When Lynsey Lim concocted her first skincare products in her kitchen, she had no idea that her creations would one day be a must-have for consumers around the world, or that she would be behind the #1 bestselling lip scrub on Amazon.com.
The skincare devotee’s journey began in her early 20s, when Lim would make her products at home and give them to family and friends. These turned out to be such a hit that people asked to buy more when they had run out, and word started spreading about her formulas. It was this unexpected response that led her towards an exciting question: why not create a brand of her own?
In 2015, Lim quit her fulltime job as a banker and officially set up her own company, Handmade Heroes, discovering an in-born entrepreneurial spirit driven by a dedication to the clean lifestyle.
She started selling her all-natural, cruelty-free, vegan products in pop-up markets across Singapore, relying heavily on word-of-mouth for marketing and achieving sales. Soon, Lim learnt that many of the vendors around her were expanding their business with Amazon. That same year, Handmade Heroes set up its own Amazon shop, and she officially began to build a global clean-beauty brand, focusing on a vegan brand philosophy and an outstanding user experience.
When passion leads to success
Lim says her clean lifestyle was originally inspired by her mother, but became a true passion through her own personal experience. Both mother and daughter have sensitive skin, and Lim found that the fragrance in regular skincare products could be an irritant to their eczema. That’s why Handmade Heroes has used vegan ingredients with no added fragrance from its founding, as a base for the brand’s all-natural cosmetics, skincare, and even haircare product lines.
It’s also kept prices affordable for a growing audience of conscious young consumers who are concerned about animal rights and sustainability. "Back then, the natural skincare choices available on the market were so expensive," Lim said. "I didn't want the price to be a stumbling block for young people looking for natural vegan skincare."
According to the Business Research Company, the global vegan cosmetics market is expected to grow to be worth $22.63 billion in 2027, while independent research by Mintel predicts that by 2025, natural ingredients and personalization will dominate innovation in the global beauty industry.
Keeping its products both on point with consumer values and affordable has paid off for Handmade Heroes. In 2016, the brand’s Cocolicious Luscious Lip Scrub became one of the top 10 lip scrubs on Amazon.com. In 2019, it was ranked the #1 Amazon Best Seller in Lip Scrubs on Amazon.com, with over 18,000 reviews, where it has stayed up till today. In 2022, the brand’s dry shampoo also entered the top three in its category on Amazon.com.
Taking on the world
Once Handmade Heroes debuted on Amazon, the brand gained instant access to the global market, becoming available on Amazon stores in the US, Europe, Singapore and Japan. But scaling wasn’t easy. As sales grew, Handmade Heroes was faced with the challenge of expanding its operations. Lim and her husband could hardly meet the surging demand on their own. So in 2017, they set up a factory in Malaysia, transiting from a two-person team to a major professional operation in just a couple of years.
Lim also faced the pressure of ensuring that in this midst of this expansion, each of Handmade Heroes' products was halal-certified, GMP-approved, dermatologically tested, and as carbon-neutral as possible. To focus on perfecting her products and solving the day-to-day operational challenges of the business, she used Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA). Now, Handmade Heroes ships items in bulk to Amazon's fulfilment centers, freeing the brand from order picking, packaging, delivery and customer service. This helps Lim and her team to devote their energy to innovation and quality control, and improving their products according to customer feedback on Amazon—for example, since the climate in most parts of the US is colder than in Singapore, Handmade Heroes replaced the coconut oil in the lip scrub, which tends to harden in colder temperatures, with jojoba oil in the version for American consumers.
As shoppers become more sophisticated in their knowledge of active skincare ingredients and what works for them, the brand is also incorporating consumer preferences in its products, with the help of search keywords that are on the rise on Amazon. For example, with searches for ‘hyaluronic acid’ tripling since 2020, Handmade Heroes has included the ingredient in its lip scrubs, balms and masks.
From homemade to Hollywood
In 2020, the company hit seven-figure sales, and later that year, one Hollywood celebrity publicly endorsed Handmade Heroes’ lip scrub in a video. "If it weren’t for Amazon Global Selling, it would be quite unlikely someone like her would even know about a small independent brand like us,” Lim said. “Amazon provides a great opportunity for businesses to empower local companies to tap into international markets."
Today, Handmade Heroes is building its second factory in Malaysia and is looking to expand to overseas markets such as Europe, Australia, and the Middle East through Amazon—quite a feat for a brand that was born less than a decade ago, and one that is no doubt helping to shape a new “Made in Singapore” model on the world stage.