How S’pore masks model Maskela earns over US$10okay a day

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Carol Chen is a lady powerhouse. She has built five different companies in four countries and is now on a mission to create “The Best Face Masks in the World” in our new pandemic reality.

Her newest store, Maskela, was quickly built out of her apartment just a week before the breaker launch in April 2020.

She made an effort to put everything together herself and today Maskela has grown into a global brand. The company ships to more than 15 countries worldwide and has made over $ 10,000 from just one day of online sales.

According to Carol, they are one of the first pure fashion mask brands in Singapore with the largest selection of over 100 designer styles that focus exclusively on fashion masks and mask-related products.

She recently signed a deal to sell her masks with American luxury retailer Neiman Marcus. This makes Maskela the first Singaporean mask brand to do this. Her masks have also been featured on A-list celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Sarah Jessica Parker, among others.

Lady Gaga wears Maskela / Photo credit: Just Jared

She always had a thing for fashion

At the age of seven, Carol was already making clothes for herself from blankets and safety pins. As a child, she spent all of her free time designing dresses or styling her siblings, so it was inevitable that she would graduate with a degree in fashion design

“I love fashion as a means of expressing myself and building trust, but I’m not a huge fan of trends or excessive materialism,” she said.

Growing up, she always felt insecure about her looks and abilities. She tried to overcome this by learning how to put together, giving everything she did, and constantly looking for ways to improve herself.

This eventually led to many confidence-building achievements, such as winning a beauty contest, which helped her gradually feel more comfortable in her own skin as she developed her personal strengths and identity.

Carol Chen Singapore Stories 2020Carol Chen wins Singapore Stories 2020 designs / Photo credit: Carol Chen

Last year, Carol won Singapore Stories 2020, a fashion design competition organized by the Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFF). The win gave her a runway debut at Paris Fashion Week, an exhibition of her designs at the Asian Civilizations Museum, and a retail opportunity at Asian fashion-focused societyA.

Just like she started Maskela, she entered the fashion contest with instant instinct. Although she has a background in fashion design and has been involved in fashion for most of her life, she is not a full-fledged fashion designer.

Praising her rusty design skills, she said that in Singapore she will face serious and talented fashion designers. Unimpressed, however, she created beautiful designs from upcycled fabric for the competition, which won the admiration and approval of the jury.

Together with Maskela, she has now launched her own label of the same name called Carol Chen.

A serial entrepreneur

Carol Chen Maskela founderPhoto credit: Carol Chen

Carol was born in the USA and came from an entrepreneurial family. So it was a natural step for her to be her own boss.

Their first store was a Los Angeles-based apparel brand that eventually closed due to the weakening US economy. The second was a cheerleading uniform company that is currently thriving under the leadership of its co-founder. Then there was a mixed martial arts (MMA) brand she made with her ex-boyfriend before they split.

It wasn’t always easy, but it wasn’t difficult either, as I have a high tolerance for risks and discomfort. All you need is an optimistic attitude, a lot of resilience, and a strong belief in yourself.

The starting capital can come from savings and investors, but I believe if you have a good business idea and willpower, your path will open and resources will help you.

– Carol Chen, founder of Maskela

She stated that the reason she pulled out of her safety bubble in her home country to start business in unfamiliar places was because she believed the world had so much more to offer.

Some moves were made out of love, some out of necessity, others just because she wanted a new adventure. There are so many great places and incredible opportunities around the world that she thinks it’s a shame just to stay in one place.

She moved to Singapore out of love, but eventually fell in love with the country itself.

She said the friendly, efficient and trustworthy regulatory and bureaucratic environment in Singapore is very conducive to starting and running businesses. Now she plans to have her companies based in Singapore for the foreseeable future.

Maskela apparently became an overnight hit

Shortly before Maskela, Carol ran Covetella in Singapore, a designer clothes rental shop where women can borrow and buy clothes or customize dresses. Unfortunately, Covetella had to cease operations since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She decided to close the showroom and focus on Maskela. Since the events were canceled last year, she argued that it made no sense for her to pay rent indefinitely if there was no demand for her services. In fact, she still has a lot of signature gowns in the warehouse that are left unused.

