Susie Ma: Tropic Skincare
Founded by a Forbes '30 under 30' honouree, Tropic is on the path to global success thanks to a growing family of Ambassadors
Susie Ma, 29
Company: Tropic Skincare
Susie Ma first started selling beauty products on London market stalls as a 15-year-old, to help her mum with the bills. After moving from Australia to the UK as a child, it wasn’t long before Ma and her mum struggled to make ends meet.
So, she took the plunge and decided to start her own business, selling a body scrub from a family recipe alongside her mum’s toy and souvenir stand at Greenwich Market.
The business was a runaway success, and by the time she left school, Susie had raised enough money to buy her mum a house, cover her university tuition fees, and purchase her first investment property. Despite this startling achievement, Ma’s studies led her to pursue a career as an investment banker.
After her ‘dream job’ at CitiGroup turned out to be less than she’d hoped for, Ma decided to explore other opportunities, putting in an application to appear on The Apprentice. Ma not only breezed through the application process; she made it to the final of the show, impressing Lord Sugar with her tenacity and enterprise.
Upon leaving the Apprentice house, Ma decided to restart Tropic, and, by the time the show went to air seven months later, the business was booming. Lord Sugar later put up a £200,000 investment for 50% of the business, and Susie remains the only candidate to receive investment without winning. It’s fair to say his decision has been vindicated: last year, Tropic turned over £22m.
Tropic offers natural beauty products made from tropical ingredients. Ma remains the primary formulator behind each product, and the range now has 100 products across skincare, hair care, body care and make-up.
The brand aims to be a force for good beyond beauty, with their infinite purpose to help create a healthier, greener, more empowered world. This has seen Tropic become a certified CarbonNeutral® company in 2018, as well as spearheading eco-friendly initiatives such as opting for biodegradable ingredients in its hair care line.
Yet the masterstroke has been Tropic’s social selling model. Ma’s Ambassadors, whose achievements are celebrated at a bi-annual event known as ‘Glambassadors’, sell Tropic’s products to customers across the nation, earning a percentage of commission per purchase. It’s an incredibly successful way of doing business for both parties; in 2017 alone, Tropic paid out over £10 million in commission.
Having just released their Winter 2018 collection, Tropic’s product range has won over 100 awards and been recognised by the likes of Psychologies and Good Housekeeping amongst others.
Ma, who says the products are inspired by the botanical splendour of her childhood on the Australian coast, is now looking to go international. With her entrepreneurial flair, the horizons seem limitless.