21 JUN - 2022
“Rome is not built in a day, and in much the same way, building a business is a marathon.”
Born from a heart-tugging concern for her daughter’s skin condition, former accountant, Michelle Wang, became a qualified cosmetic chemist and clinical aromatherapist to create simple, clean and effective bodycare. Using seasonally sourced ingredients for their potency, Michelle hand-blends them in micro-batches to ensure the products are always fresh - Arithmos is truly the epitome of hand-crafted love.
While juggling a demanding job as an accountant during the day and burning the midnight oil to work on her beauty startup, all the while committing to set hours for quality family time, Michelle is a major inspiration for entrepreneurial mothers who not only strives, but does it all. From the hurdles she experienced to time management and tips on relaxation, Michelle gives us the lowdown on how she claimed such rapid success.
You used to be a very successful accountant working in the finance industry - what made you want to change industries and start a beauty business?
It was a lightbulb moment for me when I was trying to find a solution for my daughter’s skin condition. She used to constantly scratch her skin to a point that would leave scars on her body. I used to put so many products on her but I found the ingredients label to be very complicated, and nothing really worked. So I started researching botanical oils, attended skincare workshops on the weekend, and made a natural product that really healed her skin. I’ve found the body care products on the market were a bit of an after thought, so I decided to do further study to become a cosmetic chemist and clinical aromatherapist. And that’s how Arithmos was born in 2021.
What were the hurdles you experienced while launching Arithmos?
Brand awareness was definitely a challenge. The beauty market is very saturated, and people are overwhelmed with what they see on social media such as Facebook and Instagram. It’s about how to maximise the investment to gain traction to a large and engaged audience. Also, finding the balance with the investment to test and learn which channel(s) are the most effective in reaching the target audience. It’s a test and learning process.
Rome is not built in a day, and in much the same way, building a business is a marathon. People fell in love once they tried my products as they knew they weren’t buying into any ‘marketing.’ Knowing that there’s someone passionate behind the brand allowed for space to grow brand trust and loyalty - the consumers knew my main purpose was to simply create the best quality products I can.
I’m still juggling everyday - it’s a constant prioritisation and to be honest, I don’t think it has changed much since the start of Arithmos.
How did you juggle your full time role as an accountant while you worked on Arithmos? And now, how do you balance work and life as a mother of two?
Time management was so important, I wouldn’t say it was easy - a lot of sacrifices have been made. I would work on Arithmos at night after putting the kids to bed, most weekends, and when I was on holiday.
I’m still juggling everyday - it’s a constant prioritisation and to be honest, I don’t think it has changed much since the start of Arithmos. I think the only change is that the kids are a bit older now which means they are more self-sufficient around the house and help out with the housework at times.
5-8:30pm during the week is always family time, while weekend is usually getting the upcoming week ready and running between the kids’ sports commitments. The rest of the time, I’m usually working. I’m a very hands-on person, so I want to learn every aspect of the business and I think it’s important as a start-up.
Your products are truly clean and organic - how do you cut through the noise of greenwashing that is so prevalent right now? Do you have any advice for the conscientious consumer on how to choose the right beauty products?
I think the ingredients in beauty products need to make sense to you. Brands can do more to make their ingredients transparent and easy to understand. As it currently stands, even when a product has 0.1% of an ingredient, they still market and you’ll also see that a high portion of refined oils are still claimed to be ‘natural.’ I would advise that you try to look for products that are 100% natural with at least 90% organic ingredients. You know your skin is in for a treat when you apply only high quality ingredients.
As a clinical aromatherapist, what tips do you have for unwinding?
We live in a busy world with endless chords, we all need a moment to pause and take time out for ourselves. A simple ritual that is easy to do at home is a warm bath every night with a few drops of calming essential oil blends such as cedarwood, sandalwood, lavender and frankincense. You will be surprised what the aroma from the essential oils will do to your mind and body – it helps to rebalance your mind and feel instant relaxation. Don’t look at your mobile phone an hour before going to bed (this one would be hard for me too!).
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are hustling day and night to make their business work in this climate?
It’s important to have a mentor(s) who can give you the tips and tricks along your journey. Be prepared to pivot a lot as starting your own business is far from smooth sailing, it’s a constant test and learn process to understand what works and what doesn’t.
Where to from here?
I’m extending my range to include massage oils (with the same aroma as the superfine body oils) which sell exclusively to spa and beauty salon. I also have developed a new body care product that will be launched at end of this year!
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
My dad used to say to me when I was a young kid that “on a good day, you need an accountant, on a bad day, you also need an accountant.” I think it had a big impact on me in choosing to study accounting at university, and I worked as an accountant for the past two decades. The skills have given me a great foundation in life and helps me so much in running my own business.