Starting from Scratch:
The iAremyhair Success Story
iAremyhair originator, Peter Lim suffered from hair loss at the age of 17.
Imagine what it must’ve been like for him at that young age to have been asked by his friend, while sitting for his O-Levels, whether he had hair loss.
Disappointed, he started to seek treatment by asking his father for help. Peter would go on to try several hair treatment programmes on top of seeing the family doctor. “There’s no cure for hair loss,” the family doctor told him. “It’s in your genes.”
Minoxidil and Propecia hadn’t been available at the time.
Peter was then studying in New Zealand and his hair loss was growing steadily worse. He tried different hairstyles to hide his condition—only to be asked by a stylist whether his hair had been burnt off.
A Tough Decision
Deeply affected by his hair loss, Peter was determined to do something about it before graduating and landing his first job. Options for his consideration included:
- Treatment: “Hope in a bottle” for those who have accepted that there is no cure
- Transplant: A non-reversible procedure which, if performed badly, causes scarring. While the new donor hair grows, the original hair continues to fall due to hair loss, resulting in an imbalanced look.
- Hair Replacement System: Looks bad, or fake
With no hair nor sufficient funding, Peter went for Option 3 as the safest and most cost effective course of action. But Hair Replacement Systems in the 90s proved to be thick, bulky and artificial-looking. Peter tried his best to sport simple hairstyles with the top blended in, but these hairpieces were thick, bulky and uncomfortable to wear.
This was in the 1990s, and he was subjected to endless sales talks which led to him spending up to $8000 a year.
As a trained accountant, Peter began to wonder about whether there was a lower cost alternative to the costly hair replacement systems which he’d tried thus far.
In 2000, he was recruited as manager of the Advanced Hair Studio franchise in Singapore. Peter jumped at the offered perk of free hair and the opportunity of running a business. For one reason or another, the Studio floundered two years later, and he was offered to take over the business for a small sum or they would shut it down.
In less than 24 hours, Peter had made his decision, believing that there must be an ethical way to run the business as opposed to a hard-sell approach.
What’s in a Name?
Peter’s first challenge was naming his brand.
The brand mission: To offer the best hair to clients. The technical term for this hair is “Remy hair”.
It was the age of dot-coms at the time, and Peter had been advised that putting an “A” before a name would lead to customers discovering your brand first in alphabetical listings. This was, of course, not true, but has resulted in the name, “Aremyhair” (pronounced “A-remy-hair” and not “Are My Hair”).
The “i” before the logo is silent, to represent his company as a place for customers to receive free and unbiased hair loss information.
Setting up Shop
Peter quickly secured his headquarters at 48A Tanjong Pagar Road in 2003.
His next challenge was recruiting a hairstylist, whom he was fortunate to find in the person of Elainne Yu in a few days’ time, and with whom he opened up iAremyhair on Monday, 6th January 2003.
Without technical training in the hair replacement industry, Peter had a steep learning curve, but in spite of this, iAremyhair remained true to its commitment of never having recourse to hard-sell tactics.
From its earliest beginnings, iAremyhair focused on
- Pricing: Providing reasonable rates everyone could afford
- Customer Service: No hard-selling, just excellent service—resulting in iAremyhair becoming one of the first beauty centres to be awarded CaseTrust accreditation
- Product Innovation: As a hair replacement user, Peter well understood what customers wanted—offering a natural-looking design with a thin base and a simple attachment method (as opposed to the outdated hair-weaving method with bulky hairpieces most were using at the time)
Elainne Yu went on to form UEC Hair Studio on her own in 2006, leaving Peter to continue his journey with iAremyhair.
Every growing business has its share of tough times, and iAremyhair was no exception. A major setback took place on 15th August 2008, when iAremyhair employees Silyon Hng Tsio Fong and Alicia Poh Sar Moi left abruptly to set up their own hair replacement business nearby.
Even before her resignation from iAremyhair, Silyon had formed Amaze Specialist Hair Care (UEN 200813437G), secretly wooing iAremyhair clientele away to come to her studio. With iAremyhair having no experienced stylists, many of its customers allowed themselves to be swayed.
