Adrian Cheong Tun Keat is certainly not the type of particular person to let a very good alternative cross him by. While working with the gross sales staff at Groupon, he was approached by his present enterprise companions, who have been eager to put money into a enterprise. Cheong pitched just a few concepts, and the one they selected was Analogue Apotik (which was then referred to as The Apothecary).
In 2015, Cheong got here throughout an article that detailed how stable colognes — another to standard liquid fragrances — have been the subsequent huge factor. “I checked it out and realised there have been manufacturers within the US that have been only one yr previous. I assumed it was one thing we might construct in Malaysia. I used to be impressed by what occurred with Uber. They have been fairly huge again then and determined to transfer to China, however received kicked out as a result of there was already one other ride-hailing enterprise. We needed to construct that for stable colognes in Asia in order that, when American manufacturers come over, will probably be too late,” he says.
Inspired by old-school apothecaries who crafted fascinating elixirs and potions, Cheong named his enterprise The Apothecary. While he had financial help, operating the enterprise was a one-man present. Researching and growing the primary vary of stable colognes took roughly 4 months. The enterprise started with three scents, solely certainly one of which, referred to as Cornerstone, remains to be offered on-line as we speak.
Challenges cropped up when it got here time to promote the stable colognes. “It was laborious to persuade folks that this little block might final for months. Also, whereas I wholly consider in having a enterprise on-line, we’re coping with scent. If folks don’t expertise it, they gained’t chunk. We weren’t a recognized brand that individuals would simply purchase from. When we first began promoting on-line, it was robust; so, we did have to go right into a bricks-and-mortar house,” Cheong explains.
He began inserting his scents in small shops — first a neighbourhood retailer in SS15, Subang Jaya after which locations comparable to Pestle & Mortar’s Bangsar department in Kuala Lumpur. To actually get the phrase on the market, Cheong contacted as many media retailers as potential with press releases. He was then fast to use the revealed articles as leverage to entice worldwide curiosity.
“The first was Taiwan, the place we received a retailer in Taipei to inventory our scents. We began promoting internationally in a short time. We offered them in Hong Kong and even Singapore. This was all throughout the first 4 months,” he says. Everything occurred so rapidly as a result of stable cologne was such a novel and weird product on the time.
Cheong rapidly noticed the good thing about persevering with to promote his colognes exterior Malaysia. “Once we offered overseas, I realised the shopping for energy was lots stronger. For instance, Singapore’s forex is thrice ours. One of my tins would price about RM75 and in Singapore it’s simply S$25,” he says.
Over the years he expanded their vary of stable cologne scents. He even rebranded The Apothecary to Analogue Apotik. “‘Analogue’ means parallel. We nonetheless need to be the apothecary however being apothecary alone is generic. So, we needed to be an analogue of that,” he says, including that “Apotik” is his personal Malaysianised model of the phrase.
The yr 2019 was pivotal for Analogue Apotik. Business was booming, and Cheong determined to introduce new merchandise and even opened its headquarters in Sunway Geo, Subang Jaya. At this level, stable colognes have been not distinctive, and plenty of comparable companies have been cropping up. Even the small tins that the scents are saved in have been utilized by different corporations. To differentiate Analogue Apotik, Cheong launched the Crackle Case, a particular design that appears like a lighter. When the cologne is completed, prospects need solely purchase a refill to change the tray inside this uncommon case.
Many prospects nonetheless need liquid scents, however Cheong needed to do one thing completely different. “Most liquid scents are ethanol-based. We determined to do one thing oil-based as a substitute. It has higher sealage, which implies higher launch of the scent. We began with a small batch first. I’m not a giant fan of utilizing ethanol as a result of it dries the pores and skin and, if I ship it out, it might have to be labeled as harmful items, as it’s flammable,” he explains. The Colossus, Phenomen and Cleopatra scents are at present obtainable in each liquid and stable kinds. Cheong plans to make Analogue Apotik’s oil-based fragrances obtainable as a sprig format as nicely.
The brand additionally affords scents for the house. “The candle was like a reactive transfer. It was through the pandemic. We thought final yr was going to be robust. We wanted one thing to transfer into houses as a result of folks weren’t going out. Also, folks belief our fragrances now; they know our brand. So, it was not too laborious for us to transfer into creating candles,” Cheong says.
What makes prospects take pleasure in Analogue Apotik’s merchandise a lot is their old-school aesthetic, impressed by the apothecaries of previous. “I feel folks genuinely cherished the entire story we’ve constructed across the apothecary, the entire design. I needed it to be fairly intentional with our scents and all the pieces. For occasion, the Crackle Case packaging could be very minimal. One purpose is to scale back waste. So, the wrapping paper across the case is twin function as a result of it has all the knowledge on it, like how to use it. And we seal it with a wax stamp,” Cheong says.
The enterprise has produced scents for different manufacturers, together with for an organization in Singapore. “I don’t thoughts constructing merchandise for others as a result of we’ve the experience. I all the time consider the perfect enterprise is the one which grows different folks’s companies. For instance, with meals vehicles, there’s all the time a season when everybody desires his personal truck. And who’s the one who makes essentially the most cash? The man who builds the meals vehicles,” Cheong says.
In future, Analogue Apotik could have a bricks-and-mortar retailer to showcase its merchandise. Cheong hopes to develop its worldwide enterprise into the US as nicely. “Everyone desires to construct the subsequent unicorn, however I would like our enterprise to be a cockroach. It doesn’t die, and you already know it gained’t die. It lasts all through the ages,” he says.
This article first appeared on June 21, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.