
As we’re featuring your interview during Mother’s Day, could you share a message for your mom and how did she inspire you?
Growing up, I’ve always looked up to my mom because not only does she have a successful career, she is also very much involved in the family. And she does all this, while looking fabulous.  
My mom also did not hesitate to bring me to her work events, so I was given great exposure to what her job entails.  It was only when I started working part-time at the office did I begin to have a clearer understanding of the behind the scenes of a global beauty brand. I’ve always told people ‘my mom sells lipsticks’ so I’ve always associated her with the beauty industry for as long as I can remember. I’ve had the perception that she held a fun and exciting job. She travelled a lot and always had a cupboard full of products, of which she would allow me to pick out some to try.
My mom has always stressed the importance of looking good. She spent a great deal of time doing her hair and make up everyday and it was always a joy popping into her room to watch her do her daily rituals, at the same time, hoping she would present me with a new product to try (which happened quite often!). She spent her weekends doing facials and her hair and nails and I was lucky to have her bring me along for treatments. It was also the time we bonded and she would share with me the latest trends and happenings in the beauty industry.
So I’m very thankful to have found a friend and a mentor in my mom!