However, a number of customers chose to remain loyal to iAremyhair, expressing their faith in its client-centric culture and encouraging the rest of the staff to be strong and to work even harder. One client even volunteered to cut hair for iAremyhair.
While sure that there was not much that could be done, iAremyhair knew for sure that it would survive. After a hard fight, iAremyhair slowly but steadily regained its clients.
In 2010, with the help of one top lawyer Mr. Arivanantham from Ari Goh & partners, iAremyhair took legal action against Silyon Hng Tsio Fong, Alicia Poh Sar Moi, Amaze Specialist Hair Care Pte Ltd for breach of contract. This action was also taken to clear Peter’s name in the face of accusations of sexual harassment.
The legal proceedings took a very long time with court decisions at every stage ending in favour of iAremyhair. One of the major challenges was finding people who were willing to come before the court to testify on iAremyhair’s behalf. iAremyhair had 6 clients who stepped forward because they felt Peter Lim was falsely accused.
By 2016, iAremyhair was awarded $244,000.
After transferring all her assets to Kluang, Malaysia, Hng Tsio Fong declared bankruptcy on 25th August 2016, and Amaze Specialist Hair Care at 61A Cantonment Road was reborn overnight as Hair Spec Private Limited (UEN 201607925K) —soon after iAremyhair was awarded damages.
With claims of having found an angel investor with years of hair care experience to take over Amaze, Hair Spec has retained all of its original staff and business operations. After being an owner of Amaze, Hng became general manager for Hair Spec. For her part, Alicia left Amaze after the court case to start her own enterprise somewhere in Chinatown.
In the end, it was the
- Resistance to Hard Selling
- Transparent Pricing
- Product Quality
- Focus on Profitability
- Naturally Undetectable Products
of iAremyhair that has enabled it to overcome adversity and continue to delight clients with superior products and quality hair replacement systems.
Veering Away from Hair Weaving
Right from the beginning, iAremyhair has been innovative in its approach to addressing hair loss, as shown by Peter Lim’s strong aversion to offering hair weaving to his clients.
Hair weaving was widely practiced in the early 2000’s and it is invasive.
- Holes are punched into the hairpiece around its thick edges and tied it together with the clients’ hair.
- Because of this technique, the base material of the hairpiece has to be very thick in order for both hairpiece and natural hair to be tied together.
- This results in an unnatural, bulky hairpiece which causes a client to lose more hair due to traction alopecia in the long run.
This is precisely why iAremyhair has never adopted hair weaving, and wasn’t afraid to be considered a minority for using tapes and bonding as attachment methods. As a hair wearer himself, Peter knows firsthand that only tapes and bonding can give clients the best quality in terms of look and comfort.
After all these years, there is hardly anyone providing hair weaving services in Singapore, today.
Service for the Stars
iAremyhair was the first to engage a local celebrity, Yao Wen Long in 2005 to endorse its products. Unlike other celebrities who had never had any hair loss problems and who had heretofore endorsed “hair loss solutions”, Yao knew for a fact that there really is no cure for hair loss.
The following year, iAremyhair invited stylists from American HairLine to come over to Singapore to collaborate on the first ever live hair show which was probably also the first ever in Asia.
They invited 4 participants on stage who shared about their hair loss problems, and transformed them backstage. They then turned up one by one after an hour with showstopping results.
iAremyhair has also been involved in the local movie making industry with director Jack Neo. All the wigs featured in the movies, Long- Long Time Ago, Part 1, 2, and 3, and Ah Boys to Men were all from iAremyhair.
Accolades for Stellar Performance
Knowing the nature of the hair business, iAremyhair offers a complete programme instead of selling a single hairpiece. This programme gives clients the option of paying a monthly fee which give them access to a full range of hair replacement benefits.
This is a genuine monthly programme where a client pays us on a monthly basis by his own choice. He has 100% control of his own finances. This is not one of those installment plans offered by credit card companies, where your credit limit is taken immediately.
iAremyhair has since been recognised for product quality and service excellence:
- 2012 Promising 500 SME Award
- 2013 Circle of Excellence in Beauty & Wellness Industry
- 2015 Singapore Heartland Enterprise Star Award (Most Innovative), Promising Enterprise Category.