The brains (and beauty) behind Wunderbath is where she is today because she didn’t want to risk using products that may irritate her sensitive skin.
Not all beautiful things come at a great cost – and they shouldn’t, especially not when the cost is your skin and body. Food scientist turned beauty entrepreneur Evelyn Marieta can proudly attest to that herself.
The brains (and beauty) behind Wunderbath – a handmade, vegan and cruelty-free bath and cosmetics label – is where she is today because she didn’t want to risk using products that may irritate her sensitive skin.
“While I was still working full-time, I was looking for lip stains that come in fashionable colours like purple or orange. But I found out that there were a lot of lipsticks in the market that contained lead,” says the ingredient-conscious beauty lover.
“I was so worried because I wear lipstick to work everyday – what are the side-effects on my health?” she pondered.
From there, she started doing more research and began to create her own lip balm and lip stains on the side. Besides testing out the products herself, she would also pass along some to her close friends and family to get their feedback. It was through these little after-work experiments that she discovered a true passion for cosmetics and DIY products.
This passion ultimately won over her stable job at a food company, setting her on an unmapped journey as a beauty entrepreneur.
Where food meets beauty
“My first choice was actually Soap Opera,” she reveals about the naming of her brainchild, “But I realised that there were a lot of other brands using that name, so I went on cracking my head thinking of something else that really represents our brand and all our fun and funky products.”
“I came across the German term ‘wunderbar’, which means wonderful, and decided to twist it a little to Wunderbath. It took me about one month to finalise the name after shortlisting all the others, because I really wanted to make sure the name wasn’t already taken up,” she elaborates.
Name set, formula tested, and products ready; she went on to launch Wunderbath with four main product lines: lip balms, lip stains, body butter and soap.
Speaking of soap, her first handmade soap actually developed from a prank on her husband (then boyfriend).
“I made a soap that looked like an egg and I told him, ‘hey I cooked you something’. I even showed it to him in a frying pan, but he knows I don’t cook, so he thought it looked too perfect to be real,” she laughs.
“I don’t think any university can teach me about business as much as starting my own business has taught me for the past three years.”
The prank didn’t quite fool him, but the incident made her realise how something as simple as a food-imitating soap can bring so much joy and amazement to the people around her. It’s no wonder that the sunny side up soap remains one her favourite creations until today.
Now, many of her products revolve around food, such as Homer’s donut bath bombs, Kopi-C-inspired candles, Hari Raya-themed kuih and ketupat soaps, as well as mooncake candles (disclaimer: do not eat).
But the food connection goes further than just the surface; as it turns out, her previous training comes in handy when it comes to formulation too.
“Food science and cosmetic science are quite similar because both involve a list of ingredients that are safe for use or consumption. We also learn how to make products stable for a longer time on shelves, so a lot of my knowledge and experience in food science can be applied in cosmetic science in terms of product testing, product stability, and researching about ingredients,” she says.
What makes a Wunderwoman
Product development and formulation is only one of many diverse aspects in a business, however; and Evelyn knew she had to pick up other new skills to water the seed she had planted and reap a greater harvest.
“The biggest challenge for me so far is to learn everything in such a short time,” she tells, recalling how she learnt the basics of accounting from an online course over the Chinese New Year holidays.
“I also try to meet like-minded people or serial entrepreneurs at least once or twice a week. What I do is I would share about my brand and business ideas, then listen to their constructive feedback and learn new things along the way.”
It helps that she is also a model and emcee, from where she gets additional opportunities to widen her network.
“For the most part, I’ve been single-handedly managing the business myself, so for the past three years, I think I’ve aged quite a bit,” she tells good-humouredly. “But I don’t think any university can teach me about business as much as starting my own business has taught me for the past three years.”
“I had to open my mind to realise that my business is actually capable of going somewhere. You have to believe in that first before you can plan ahead.”
Never did she imagine that her business would go from making 100 products in a month to 30,000 at a time. This was how she learnt an important lesson: how to step up production to meet an increasing demand.
“In the handmade industry, one challenge that everyone will face is to scale up the business. Your source of income is limited to how many batches of products you can produce, so last year, I spent the entire year figuring out how to increase our capacity in a short period of time so that as and when we get bigger orders, we can cater to them as well,” she divulges.
Three years on, she views entrepreneurship as an ongoing series of experiments – every success is a milestone on which to build upon; and every failure should be replicated with one modified variable to identify its cause.
And if there’s one advice she’d give to others on this same journey, it’s this: “Don’t limit your dream because when I started, I didn’t realise that my business can scale up that fast. I had to open my mind to realise that my business is actually capable of going somewhere. You have to believe in that first before you can plan ahead.”
Location: G-12, Damen Mall, No. 1, Persiaran Kewajipan, USJ 1, 47600 Subang Jaya, Selangor
Operating hours: 10am to 10pm daily
Photography: Gan Yew Chin