Theresa Beauty: A Mother-Daughter Team of LadyBosses

Theresa Beauty Theresa Ong and Sandra Koh
Theresa Beauty Theresa Ong and Sandra Koh

As a Mother’s Day special, LadyBoss decides to feature a Mother-Daughter entrepreneur team, Theresa and Sandra of Theresa Slimming Beauty Spa.

Starting from renting a humble two-bed treatment room from a hair salon in Ang Mo Kio, Theresa Beauty has grown to 8 outlets across Singapore and Malaysia. Mdm Theresa still likes to take a personal approach to her customers, she is still often seen in the salon, mingling with customers and sometimes even giving long-time customers her personal touch with her signature facial.

When asked about how they have been able to maintain so many outlets, Theresa mentioned they have a pool of loyal customers who have been following them for many years.

“Some of our longest customers are 80+ year old grandmothers. It’s really satisfying to know that some of our customers have been with us from day one until now and some bring their daughter and even grand daughters along for treatment”, Sandra said with a smile. It’s a strong testimonial of their commitment to their clients.

Love For Beauty

For Mdm Theresa, she had a love for beauty since young. Having pimple problems drove her to learn more about beauty from magazines to testing home made remedies and learning about beauty treatments as well as nutrition. Mdm Theresa even went to Japan to take a Diploma in Professional Beautician Training Course. When she started Theresa Beauty in 1981, it was her first business as well as first job.


“It’s really satisfying to know that some of our customers have been with us from day one until now and some bring their daughter and even grand daughters along for treatment”


The first was just enough for 2 therapists and 5 years later, they expanded their operations. It wasn’t until 1993 when Theresa Beauty had accumulated enough profits to go into rapid expansion. During the years of expanding the business, Mdm Theresa continued to travel to Europe, Japan and USA to learn about new beauty techniques and upgrade her skills.

While the business was growing, Mdm Theresa married and had Sandra as well as 2 boys. Sandra joined her mum in the business about 5 years ago and has been instrumental in revitalizing the brand with a new look and feel. She also conceptualized an aesthetic clinic and travels extensively to beauty centric countries like France, Italy, Hong Kong and South Korea regularly to gain inspiration and sourcing for new services.


Theresa Ong and Sandra Koh
Theresa Ong and Sandra Koh


We speak to Sandra about her story and experience as a 2nd generation businesswoman.

Do You Feel That You Have Been Groomed to take over the business?

“I was definitely not ‘forced’ to be in the business, as I love the beauty treatments business and just felt a natural inclination. I pretty much grew up in the beauty salon, I celebrated my birthdays in the salon and followed Mom whenever she goes to work. You can say I was trained from young as I had the same pimple problems and quickly learnt what was required to deal with it.

I was always fascinated and I would run around the store, curious to know what was happening. I would even speak to the clients and therefore learning client servicing skills from a young age. I love engaging customers, so I definitely don’t see myself behind the desk.”


What Were The Expectations of You When You First Joined the Business

“When I first just joined people may think that I am just a princess who will slack around, being the daughter of the boss. In fact, it is even harder for me as you have to somehow prove to the staff especially senior staff that you are worth your salt.  It took a lot of time and effort to gain everybody’s respect, I work very hard and longer hours than most people do. Eventually, I earned the respect to manage the staff. The first year was definitely not easy, but going through it helped me gain more maturity and experience.”


What Sets You Apart From Other Beauty Spas?

“I believe that the approach to beauty is both internal and external. At Theresa Beauty, we believe in ‘organic slimming’, which adopts a completely natural and organic way to slimming. Our services such as weight loss detox and juice cleansing are some of our key strengths.

In the beauty industry, a lot of things are done manually using pen and paper, which is inefficient and tedious to keep track of. In the past, people are more into spa relaxation treatment and it was more relational so customers took their time. These days, many people are busy and have less patience, so we have to be effective and fast.We have clients that want to come in for treatment and then get out right back to work. We worked with Spring Singapore on integrating technology into our process, increasing our productivity tremendously.


“When I first just joined people may think that I am just a princess who will slack around, being the daughter of the boss. In fact, it is even harder for me as you have to somehow prove to the staff that you are worth your salt.


“Beauty services is very competitive and these days we focus a lot on innovation, new treatments to introduce and finding the best products so that our client can get access to the latest beauty trends globally. Many clients also want fast visible results as opposed to waiting for a long time, so we have treatments that cater to this group of customers.


Sandra Koh
Sandra Koh with Theresa Beauty products


What Are Some of the Main Challenges You Face at Theresa Beauty?

“Training and hiring people is a primary challenge for us being a service based industry. We have over 60 people in our workforce and we have to constantly train and upgrade their knowledge and skills. Some of our staff has followed us for many years with some being 50 to 60 years old. It’s definitely not as easy to get them to adopt new technologies and practices. Also, our staff is like family to us, so we also try to help them if they have family issues.

In general, beauticians are not given due respect as a profession locally, therefore it’s harder to hire locals. However, it is not an easy issue to address as it’s been in the culture for so many years. It’s also made worse by some self declared beauticians who sometimes engage in services that are unacceptable, degrading the perception of the beauty industry.

As a whole, I believe the level of customer service in Singapore needs to be improved and being recognised as a profession is a step toward creating more pride in their work and therefore increase the level of service.”


Where Do You See Theresa Beauty in 5 to 10 Years Time?

“Theresa Beauty has been around for a long time and we hope to make use of the established brand to do franchising. We have grown organically over all these years which is great, but limited by the amount of capital we have. Franchising is a great way to achieve scale with the business. We also would like to be more focused on products rather than just servicing. We would like to go into product distribution and sell our products to other salons. That way, our growth will be less constrained by physical space and labour.”

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