Kelly Tan E Li
Manager, Sommerset Nails & Waxing, 2008
Diploma in Multimedia, Advertising & Broadcasting
Limkokwing University students are so diversified. I was able to meet so many students from various countries with different cultures and backgrounds. It definitely gave me the opportunity to meet new people and learn new cultures that broadened my outlook and perspective in life.
27 August 2008
Entrepreneur of Beauty
Written by Catalina Rembuyan
Located in the upscale and fashionable district of Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Sommerset is not your average beauty parlor. Beginning first as a nails parlor, Sommerset has since expanded to include various beauty procedures such as waxing and non-surgical facelifts. Catalina Rembuyan speaks to Kelly Tan, the industrious entrepreneur behind Sommerset.
For Kelly Tan, the enterprising 26-year old young woman behind Sommerset, beauty is not just something frivolous: it is an opportunity to earn money, express her personal creativity, and master the challenges of running her own business. Sommerset (Nails & Waxing), her brainchild, is one of the largest nail and beauty parlours in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur’s trendy and artsy upscale neighbourhood.
Beginning by working on the nails of her housemates and course mates while she was a student at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, Kelly has since gone on to better her skills in beautification by keeping close tabs with the development of beauty trends around this region, in particular beauty trends coming from Australia. Although Kelly only studied for one year as a student of Multimedia, Advertising and Broadcasting in Limkokwing University, she will always remember it as a place where she expanded her horizons.
“Limkokwing University students are so diversified. I was able to meet so many students from various countries with different cultures and backgrounds,” said Kelly. “It definitely gave me the opportunity to meet new people and learn new cultures that broadened my outlook and perspective in life.”
Setting up a business from scratch was not easy,because for my kind of business, location is important and it is crucial to identify the target market one is aiming for, so I had to make my investigations and market research properly
Transferring to Melbourne and studying there for three years, Kelly continued to pursue her interest in beautification by studying nail aesthetics professionally at the Academy of Nail Technology and the Melbourne Institute of Nails and Beauty. Returning to Malaysia, Kelly decided to launch her business, Sommerset Nails, now re-branded as Sommerset (Nails & Waxing), starting first with manicure and pedicure services but has since expanded to include waxing and non-surgical facelifts.
“Setting up a business from scratch was not easy,” confessed Kelly, “because for my kind of business, location is important and it is crucial to identify the target market one is aiming for, so I had to make my investigations and market research properly.”
Although the upkeep for a location in Bangsar was extremely high, Kelly felt that it was worth it as she is able to target the stylish, trendy and wealthy urban female market doing their window shopping or hanging out in one of the many luxurious restaurants and cafes in the square. Serving a wealthier economic bracket means catering to those with more discerning tastes, and Kelly meets that need by hand-picking each of the 300 varieties of nail lacquer available at her store.
Her meticulousness is not unrewarded as she won top placing at the Beauty Expo Australia in 2006 for the nails extension category. For Kelly, the Australian identity of the products used in her shop is important.
“Most brands in Australia use very natural and certain organic ingredients in their products,” she explained, adding that she never fails to make a trip to the Australian Beauty Expo in order to find out about the latest development and trends in the nails and beauty industry. “These international expos allow me to gain greater knowledge of the latest products and technologies available, while exchanging views with many top professionals in nail care all around the world.”
Apart from the attention given to the products, Kelly is also one of the few parlor owners who actually do ‘hands on’ work at her own salon. “I still love to do manicure or pedicure for my clients, even when it involves scrubbing feet,” she enthused, “It always makes me happy when I know my clients are happy, and receiving compliments makes my day.”
Kelly admits that as the nail beauty industry in Malaysia becomes increasingly competitive, beauty parlors are tempted to sacrifice the quality of their products so that they can offer lower prices to their clients. Kelly does not believe in sacrificing on quality for profit in the ongoing price wars.
Strive to achieve your dreams, never give up, and keep on going forward
Instead, she opts to expand her services to cater to the increasing demands of customers and introduce more attractive packages and promotions such as the Marine Spa Pedicure, the Aromatherapy Spa Pedicure, as well as unique services such as Brazilian and body waxing that caters to sensitive skin, eyebrow and eyelash tinting and customized nail extensions.
Kelly is confident that her business will continue to expand as she masters not only the various kinds of treatments in the beauty industry but also the tricks of running a business. What is Kelly’s advice for anyone who wish to be part of this industry?
“Strive to achieve your dreams, never give up, and keep on going forward,” she said.