As the founder of Malaysia’s most prestigious group of salons, Datin Winnie Loo is practically a household name. Together with her husband Datuk Richard Teo, they oversee A Cut Above’s progression to the top of the hairstyling industry.
Trained by hair maestro Vidal Sassoon, Winnie started her first salon while hairdressing in Malaysia was at its infancy. Her award-winning skill and professionalism helped transform the industry into the landscape it is today.
In the following Q&A with myeppo, Winnie opens up about the ongoing challenges faced by the beauty industry….
How have you and your family adapted to the new norm?
It’s become normal for me but unfortunately our business has been badly affected by the prolonged lockdown. Just when we thought it was getting better last December, this year seems worse. Since MCO 1, 2 and now the unwelcomed MCO 3, it has become very disruptive in our planning.
On the bright side, it has given me more time to appreciate what we missed due to our busy schedules before this. With our first born grandchild Alaia turning 16 months old, the joy and laughter we experience supersedes the frustrations
So instead of complaining about the situation which is beyond my control, I have learnt to appreciate what really matters now. Keeping fit together with my hubby has become our new norm. Enjoying Netflix movies and K-Drama is fun as well. Apart from my passion for cooking, I picked up baking and it is so therapeutic to see the outcome of my efforts.
What are the challenges faced by the hairstyling industry at the moment?
We are facing many challenges as the industry is classified as non-essential. We were the first to be subjected to lockdown and it takes too long to reopen. Even if we are allowed to open, we are restricted to cutting hair only which is not enough to cover high overheads. We face high rentals in shopping malls (which are also under lockdown in spite of practising strong SOP) so it has become very difficult for many salon owners to make ends meet.
What’s the biggest lesson learnt during the pandemic?
I learnt to appreciate simple joy and what I have been blessed with whilst many are struggling to put food on the table. The free air that I am breathing daily being alive makes me more grateful for God’s grace upon my family and me.
What is your beauty routine like?
Gentle cleansing plus daily masking for moisture and resurrection of my face either in the morning or evening. I strongly believe that good skin withstands anti-ageing in the long run. I complete my routine with serum, moisturiser and night cream.
What are your must-have products?
Over the years, I have tried many brands, be it hair or beauty products. I am currently using cleanser, moisturiser and night serum from Korean brand ByTheDoctor. I am also using The Caim – The Faire Revivre, which is yet to be launched. My other favourite products are Medavita Anti Yellow Blonde Enhancer Shampoo and Kerastase Ultra Violet Masque.
When you have free time, what forms of wellness do you indulge in?
I used to indulge in massages, regular facial rejuvenation treatment and therapeutic reflexology even in my salon whenever time permits. For now, stretching and light yoga steps are my favourite forms of keeping well.
Your advice to those who want to follow in your footsteps?
It is important to have convictions and even be bold to dream big. Set achievable goals and see to it even if you have to take risks especially when opportunity comes knocking at your door. Do not follow in my footsteps but instead follow your heart.
Proudest accomplishments over the years?
Apart from leading A Cut Above Group to sustain for four decades as a founder, my proudest accomplishment is graduating with an MBA in the business segment.
What is your motto in life?
What doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger. And never self-doubt when it comes to loving myself more.
What’s your message to everyone going through this pandemic?
Have faith and trust our Creator. If God brings us to this stage, there’s a way He will bring us out of this storm. I know it is easier say than done, but if we lose the peace within us then we are already a loser. Stay strong as we can all get through this together. Practice strict SOP and please get vaccinated so we can achieve herd immunity sooner.
What is your hope for next year?
My hope is that we can all see light at the end of the tunnel by this year end and for normalcy to come back to Malaysia in 2022. And for a world where we can travel freely once again. I truly wish for these dreams of mine to come true!
Myeppo Talks To…. is a weekly series in which we profile dynamic personalities. It is out every Monday. For more on Winnie, follow her @winnieloomh on Instagram.