Interview: Ee Ting Ng, Founder of Hop & Cotton

With a strong Irish heritage, my skin is very prone to sensitivity, with an overall redness.  It’s been a lifelong challenge to find products that really work.  Then I met Ee Ting Ng, the founder of Hop & Cotton.  I have absolutely no hesitation in saying this is one of the best skin care systems I have ever used.  *This is no way an advertorial. I was only supplied product to test.

It seems I’m not the only one who is intrigued and impressed by the launch of Hop & Cotton, being featured in the below publications already:

Product features

ELLE Nov 2017, Sporteluxe Oct 2017, Byrdie Sept 2017, Byrdie Nov 2017 and Woman’s Day Aug 2017 

Brand story

STYLE magazine Oct 2017 and Brisbane News (upcoming, TBA)

Expert Opinion

BeautyCrewMarie Claire, Faz Woche (German newspaper) and Media Planet (German media company)

I recently visited Ee in Brisbane for a chat about why Hop & Cotton is such an effective product.

J: Why do you think your product is so effective?

E: I think it is just really targeted but very simple. A lot of the time, we are kind of oversold on products.  For the longest time, I just believed whatever I was sold. The people who sell the products don’t know what’s in the product because they didn’t make it. Most companies make their skin care product by starting with how you can sell it or market it.  Someone decides it’s going to be a,b,c and d i.e. oil free & mattefying.  Most products start this way.

J: So, it sounds like their motivation is different.  They are thinking about a selling platform but you’re thinking about what is actually going to work?

E: Yes.

J:  You started making the product because you couldn’t find something that worked for you?

E: I tried different things for 10 years.  I really tried everything I think…but I feel like [my skin] always see-sawed.  It would get better but then it just wouldn’t work out.

HOP_TheFoamParty

J: I believe it was your husband who pushed you to make your own products?

E: He really just gave me a kick in the butt.  He said, stop trying all these things.  You’re a scientist of sorts (I was in biology, in research) so that was my job.  So, he said, you should just go make something for yourself. Honestly, if I hadn’t had struggled so much, I wouldn’t have listened to him.  So, I started to learn how to get into cosmetic science.

J: How do you ‘get into’ cosmetic science?

E: At first, you have books to read. A lot of it is based on chemistry and some physics.  I think a very big part of it is to get into it by ‘doing’.  You read and when you feel confident enough, you just do it – because science is very much a practical subject. I worked in a lab, that’s my job. So, I knew what to do and what not to do, so that was helpful.

J: What are your thoughts in terms of sustainability – using natural ingredients to create natural skin care?

E: I think sustainability and natural often fall in the same category but it also can be separate.  For example, the squalene that I use – the very first generation of them are from sharks. It was probably the Japanese that made it popular, as it is really great for the skin.  Then, people started becoming more aware of what they are actually doing to the sharks. So, then they worked out they could also extract it from olives but you would have to purify tonnes and tonnes of the fruit before you can actually get the squalene, because it’s only a tiny fraction of the profile the oil provides.  And now, people have found the technology to do it from sugarcane – so this is the squalene that I source. But it’s not cheap.  You can definitely get cheaper squalene’s out there but to me I feel like, if I can make a difference I will use the more sustainable source.

There are also certain things that are more practical to make rather than source from nature.  For example, Salicylic acid, it’s from willow bark tree and you do have to have quite a bit of willow bark to get a little bit of salicylic acid, where as if you just make it in the lab – you can guarantee the purity and you can get a really high yield. So, it really is about the smart way of doing things.

Unfortunately, the natural movement is also a marketing thing.  It’s kind of their approach – tug at your heart-strings.

Hop and Cotton

J: In terms of price point – we’ve all thought about spending $500 on a moisturiser because we assume it’s better for our skin. Do you think this to be true?

E: I think it really depends. I’m sure you’re aware that in the cosmetic industry there are more and more giant cosmetic brands buying up the smaller successful brands – so probably all the brands are owned by 3 or 4 main cosmetic brands.  If you are really good, you’ll be bought out.  What I’m trying to say, is that you don’t know where your money is going to.  How much of it is actually going to the parent company, how much is going to the actual brand and how much of that is actually going to the R&D of that brand and not brands of the parent company.

J: From your point of view, what is it that women should know and why should they use your product?

E: I think that the main thing about H&C is that we really care.  I know what it’s like going from brand to brand and listening to different people and ending up being so confused about what actually is going to help me.  The beauty industry is very difficult for both the consumer and businesses because new companies pop up every day and turn out product so quickly – how do you stay competitive in a world like that?  And then at the other end, you have consumers who think they must have this and that [becasue it is the latest thing] – not all new things are necessarily better.

As a formulator, I see so many new materials that come through every day but the ones that really work are actually few and far between.  You have to be very aware and make an objective assessment of it all and decide what to take on board with you.  So really just using what your skin needs.  I think this is the biggest difference. Our skin is an organ and if you just help it, it will do what it’s supposed to do it and it will look great.

J: What’s next for the brand?  As its personalised, I expect it can’t really be stocked in stores?

E: I’m still thinking of a way to essentially pass down what I do in formulating for each client to other formulators so they can understand the thought process.  Essentially that is one way I can have more hands.  I’m very, very aware that the bigger you get, you lose that attentiveness and you lose the very personal relationship with your clients.  Beyond a certain point, I couldn’t have the same priorities as I do now, which I want to remain as to why I started in the first place.  I am really trying to work the growth out because I got into H&C not really thinking about business, it was really just to solve a problem. It was when my other family members started asking me for their own products, I thought – maybe I should start H&C to help everyone else.

