In this interview with our home-grown skincare brand Dermagold, we take a more personal look into the lives of the founders–Dr. Grace and Dr. Luping!

IKIGUIDE: How did you get into the aesthetics practice, Dr. Grace?

Dr. Grace : I entered into private practice as a family physician in 1997 (at the age of 28) and worked mainly in the Raffles Place / Shenton way and CBD area.

I started to get very interested in medical aesthetics as I began to learn more about how science can be harnessed to solve my own skin issues! I also encountered many working executives who had aesthetic concerns like pigmentation, acne, scars, blemishes, keloids etc that came to me to seek medical help.

In those earlier days we had fewer treatment options available (compared to the numerous choices we have now!!) but it gave me tremendous satisfaction to see transformation in my patients’ skin which brought such cheer to them! Many patients thanked me for my help and it truly touched and warmed my heart.

As a young doctor in the CBD, I came to understand that good skin (for both ladies and men) made such a big difference to work place self esteem and helped my patients better exude the “executive presence”. I found the study of the science of beauty very intriguing and continued to pursuing learning in the medical aesthetics arena. I obtained the Graduate Diploma (FP) Dermatology and also certificates in competence for Laser, Botox, Dermal Fillers, Chemical Peels and IPL. Since then medical aesthetics has progressively transformed from something that started off as work to a life long passion for me!

The 2 conditions that bring me greatest satisfaction to treat is pigmentation and acne / acne scars as these are particular disfiguring if severe and can even cause depression or anti-social behavior in some patients.

IKIGUIDE: How about you, Dr. Luping?

Dr. Luping : I had teenage acne which resulted in much facial scarring. The acne did affect my self-esteem and the subsequent acne scarring was disheartening. Thus, I was always in the pursuit of treatments to improve my complexion. I was a family physician since 1997.

In the course of my work, I encountered ladies and men who had skin concerns ranging from acne, acne-scars, pigmentation, aging issues. Skin issues can affect our self-esteem, job opportunities and also result in missed opportunities. Likewise, sometimes a broken relationship or marriage can affect a person’s self-worth and cause them to seek aesthetic treatments. My personal concerns coupled with the needs of my patients prompted me to incorporate medical aesthetics into my GP practice as an extension of a more holistic management of my patients.

Currently, I have plunged full-time into medical aesthetics which I enjoy very much. It gives me tremendous satisfaction to see my patients looking better and younger than they did when they saw me initially.

IKIGUIDE: What has been your main challenge while setting up your businesses?

Grace : For me one of my major challenges is keeping my balance during my entrepreneurship journey. I tend to be an intense person but being a woman, my life has many facets – from being a wife, mum, doctor to now reinventing myself as a skincare entrepreneur. The demands on my time can be overwhelming from many fronts and it takes an internal steadfastness, perseverance and courage to push through. Many times I deliberately force myself to be still amidst all the activities & noise to sort out the clutter to decide how to forge ahead.

Luping : My main challenge is getting out of my comfort zone – reinventing myself to take on the tasks at hand in our business. So from doing the things which I am naturally am best, I now have to rise up to the challenge of developing new skills to take on new tasks.

IKIGUIDE: How do you harness the best from your partnership?

Grace : Knowing each other for more than 30 years definitely helps!

Luping and I have complementing gifts so we partner each other in a way that brings out the best of each other’s strength yet covering the other partner’s weakness. We look at things from different angles and process our thoughts differently too. But interestingly, very frequently we end up coming to similar conclusions or decisions.I am stronger at conceptualizing and creating while Luping is excellent at putting in place systems and processes. Luping also oversees the brand visual direction of Dermagold with her artistic flair.
Luping : Grace and I have been schoolmates since our days in Methodist Girls’ School till medical school. Our mothers are schoolmates too! We have seen each other through different stages of life’s journey and hence empathize with each other. We also share similar core values that we bring into our partnership and business. Our core values of integrity, responsibility and perseverance hold us together and makes our partnership strong even when disagreements arise.

IKIGUIDE: What keeps you going when you are down?

Grace : My main emotional support comes from knowing God (I am a Christian) especially in times of uncertainty. Every entrepreneur needs some inner strength to face the future so I derive that from my Christian belief. Also, my husband and kids’ unwavering support mean a lot to me. They cheer me on when I am down or physically tired.
Luping : Having a partner with the same goal and being in this together knowing that I am not alone in this journey helps me to keep going. My family’s support and encouragement help me press on when the going is tough and uncertain.

IKIGUIDE: What are three tips you would like to give to people out there trying to reinvent themselves as entrepreneurs?

Grace :
1 Passion. Starting up something in the area of your passion makes it much much easier. Especially during times of challenges, passion will carry you through.
2 Celebrate diversity. Be prepared to work with different kinds of people who complement your own gifts and talents. Be open to learn and grow.
3 Find your own inner balance. An entrepreneurial journey can be intense with many steep learning curves. So it’s important to find your own equilibrium. For me I find having a group of supportive friends around me crucial to this.

Luping :
1 Multitask. Be willing to multi-task as you start from ground zero. There will be many tasks and matters which you will not have realized you will encounter, they may be beyond your comfort zone, but learn and ask for advice.
2 Passion. Remember the passion and call which prompted you to start the business, that will keep you on your track and give you the grit to press on.
3 Do what you know. Built your business around your strengths and expertise, do not go into a business which you do not have knowledge of or because it is the current flavor and others are doing similar businesses which seem to be raking in the money.

We hope you have enjoyed this two-part interview with Dr. Grace Ling and Dr. Lim Luping as much as we did! Check out their recent interview too, with FEMALE MAGAZINE Singapore! 🙂

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