Amy Ngo is the co-founder of Organic Hair Regrowth Solutions (OHRS) – the first organic salon in Singapore. Equipped with a steely gaze and sleek bob length hair, Amy welcomed me into our first Zoom call. Sensing my nervousness, she smiled warmly and started to exchange pleasantries with me. Within minutes we were chatting about her past, her career journey and life lessons as an entrepreneur like old friends.
Even at a young age, Amy has a fascination with coiffure and haircare. This stems from the visits to the salon with her mother during her childhood. Being in the salon, watching hair dressers style her mother’s hair left a lasting impression on the young Amy. During her teenage years, she has already decided to pursue a career in hair styling. Unfortunately, her parents do not share the same sentiment.
“My parents were not supportive at first because they thought that doing hair wasn’t a good job and it’ll ruin my future,” she said.
When Amy was 16 years old, she began her two years of studies in jewellery design to be a goldsmith in Malaysia. During her studies, she caught herself being unhappy and often frustrated because she knew that this was not something that she desired to do. The thought of running away from home often plagued her mind during that dark period. An opportunity arose when one of Amy’s friends introduced her to work in Singapore, as a goldsmith. She grabbed at that chance and went to Singapore in 1996. It was also during her time in Singapore that she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of being a hair stylist. Without her parents’ knowledge, Amy took up night classes on hair styling for half a year.
All was going well until one fateful visit back to her hometown in Kluang, Johor. She took a trip down memory lane and visited the salon that she used to patron as a teenager. Engaging in a friendly chat with one of the salon “auntie’’, Amy casually shared about her experience on her part-time hair course. However, that casual chat became a topic among acquaintances and Amy’s dad caught wind of his daughter’s activity in Singapore. He was not thrilled at first but gives in when he understood how much Amy wanted to pursue her career in hair styling. “Even though, he is not happy with my decision but my parents have always been supportive. They did not object to my decision to learn about hair styling as a full-time course – I think they were worried that their daughter would get into bad company, but I was always responsible and stayed away from such things,” she explained.
Her parents were finally supportive that one of her fondest memory involves her dad on her first week of practical training. Amy’s dad volunteered to be her first male hair model.
Upon graduating, Amy found a job at a hair salon. She worked tirelessly from 10am till midnight. In 2007, after almost ten years in the industry, she launched her first salon named Hair Concept Studio with a partner, rebranded and expanded to twelve different locations now. When she first started her business, she made many mistakes and gain valuable lessons from those errors. She feels that as a young entrepreneur, those mistakes were necessary to gain experience and views the incurred losses as paying a tuition fee to an ‘entrepreneur school’.
After running her business for a while with trainees coming in and going out to open their own salons, Amy realizes that she needs to find a value and identity that stands out from the rest. In this competitive industry, it is not uncommon for other salons to imitate the concept of bigger and more well-known salons. Following a series of brainstorming sessions and meticulous research, Amy found her own niche selling point. She started to venture into organic products that will aid in scalp issues. She continued to come up with ideas of improvement to stay on top of the rest. One of said improvements is the implementation of online service booking using a mobile app to reduce the hassle for her clients. She also executed a P2P programme, allowing distributors to sell products more conveniently. Amy is also currently dabbling in NFT to stay on trend!
However, at the end of the day, Amy puts more attention into the quality of service and products she offers. Why does she put a heavy emphasis on service? Amy perceives that good service goes beyond the value of money. Staffs in Amy’s organic hair care salon are observant and attentive to clients’ needs. From providing blankets and pillows to make them comfortable to serving healthy Chinese tea, juice and cake to satiate the customers. Amy is also focused on developing well-rounded products, that not only deliver great results but organic and gentle on the skin. Proving the efficacy of these products, you will not find a single dry or cracked hand among the stylists in OHRS!
That being said, people around Amy do not fathom her infatuation with hair. For most people, a nice face and body are enough to make a good first impression. But to Amy, it is more important for a person to have well-groomed hair. If you compare two individuals, one with unkempt hair and another with slick and groomed hair, the latter will look more presentable, enthusiastic and confident, even without the help of makeup. A good haircut will always boost a person’s confidence. As Amy understands the importance of this notion, she has continuously delivered makeovers that suit her clients accompanied by high-quality service. This resulted in Amy’s large following of loyal clients.
When the pandemic hit, Amy’s business took a beating as she shuts down operations nationwide, adhering to safety protocols. Instead of giving up, Amy resiliently came up with plans to not only improve the business but to also create hair care products that allow her clients to care for their hair at home. As the pandemic situation gradually shifts to a better state, Amy is now able to implement her latest idea and goals for her business. What is her latest mission you may ask? She has big plans to bring her company public and launch its first IPO in Singapore! Apart from that she also plans to launch 65 more physical stores in Singapore and another 300 physical shops in Malaysia in the near future.