In 2019, Hoai Thu was in the last year of her college education, and the pandemic made it nearly impossible for anyone to graduate and immediately find a job. Having some previous experience with beauty products, Thu decided to become her boss by starting Coheli, an online beauty shopping service.
George from Onside Media had the pleasure to speak with Thu to discover the motivations and challenges that have helped Thu become the business owner she is today.
Kindly tell me a bit about the brand Coheli?
I initially thought of the idea of my own business in early 2019. The idea became more than just a plan at the beginning of May 2019, and I was even able to time the opening of the online store at the height of the pandemic.
Coheli rolled out the online store by focusing on multiple beauty products such as lipsticks, skincare products, and revitalization masks. Thanks to multi-channel marketing, the brand quickly became a reliable source of quality exclusive cosmetic products. Instagram for our brand accumulated over 900 followers in less than six months.
Not to mention all the other marketing channels, such as TikTok, where we have cooperated with influencers to produce promotional videos. Recently, Coheli was also able to set up a kiosk in Toronto Christmas Market where we could promote our products to visitors from all over Canada—making over 800 sales throughout the event and attracting multiple new customers.
I can’t imagine how difficult starting up your business during a pandemic is. Are there any challenges that come to mind when you think about it?
As you may have known, we are moving toward developing and distributing a new product, the exfoliating gloves. The material required for the production of these gloves is located in Turkey. One of the biggest challenges was finding the right supplier for your material. Due to the pandemic and multiple supply chain issues, Shipping and importing material from overseas was such a hassle.
After a few months of patiently waiting for cargo and finding the best methods to get samples transferred to Toronto, I’m glad to inform you that the product is now available for purchase through our Instagram page and websites.
It was also very challenging at first; making only a couple of sales a day was not a good morale boost for me at all. Everything felt like it was not meant to be at first. However, we persevere through the slow sales and steadily grow our client’s base. Coheli is a small business, and we love that; focusing on each customer and providing them with the best service has always been what we focus on.
We hoped to build a trusting relationship with the customer through the brand and provide them with the best services. We have also taken a multi-channel marketing campaign promoting the new product. Through tik-tok short videos and posts on other social media channels, we are hoping to bring the product closer to more customers in the future.
That’s wonderful. Can you tell me a bit more about your customer base?
Our primary demographic is currently young adult females, with a lot of support from the Asian communities of Toronto.
We have also successfully gained new customers through live kiosks and booths, with the most recent one being the Toronto 2021 Chrismas Market. We are looking forward to experimenting with different beauty products that can benefit a larger group of customers along the lines of comfort and relaxation.
It has certainly been a long three years since 2019. What advice do you give other people who might want to start a business just like you?
“If life doesn’t give you something, you have to reach for it.”
Like many other young people, I wanted to make something for myself, to be financially independent. During the pandemic, it came clear to me that despite the hardship that is the lockdown, and social quarantine, there is undoubtedly a market for a newer type of shop, which is online-based.
Combining that with the knowledge and understanding of the cosmetic business, I decided to become my boss. Sure, starting a business can be quite the work most of the time, but it does merit. I’m delighted that I decided to jump out of my comfort zone and try out a new direction in my life.
What is your vision for Coheli Beauty in the future?
A long-term goal of our brand is to help people better understand beauty and cosmetic products. From an outsider’s perspective, the different products and names can be confusing for multiple people to comprehend.
Therefore, many people have a stigma against make-up and beauty products. Through the development of our brand, we would want to make sure that the products we choose are simply straightforward and that all our customers are confident about their purchases. Our priority would still be to provide the best service for our customers and offer them the best service possible.
For more info kindly visit: Coheli Beauty
Author: George Tran is a St. Catharines-based freelance contributing columnist for Onside Media. If you have stories to share kindly email: – email@example.com