She recounted the birth of Maskela and said that when the pandemic started, masks were not mandatory, but she still wanted to wear one to protect herself.

Surgical masks were the only option at the time, and as a fashion fanatic, she was embarrassed to wear them because they were so unsightly. So she came up with the idea of ​​cutting up some of Covetella’s unused clothes to make aesthetically pleasing face masks.

Maskela from her living roomPhoto credit: Carol Chen

About a week later, Singapore announced the breaker and she struggled to get everything she needed to start a business out of her apartment as soon as possible.

During this time, all fabric shops and factories were closed, making it extremely difficult to find suppliers of raw materials and increase production.

Maskela has been one of the toughest businesses I’ve ever built because my home was stuck and the country was closing. But it still worked out of sheer will.

– Carol Chen, founder of Maskela

Then she hired three interns to work next to her from her living room. It only took her two months since Circuit Breaker to generate six-figure sales.

Maskela from her living room Photo credit: Carol Chen

They also had many corporate assignments that generated significant income. Property management company Frasers Hospitality ordered thousands of masks for all of their global hotels. Other well-known customers are Bulgari, Skin Inc, 1880, Design Orchard, TaFF, Tindle and Neiman Marcus.

Today Maskela is the most comprehensive single-brand mask that sells everything to do with masks: mask chains, mask clips, mask cleaners, mask filters and mask gift sets.

What made it so successful?

with a maskPhoto credit: Maskela

True to Carol’s commitment to building socially and environmentally responsible companies, just like Covetella, Maskela’s origins are rooted in sustainability. Their initial masks were upcycled from cutting up old Covetella dresses.

Even today, most of their styles are made from leftover fabrics, which means that once the fabric is finished, they will no longer be able to produce – this makes their limited edition masks really rare.

I had the right product at the right time. I was one of the first brands in Singapore to make fashion masks in March 2020 and I have worked relentlessly to make sure it is the best mask I can make in terms of quality, comfort and design.

I’ve also spent time building the brand myself so that it also has value. There are a lot of masks out there, but you don’t see many like Maskela, and our high rate of repeat customers proves we’re doing something right. We also wrap our masks like gifts to encourage people to buy them for their loved ones to keep them safe and stylish.

– Carol Chen, founder of Maskela

She also shared tips on her successful consumer product marketing strategies. The first is to create a superior product and service that speaks for itself. If people love it, they will market it for you through word of mouth.

The second is to launch a digital marketing campaign through social media, influencer engagement, content creation, and using traditional marketing strategies through public relations (PR) and partnerships

For Maskela, search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) were not available as options, as Facebook and Google initially banned everything related to personal protective equipment (PPE) so they had to rely on other creative ways to get their brand get out there.

She invested in hiring a reputable public relations firm in the US to have her masks worn by A-list celebrities and influencers. This is important to establish the image of a luxury brand for your target group.

It targets A-listers and the elite for higher profit margins that make their business more profitable.

Rise to the top luxury mask in the world

According to Carol, her goal for Maskela is to become the world’s leading luxury mask brand.

Bride luxury masksPhoto credit: Maskela

She plans to expand her offerings to a larger market and a wider variety of use cases, citing examples such as masks for men and children. She also wants to offer more bridal masks, mask accessories, as well as more customizable options. The list is endless for them.

Even after the pandemic is over, Carol believes people will continue to be health conscious. So they want to launch a range of hand sanitizers and travel kits, and incorporate other protective products like sunglasses.

Right now, Carol wants to do things step by step, but she has absolute confidence in herself that in due time she will know what to do as she has proven time and again.

“I put myself in situations where I know that I can shine. It’s difficult to do business so you have to play where you can win. To make up for my weaknesses, I surround myself with people who are better than me and try to learn from them, ”she mused.

Her advice to other women around the world who want to do their own thing is simple: start small and take one step at a time, but never wait until you feel “ready” because you will never be.

Just follow your heart and know that if it doesn’t work, it won’t be the end of the world – you will just have some good stories to tell. Don’t be afraid of failure, use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Life is short so you better do what you can while you can. I also believe that if you want to do something, you should do it well and do your best. Why else at all?

– Carol Chen, founder of Maskela

Selected image source: Carol Chen

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