When The Body Shop began, it was one of the few ethical brands in the market. But as more beauty brands embrace sustainability in an oversaturated industry, can The Body Shop continue to excite customers while staying true to its commitment to become a force for good?
"I’m very happy that (our) competition is embracing sustainability," says Datin Mina Cheah-Foong, managing director of The Body Shop Malaysia. "This is because it really is part of what I truly believe in - my business to be a force for good. If we can influence other businesses by our successes and they copy us in terms of sustainability, cruelty-free, and in social responsibility - I’m really happy with that."
Cheah-Foong was responsible for bringing The Body Shop to Malaysia 35 years ago. The group now has 89 locations in Malaysia and 26 in Vietnam, with plans to enter Cambodia later this year.
I’m very happy that our competition is embracing sustainability
"We started in Vietnam about 10 years ago and we think Cambodia is about at the stage that Vietnam is at when we went in."
"The people are vibrant, young and they want to progress. I think we are going to have a fantastic time in Cambodia," says Cheah-Foong. The Body Shop Malaysia, through InNature Berhad, is planning an initial public offering on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia next year. InNature retails and distributes The Body Shop products through its subsidiaries Rampai-Niaga, The Body Shop Vietnam and Green Cosmetics - that holds the brand's franchises in West Malaysia, Sabah and Labuan.
"What excites me is the ability to reach out to more people so that they can join us on trying to be a business that’s good for the world. I don’t want to be the best business in the world. I want to be the business for the world. That is my personal motivation."
Whilst The Body Shop is a brand name synonymous with ethical trading and products that are not tested on animals, its advocacy efforts are not limited to those issues. In Malaysia, Cheah-Foong has championed issues ranging from HIV prevention to child marriage.
"There is this miasma of fear that keeps people away from doing anything good because there’s political risk, or a risk of boycott from customers, says Cheah-Foong when asked about the advocacies she's undertaken over the years.
"But in truth, customers support us. We offer a venue for customers to speak out because sometimes you can feel very alone and isolated by yourself. What can one person do? But if you’ve ever been in bed with a mosquito, you know what one little mosquito can do to you. So, you as a person, you have power and if you can’t do it by yourself, join a collective."
Watch the full interview with Datin Mina Cheah-Foong below: