24 JULY 2018

MyStory: Michelle Ho – A Quest for a Kinder World

Not every business owner sets out to become an entrepreneur; some start out by solving a simple problem.

Meet Michelle Ho, founder of Kinder Soaps Sdn Bhd in Malaysia. Her daughter suffered from eczema from a young age. As a mother who also grew up with eczema, Michelle was uneasy with the presence of various chemicals in commercial body washes which served to preserve, color and fragrance the products, but did not have any particular skincare function. She wanted an alternative to what was on the market to help her daughter's skin condition, so she learned to make her own all-natural soaps as a start.

Family and friends became fans of the soap and as they asked to buy more of her homemade product, Kinder Soaps was born.

Challenges of Starting a Business

9 years later, Kinder Soaps has grown, producing and selling lines of handcrafted all-natural soaps and skincare products such as shampoo bars and moisturizers, online and in selected shops. The company also undertakes contract manufacturing work for other brands, being a steward of their formulations and producing them according to ASEAN Cosmetics Good Manufacturing Practices.

Catering to the needs of a growing market presented a host of challenges, however. One major challenge was ensuring compliance with local regulatory authorities, such as the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency. She not only needed the proper permits and licenses to sell personal care products, but because she wanted to maintain control over her production, she had to get her production premises audited and certified by them too. Then there were distributorship contracts, Non-Disclosure Agreements, Memorandums of Understanding to prepare for her clients. She tackled the issue the same way she runs every aspect of her business—with a DIY approach.

She found resources and adapted everything to her soap business. When Kinder Soaps started out, Michelle was downloading sample documents from the internet. As a conscientious business owner, she was uncomfortable with the risk of using templates that weren't legal and might not be enforceable in the Malaysian court system. With her enterprising spirit, she worked hard to ensure that she was familiar with every legal and regulatory guideline affecting her business and that she was compliant.

As she learned about the market, her business continued to grow.

Scalability

Michelle now sells Kinder Soaps products online and at boutique retail outlets. Beyond her focus on all-natural ingredients that are good for skin, she also reaches out to "zero waste shops" that promote reduced packaging waste in daily household consumables.

Michelle has a commitment to reduced environmental impact. Everything from soap production to sales revolves around a campaign on how to be more environmentally friendly. Though she faces fierce competition from big brand boutique soaps, her "naked" soap bars sold without wrappers, and the soap bars that come protected not by plastic, but with Kinder Soaps' signature beeswax cotton wrapping continue to set her products apart. As demand increases, maintaining the focus on socio-environmental impact remains a priority.

Michelle's ability to scale up the business and focus on environmental impact got a boost recently when she discovered ShakeUp's online legal document services which saved her time and money. As an active entrepreneur who manages her own back-office operations, she has been looking for an alternative legal services resource for years.

Kinder Soaps for Peace of Mind

Michelle considers herself "lucky" to have found ShakeUp's legal document template library and she can rest easy knowing that all her documentation is legally enforceable in the local court of law. Michelle has been using HR and employment document templates more recently, now that her business employs 4 part-time employees.


"I've been looking for alternative legal services for years...I'm glad that I found ShakeUp!"

-Michelle Ho, founder of The Kinder Soap Company


Looking ahead, Michelle intends to use documents like the Services Agreement template to support the growth in her business. With a solid production process, Kinder Soaps anticipates continued expansion in their contract manufacturing business to produce white-labeled soaps and other cosmetics items for other personal care brands.

With her paperwork in order, now Michelle can channel more of her time into product development and expand her distribution network further to reach her customers.

What started as a young mother's mission to provide her baby daughter with natural skincare products has grown into a company that makes the world a kinder, gentler place. Michelle's passion from day one for responsible, healthy living is what continues to shine and bring success to the business.

Message to Young Entrepreneurs

Michelle has found her foray into the world of business extremely fulfilling, but she has a message for other small business owners. "Spend the time to look into the legal and regulatory issues of your industry."

Michelle says. Her advice is to get the minimum viable product (MVP) out to the market quickly and at the same time zero in on proper documentation. She reminds young entrepreneurs that there are no shortcuts. You need to keep your nose to the grindstone.

She admits it took her three tries to get Kinder Soaps' premises to be accepted as being compliant with ASEAN Cosmetics Good Manufacturing Practices by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) of Malaysia. How did she put up with the challenges? Simple: "Keep trying." says Michelle.


"You need to be clear about the kind of difficulties and setbacks you are willing to put up with. Only then will you have the stamina and mental fortitude to know and do what is necessary for the good of your clients, colleagues, and community."

-Michelle Ho, founder of The Kinder Soap Company


For Malaysians considering a startup business like Michelle, she has paved a path to success through hard work and resourcefulness. An entrepreneurial spirit, personal determination, and a little help with legal documentation is a winning combo. If it worked for Michelle, it can work for you.


Be like Michelle and use ShakeUp! to help solve your business legal document needs. Try it now!

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