There’s something anxiety-inducing about hair loss. Many expect it, but only a few can face it with good grace. Through his father’s experience with hair loss, Abel Hao Tian realised how harmful the ingredients found in most hair products marketed toward people are. As a believer in treating the scalp with the same degree of care and attention as one treats their skin, Abel was inspired to establish his own brand, FA Hair Therapy. Recently, we sat down with Abel to find out more about the brand as well as his entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a bit about how FA Hair Therapy started.
I grew up in a very small town in Sabah called Lahad Datu. From a very young age I’d work in my dad’s office which was located right below where we live. He was the first in his family to start his own business and as a young boy, I recall looking up to him and admiring his entrepreneurial spirit. I knew that one day, like my father, I wanted to run my own brand.
My dad suffered from scalp and balding issues, and I’m an avid believer in treating your scalp with the same degree of care and attention as one treats their skin, as the scalp ages six times faster than the face.
Since then, my family and I started looking into the haircare production process, and I found that all hair products were made through the addition of harsh chemicals and high temperature. As a result, all the natural ingredients included were boiled off, reducing the potency and effectiveness of the products. It was then that I was inspired to challenge the science behind the process and carve out FA Hair Therapy: a hair wellness collective that focuses on natural and clean ingredients.
What is the significance of the name?
The initials of ‘FA’ represents my sister Feon, and I (Abel). The more unique part of this name is that ‘FA’ also represents hair in mandarin. Hair wellness is a long-term strategy rather than a one-time cure. We want to make you feel great about your hair, not just in terms of how it appears, but also in terms of how it feels.
Wellness is a lifestyle, a holistic approach to all aspects of health. Given the importance of hair to many people, it was only logical to think of this as a long-term solution. Scalp health represents hair wellness, which leads to overall wellness. And each time you wash your hair, we want to remind you that is a therapy that you’re treating yourself. Whether you’re at home, or on a holiday – there’s always room for a hair therapy session.
What were some of the challenges you faced?
Life isn’t exciting without challenges, isn’t it? When you start your own business, you no longer have higher management to provide you with a playbook for your roles and responsibilities. You must be well-versed in every facet of your firm, as you will be the one to make all of the decisions.
The challenging aspect about starting up FA Hair Therapy was to source great quality plant-based products like rosemary leaves, lavender stems, and olive oils. We know there were many suppliers out there in Malaysia that distribute them. However, we decided to get the better-quality ones imported directly from Japan. And these plant-based products helped to avoid traditional heat-based production, which can reduce the potency of nutrients in seed oils.
We spent two years of RND before we officially launch our products. We want to make sure that the products truly work before rolling out to the public. There were a lot of back and forth on what ingredients should we add or remove, as well as keeping the holistic approach to scalp health.
What are some milestones the company is proud of?
Building FA Hair Therapy has been one of the most exciting, rewarding, and challenging experiences of my life. I’ve enjoyed being pushed to the limit when it comes to the entire process, from the customer journey to the supporting internal processes.
Since the beginning of 2022, we’ve expanded our target audience from age 40-55, to 18-55 with repeatable clients. The reason that I considered this as one of the milestones in the company was because I knew the impact that it could have on the lives of people of my generation. This wouldn’t be possible without the support of social media to help us to gain authority in the haircare industry.
What’s in store for the future of FA Hair Therapy?
I expect a lot of hair care and beauty firms to start talking about scalp health in the near future. I consider your scalp to be an extension of your face, but it ages six times faster. Hence why we should be caring for it. More importantly, I believe that the future of haircare will be defined by the methods and processes employed to create products.
The future of FA Hair Therapy will have breakthroughs in providing better sustainability to the brand, through the packaging we use, the ingredients we include, and less energy to create our products. FA Hair Therapy is a reaction to an existing industry, and a promise of what it can become.