 

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Jill Wright

Lifestyle blogger, Fashion lover, Fitness fanatic, Photographer & Staffy lover. Jill@iamjillwright.com

23 comments

  • Thanks for sharing this interview! I’ve actually never heard of H&C but now I am so curious about the products. I love her business acumen about doing things the smart and efficient way and also why she started this company to begin with – to solve a problem. I also love that the products are personalized in that they can’t just be sold at mass stores. There definitely is an appeal about that as we all have different skin and how we react to products. Thanks for sharing and featuring this brand as I am definitely going to check them out! Xoxo, Christine
    http://dailykongfidence.com/

  • Thanks for sharing this interview. I’ve never heard of H&C but definitely interested in looking at their stuff. I love that it’s for sensitive skin but sadly I’m not sure I would be able to use the cleanser since they contain coconut. Coconut usually makes me break out ( I know everyone is different and some people live by it!) It looks like their body moisturizer “the cocoon” would actually be okay with me. So I’m going to look into them! Thanks so much

    • The surfactants we often use are actually coconut-derived, which behaves nothing like coconut oil (diamond and paper; both from carbon!). But if someone is unable to use an ingredient (e.g. coconut-derived surfactants), there are always other ingredients we can use to formulate – that’s the beauty of complete customisation! I hope that helps!

  • Wow I’ve actually never heard of Hop and Cotton but after reading this I would really like to try her products. I love how thoughtful she is of what is put into H&C products and it’s nice to hear the voice behind a brand. For me it’s not just about hype – but finding quality products that work. And I love how pragmatic she is in her process. Great interview!
    XO
    http://www.lehoarder.com/

  • I struggle with sensitive skin as well, so it is such a relief that this product exists! I had actually never heard of Hop and Cotton, but after reading this I will definitely need to try them out. I love that you included an interview with the brand because it helps to give an insight on their company.

    ~xo Sheree
    PoshClassyMom.com

  • Jill, I really enjoyed this post. First of all, it’s amazing that you were able to meet and interview Ee Ting Ng. I’ve really loved learning what went on behind the scenes when creating Hop & Cotton. She seems to have had such a good foundation to make this come to life. I truly feel like some of the best things in life happen when it just forms naturally and it seems that this is how it happened for Ee Ting Ng. I’d never really thought about large brands buying out smaller brands in the beauty industry. I know this is something that happens in the food industry and you really have to do your research even with the smaller organic brands you think are privately owned, they are so few and far in between now because the ‘natural’ industry has become so large and is really owning the market right now and I see here that that’s also very true of the beauty industry. Since having my children, I have sensitive skin as well and I’d really love to try the cleanser as it says it’s non drying which is a problem with a lot of cleansers I’ve used. Of all the products I love in my skin care routine, a cleanser is one I still haven’t found a few favorites in. Thank you for this introduction to Hop & Cotton!

    Manda | http://EvocativelyChosen.com

  • Nice post girl, very interesting and informative! I use to have sensitive skin, I think at this time it’s getting better but I am so happy that this products is now in the market. It’s amazing to know a little bit abound the behind the scenes, I mean the voice and authority of the brand. I am obsessed with products that contain coconut, so the cleanser will be a delightful to use!
    Thanks for sharing and have a nice day!
    Vanessa

    http://thefashionstatement.net

  • This post is something that can satisfy our questions. Maybe would nice to try after I read this post. Love how she put the interest of the client and person before marketing. This is the most important she’s really care to give us something special and what we need.
    Xx
    Eva
    http://www.themermaidfashion.com

  • Right I’m off to find Hop & Cotton as it truly does sound like a skin care brand with a difference! It’s so scary that many brands think about how they will market the product before they actually make it, as it may not even be good for the skin. I admire her for sourcing squalane ethically- those poor sharks shouldn’t have to suffer for our skin!

    Rachel xx
    http://www.thedailyluxe.net

  • I loved reading your interview with Ee Ting Ng! Hop & Cotton sounds like a product I could get behind! I love that Ee’s husband pushed her to begin this journey! I too, have gone from brand to brand trying to figure out what is best for my skin. What I really like about Ee is that she cares! She is not just trying to sell her product, but the ingredients that are within.

    Thanks for sharing!
    XO
    Tandya
    http://www.simplytandya.com

  • I have never heard of Hop & Cotton! I can definitely relate to Ee Ting Ng on what she said about her husband motivating here to create her own product. My fiancé also motivated me to rebrand and to take it more seriously than I already did and it has made all the difference! I love her take on sustainability too. It definitely pays to spend more on a product (squalene), especially knowing it’s going to be better for our environment. I need to research her brand!

    http://www.thebeautybeau.com

  • Now THIS is what it all comes down to. A real person behind a brand in an industry which is ever so anonymous and as she points out, all companies are basically owned by 3-4 large conglomerates and that makes it hard to know if you’re paying that $500 for quality or just for the name. Given her background in biology and trying to solve a problem of her own and then making it into a business it gives her so much more credibility and I would love to get a chance to try out Hop Cotton and the products of her brand. Thank you for lifting independent brands and strong women with a lovely interview!
    Thomas xx

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