In an announcement that took the local beauty scene by surprise, Chryseis Tan, Kim May Chee, and Tan Boon Yao unveiled Glowhouse: a city-dweller’s pitstop to get their glow on amidst the metropolitan hustle and bustle. Debuted in April 2023, it’s unmistakable—this has been something many have been waiting for.
What is Glowhouse? It’s a place where you can clock in some pilates at Tone by Babel, sip on quality coffee at Lumi Cafe while you peruse skincare and lifestyle selections from its eponymous beauty brand, get your hair washed and styled, and get your nails done at COCOdry. Yes, all that in one fell swoop. This puts Glowhouse completely in a league of its own.
Beyond that, Glowhouse is also a deeply personal collaboration between the three of them. Playing the role of the mastermind behind this grand idea, Chryseis also brings prime real estate to the table: Platinum Park. “There’s nothing like this in the city. It’s all business and work in KL, so I wanted to introduce some fun here,” says the serial entrepreneur.
Friends with Benefits
It is very much kismet that brought the business to life. Boon Yao and Chryseis met in London while pursuing tertiary education, and now, they are family friends. They are also loyal customers at COCOdry—that’s how they were introduced to Kim—and from then on their friendship bloomed.
With years of kinship behind them, this was a no-brainer move, and even more so when they are huge believers in each other’s offerings. Boon Yao, founder of the city’s world-class fitness centre Babel, takes great pleasure in this synergy. “I like working with friends because I understand their nuances. It makes the communication easier. When there’s uncertainty and insecurity, it can cause any collaboration to fizzle.”
“We don’t have to sugarcoat things with each other, and we don’t second-guess each other either,” adds Kim, founder of the KL blow-dry bar. The ability to resonate and amplify each other’s strengths has always been at the core of their relationship too.
When talking about one another, they can’t help but rave about the value that each person contributes to the business. Chryseis can always count on Kim and Boon Yao to put quality first; Kim adores Chryseis’s business acumen and Boon Yao’s ingenuity; and Boon Yao admires Kim’s infectious positivity and Chryseis’ effective decisiveness.
Glowhouse marks the trio’s maiden voyage into unchartered territories. And just like any first, it can be an eye-opening and enriching experience. This experimental endeavour has given them a window into each other’s professional personalities. Though their leadership styles may vary, this gives them a chance to learn from one another.
“This is so different from my past experience working with my family and my other businesses where I’m the only one making the decisions. It’s the first time where we have three active partners, so this partnership has taught me that trust is key,” Chryseis shares candidly.
For Kim, who is essentially the most junior in the game, she finds entrepreneurship to be a solitary journey. “But when it comes to working on Glowhouse, it’s not as lonely anymore.” As for Boon Yao, who is notorious for his dynamo-like productivity, he’s adjusting to a new norm of working with businesswomen in the beauty segment. “I’m finding ways to keep things simple and to put myself out there a little more.”
Despite their differences, one thing is for sure: all three of them share a common vision for Glowhouse. You won’t find one brand eclipsing the other, and that is reflective of the way they feel about their offerings. In a unanimous vote, they crowned COCOdry’s hair loss treatment, Lumi Beauty’s Vitamin Glow Super Serum, and Tone’s top-notch equipment to be their favourites from the respective brands.
Now four months into the business, it seems like they are living the dream. But unlike a dream, they are going into this with eyes wide open. “There’s no clear distinction with us where we separate our work and personal lives because we started off as friends,” Kim notes.
“Our friendship will always come over the business. We agreed, from the very beginning, to keep that intact. In fact, we even laid down some ground rules: Say our piece, but then we must take care of each other after. If it ever comes to a point where our vision diverges, then we walk away from it, and we walk away friends,” Boon Yao affirms.
But what do customers think of the idea? Judging by how busy it gets at Platinum Park, we say they love it. A much-welcomed extension of Babel, Tone has allowed pilates enthusiasts to experience five-star amenities that are singular to the luxury gym. Industrious individuals are flocking to the area because they don’t have to shave time off their busy schedules to luxuriate in COCOdry’s services anymore. If they’re really in a dash, Lumi Cafe has just the pick-me-up they need in the form of coffee and pastries. They can also have 24-hour access to Lumi Beauty’s offerings through the vending machine.
Like any other booming business, this could just be the first Glowhouse to pop up. With all three minds set on success, it’s only a matter of time. Chryseis herself was toying with the idea of a Glowhouse Extra during the interview. “Once this is established, we can grow into bigger things and even evolve with different concepts,” she chimes.
“This is just the beginning for Tone. Ideally, all future Babel locations will house a reformer pilates studio moving forward,” Boon Yao teases.
“We also hope to bring this concept overseas, if all goes well!” says Kim.