Perhaps riding on the body care trend that’s popular amongst women with more time at home, a new local body scrub brand called sukurabu has popped up. What’s interesting is that the startup sells customisable body scrubs, meaning that customers can choose the level of coarseness their scrub would have, and what kind of scent they want from it.
Locally, you’d usually source scrubs from big global brands like LUSH, or find smaller brands in pharmacies, beauty stores, and online. But these commonly come fixed in terms of coarseness (depending on what is used) and scent, which can be tricky if you have sensitive skin or want to gift them to someone with such issues.
A passion project by a serial entrepreneur
sukurabu was founded by Jessie, a serial entrepreneur who was part of Boozeat’s founding team, founded coworking space Headspace in SS15, and operated a bakery within Headspace called MyPOPELINI to cover the premise’s losses due to the pandemic.
The tipping point leading up to her founding sukurabu came about when Jessie had a bad case of breakouts on her back and body scrubs available in the market didn’t work for her.
“I’ve never been able to find one that fits my personal preference in terms of ingredients, texture, scent, scrub types, and density level,” Jessie told Vulcan Post. Despite finding a scrub with the right texture, it didn’t sit well with Jessie that the exfoliants were made of microbeads.
Microbeads are extremely small pieces of material manufactured from plastic that are commonly used in personal care products. Once washed away in the water, microbeads may enter the food chain as they would be eaten by wildlife like fish, which will in turn be consumed by humans.
Thus began Jessie’s hunt for a manufacturer who could help materialise her vision of a product focusing on naturally derived ingredients that were organic and vegan.
A self-funded venture
Self-funded by proceeds from Jessie’s past startups, the scrubs are manufactured by an outsourced Japanese formulator.
It took Jessie about a year to develop the scrubs that suited her standards. She shared that her biggest challenge was in achieving shelf stability as the products were made from natural ingredients.
Jessie also idealised her scrubs to be a 2-in-1 scrub and shower gel, a differential feature from existing scrubs in the market. “Majority of them are either a standalone greasy or oily scrub, or a shower gel with 3% exfoliants, [which is] as good as no exfoliants,” she explained.
As sukurabu’s soft launch only took place in late August 2021, the startup doesn’t have too much data to share about its customer base. Jessie did, however, exhibit confidence in her product due to the positive feedback she’s received thus far.
“Passion for a great product speaks first. If the product is great, there will be a good audience. If there isn’t a great amount of audience, we’ll keep improving from any feedback to make it an even better product,” Jessie said, adding that sukurabu is her passion project and not a profit-first venture.
“We’re not here to promise beauty, but we’re here to deliver the promises of the beauty products.”
Jessie Chong, sukurabu founder.
Making my own scrub
To customise your scrub, you’d first have to choose your base scent, which can cost either RM140 or RM150 without promotions. There are currently 8 scents to pick from, with the majority falling under the fruity category.
Then, you’re led to a page to choose your scrub’s Foam Type (how many bubbles you want from its lather), Scrub Type (whether the exfoliant is coarse, medium, or fine), and Density (volume of exfoliants).
Each product comes with a description to give you an idea of what to expect from the chosen scent. However, what I think would be helpful from the site is if they provided pictures of the Scrub Types to show how fine or coarse the exfoliants were.
While images of the scrub’s textures can be found on sukurabu’s Instagram, not all customers may come from their social media pages. It would be more practical to showcase reference pictures of it on the site itself during the customisation process.
From there, the checkout process is standard with one addition, whereby customers can put in their names to have it labelled on the product’s packaging.
My sukurabu order took about 4 days to arrive. Upon testing it for an evening shower, I found the 2-in-1 scrub and shower gel product a convenient and thoughtful addition by the brand. Most body scrubs I’ve tried in the market tend to require the extra step of soaping after scrubbing, which can dry out the skin even more.
Using the scrub was quite a luxurious experience, and I can definitely say it elevated my skincare routine. If you’ve tried sugar scrubs before, sukurabu’s exfoliants (I got it in medium coarseness with medium density) felt reminiscent of that.
While I’m not personally fond of the product being packaged in a glass jar as it may slip and shatter, it does feel more premium compared to plastic packaging. Once the scrub runs out, the empty jar can be easily reused as well, which is one way that the brand is promoting reduced waste (whether intentionally or not).
Eyes on the global market
When asked if sukurabu would diversify its products to also offer customisable shampoos or lotions, Jessie shared that the customisation benefit will stop at body scrubs. It’s likely because there are already a few options for customisable shampoo and lotions out there such as Function Of Beauty and Kiehl’s.
But not offering customisation for those doesn’t mean she won’t create them at all. “We have in our pipeline lotions, body butters, and hand creams. It is currently at our final leg of iterations, and we’ll not launch anything until it is perfect and fills the product gap in the market,” she said.
Other than it being her first foray into the beauty industry, sukurabu is also a business that finally presents Jessie with a global audience. Her previous F&B and coworking businesses had their own limitations.
She explained, “Boozeat was restricted within Malaysia, MyPOPELINI was restricted within Klang Valley [as it’s] freshly delivered. Now with sukurabu, this is global delivery-friendly.”
Remaining an online business has its pros, but a lot of global brands end up opening physical stores to cement their brand presence in specific locations, such as LUSH with its worldwide stores.
Having a physical store would enable sukurabu to engage customers by letting them come in, smell, and test the scrubs themselves. However, it’s capital-intensive and not quite beneficial at its current scale and in the current pandemic, so it makes sense for sukurabu to strengthen its e-commerce strategies first.
If strengthening her brand presence locally is in her plans, perhaps Jessie could consider hosting a pop-up store at bazaars down the road.
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Featured Image Credit: Jessie Chong, founder of sukurabu
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