Building a Beauty Brand with Rooki Beauty’s Hayley Teo

As the founder of Rooki Beauty, Hayley Teo knows a thing or two about building a business. She finds pockets of time to rest and play throughout the day, does what she can, and accepts what she can’t. This philosophy of working with what you have, instead of against them, also shines through in the superfood-fuelled skincare products she develops at Rooki.

Ahead of Rooki Beauty’s collaboration with Sunday Bedding, we caught up with Hayley to find out what it’s like to found and run a skincare brand, and why there’s no beauty without sleep.

Hayley, the brains behind Rooki's brand of superfood-fuelled skincare. Image c/o Hayley.

Hayley, what does a typical day in your life look like?

Like most entrepreneurs, there's never enough time in a day to do everything that needs to be done. My day typically starts with a nice breakfast shake to get me full. I usually plan out my agenda for the day in the morning, and I always use paper to-do lists. It just makes everything feel so much more concrete and “real”.

The first thing I do when I reach the office is check in with everyone and make sure that we are on the right track. Now that half my team is working from home, it's even more important for all of us to align our tasks. I typically take calls or have meetings with retailers or partners in the afternoon. I'm happy if I can complete even 30% of my to-do list by the time evening rolls around. Some days are so busy, I don't get to tick anything off my checklist.

I usually head home around 8pm, and I'm always excited to go home because I get to play with my newly adopted cat, Garfield. He's a 2-year-old ginger tabby that we found roaming the streets. I used to be less concerned about going home early, but now I’m excited to go home every day. I wind down by doing my nighttime skincare routine. Thrice a week, I use my Green Pulp Paste Masque — it's just the best for revitalising my tired skin.

Having Garfield around has made Hayley more excited to head home from work. Image c/o Hayley.

Hayley's favourites for rejuvenating skin after a long day. Image c/o Hayley.

It's been two years since you founded Rooki. What's the biggest lesson you've learned from building a skincare brand?

I think the biggest lesson would be that owning a skincare brand requires not only hard work, but also an eye for the market. Truth is, hard work can only get you so far. Knowing how to grow a brand and stay relevant takes a certain kind of skill. You need to have a rookie mindset and see things from fresh perspectives. My advice is to hire young blood. They're naturally creative.

I used to believe in work-life balance, but now that I'm older, I realise that work-life integration is a more realistic path. There's just no shutting off for me, so I don't keep trying to achieve the impossible. I find pockets of time to work and to play, instead of feeling that those two things are opposing forces. They're not. At the end of the day, I rest the easiest when I feel fulfilled.

Hayley's bedside essentials. Image c/o Hayley.

What's the process of developing a product like?

Developing a product is an exciting but tiring process. We're a small company, so everyone gets involved! We conceptualize, research, test, and source. One of my favourite products is the Camelina Omega-C Brightening Fluid, a facial oil that is suitable for folks with oily skin. I set my team a challenge to develop a facial oil that could suit our humid climate. It was not easy, but luckily we had consumer testers who helped us out. One of them even sat at a bus stop for 20 minutes just to test if it would feel greasy. After a few rounds of trial and error, we are proud to have developed a facial oil that is light, comfortable, and completely wearable even in the summer heat!

"At the end of the day, I rest the easiest when I feel fulfilled."

Rooki focuses on simplicity and the power of its superfood ingredients. What are your top three ingredients, and what do you think is the most underrated ingredient?

My top three ingredients are definitely arbutin, ceramides, and matcha. Arbutin comes from the discarded branches of Japanese pear trees. It's my favourite amongst all the brightening ingredients for how effective and non-irritating it is. Ceramides are fantastic as well. They're like the glue that holds your skin together.

Another favourite ingredient is matcha. We get our matcha from a family-owned farm in Uji, Kyoto, that is known for natural cultivation. They don't use pesticides and their matcha is top notch. You can tell by its shade — it’s intensely green, which indicates that it contains extremely high levels of chlorophyll.

The most underrated ingredient is probably superoxide dismutase. It's an advanced antioxidant with really compelling skin benefits, but most skincare users probably wouldn't have heard of it!

How do you think skincare and rest come together?

The goal of skincare is to have great skin, right? But having great skin takes more than just skincare. You need a good diet, a good mental state, and sufficient rest. In fact, good sleep is probably half the formula for good skin! The skin does a lot of repairing when you sleep. The time at which you sleep is also very important — the skin regenerates between 10pm and 1am, so it’s best to sleep before 11pm. We need to learn to respect our natural circadian rhythm.

Garfield trying to have a snooze — he takes his cat naps seriously! Image c/o Hayley.

There's a lot of information out there about different skincare products and steps, and it can get so confusing! What advice would you give to skincare rookies?

Learn to read the list of ingredients in each product, and build your skincare routine based on that. In general, you can't go wrong with hyaluronic acid, ceramides and amino acids. They're an essential part of your skin's make-up, so start with those ingredients first.  

Don’t forget! We’ll be including mini Superfood Saviour Cremes from Rooki Beauty with the first 300 Sunday orders in October 2021 to help you refine your beauty sleep routine. Order from Rooki Beauty in October 2021 and you’ll also receive a special token from Sunday Bedding.

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