A longtime sufferer of a skin disorder, it was a no-brainer when Joy Yap launched a natural organic beauty company called Wyld Skincare.

With a strong background in marketing and a fascination for natural skincare ingredients and eco-friendly products, Yap decided to turn her passion into a thriving internet-based business two years ago. Today, she has sold close to 500,000 konjac cleansing sponges infused with French pink clay and charcoal, which gently exfoliate all skin types.

We recently caught up with the busy Toronto-based entrepreneur and exporter, who offered insight into her daily routine and the challenges and rewards of being a small business owner.

Snapshot: The daily life of an exporter

For many, living in a wired world means checking your phone the minute you wake up in the morning. But my morning ritual consists of a cup of tea, meditation, a healthy breakfast and then I look at my emails. My day is filled with activity, so I try to set the right tone when I wake up. I’m not really a morning person and I’ve learned to accept that without feeling guilty.

I live close to my office: a 15-minute bike or streetcar ride. I usually arrive at noon to the office and work till 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. and then another hour or so after dinner from home. I’m also often out and about for meetings around the city. My schedule is very full, which means I need to make time for myself in order to pack so much in my day. I go to yoga once or twice a week, but other than that, I love working on my business.

During the day, I tackle several priorities, including answering emails and inquiries from wholesalers and customers, liaising with suppliers and dealing with any stocking issues. I also oversee blog and social media postings and keep in daily contact with my formulator/chemists, manufacturers and freelancers around the globe on Slack.

While I work super hard, I believe in taking the time for yourself. I recently spent two months in Bali, Indonesia. Self-care is important. Think of yourself as the most important machine in your factory of life. Without me, there would be no business, so it’s important to work efficiently and take the time you need for yourself.

Wyld Skincare sponges and bath salts line bath tub rim

Tips for getting started and building your brand

Surround yourself with people who inspire you. Before you take the leap into starting your own business, make sure you connect with the right people, like a startup community and network hub. I launched my company in August 2016 and didn’t know everything, but I made a list in my mind, took free digital marketing, social media and design workshops and was as proactive as possible. 

I wanted to put my name behind a product that aligned with my values and of living an eco-conscious life with less waste and no single-use plastics.

Joy Yap  —  CEO, Wyld Skincare

Hire dependable freelancers. My company is growing so fast it’s scary sometimes. If you don’t hire the right people, it can affect the growth of your business. In the beauty industry, if you take your eye off the game, you become irrelevant quickly, so it is important to stay humble, and always be one step ahead. I look for team members who are creative-minded with a great work ethic. I hire freelancers or contractors. I’m in the process of building a dream team around the globe to help with marketing, operations and sales.

Fear is the no. 1 obstacle facing entrepreneurs. People are instinctively fearful of failure, of not being good enough or of being judged. It’s normal to feel those things and to have doubts. My recommendation is that if you want to achieve something, you must change your mindset and remove your self-limiting beliefs. As former U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Reach potential customers. I rely on word-of-mouth, influencers and social media to reach customers. The brand has grown organically, without any paid advertising.

Get inspired. I work from a co-working space called Project Spaces, a communal, open-concept work environment in Toronto, which has 300 members representing 200 different businesses. I love the atmosphere and have made new connections. On any given day, I’m surrounded by 30 to 40 people and we feed off each other’s energy. It’s a great collaborative environment. If I have a question pertaining to my business, I can often ask someone in the room, and they’ll have the answer.

Remember why you started. I was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and left home at age 19 to study in Australia and later worked in Singapore before coming to Montreal to study marketing at Concordia University as an exchange student. I fell in love with Canada and after my schooling was complete, returned to Canada as an immigrant. After spending 10 years working in marketing for several high-tech companies, including BlackBerry and Sony, I felt the time was right to start my own business and pursue my passions. After a lot of soul-searching, I narrowed down my choices, focusing on my keen interest in the natural organic skincare industry.

Throughout my life, I spent hours researching natural ingredients online and visiting specialty stores. With my educational and business background, I would scour the internet studying successful marketing campaigns and eco-friendly packaging of beauty products. I knew that if marketed correctly, I could launch my company with one item.

As a lifelong sufferer of a rare genetic skin disorder called ichthyosis, which is characterized by severely dry skin, I tried every solution when I was young to help soothe my dry skin and read everything I could on how the skin works.

It’s a horrible skin disorder. While I don’t have a serious problem any more, when I was a young child, I remember kids laughing at me. Growing up, I tried every chemical peel and exfoliant out there to make my skin look as normal as possible.

My parents were both entrepreneurs: They owned a chain of video stores and a karaoke bar and also ran a successful manufacturing company. My parents never had a 9-to-5 job, but wanted their children to take a more traditional path of getting a degree, a job and climbing the corporate ladder.

To own your own business, you have to love what you’re doing because you’ll be spending hundreds of thousands of hours on it to be at the top of your game.

Joy Yap sits on a step of a home surrounded in natural wood, stone

Ensure your brand has a greater purpose.

An avid diver, I became a passionate advocate of environmental conservation when I experienced the deterioration of the ocean.

I donate a portion of my sales to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization.

Pretty soon, we will be swimming in plastics rather than sea life. I love the ocean, it is the lifeblood of planet Earth and humankind and I want our company to do our part.

My motto

I believe that we all have a purpose on Earth; we all have a gift, something unique we are meant to give back to the world. It should be our life’s purpose to find what that is and go for it. It is with this belief that I created Wyld. Wyld stands for What You Love Doing and being a Wyld one means you’re uniquely you—fearlessly charting your own course in life and relentlessly pursuing what sets your soul on fire. I hope to inspire others to live fully the life that they truly deserve.