Exclusive Interview with Chin Rui Shan, Founder of Gooberr

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Gooberr is a home-grown baby brand specialising in lactation products, baby accessories and skincare founded in 2019 by Chin Rui Shan.  Gooberr aims to make post-pregnancy much easier and much more enjoyable, through its range of Boobkies, or lactation cookies.  

Gooberr introduces a new range of lactation cookies, which boasts of five unique and delicious flavours not commonly seen in the market:  

  • Dark Chocolate Decaf
  • White Chocolate Matcha
  • White Chocolate Earl Grey
  • Gooberr’s Chocolate Chip
  • White Chocolate Strawberry

In addition, these tasty and nutritious cookies promote healthy lactation within 8 hours of consumption without additives or complicated side effects. The cookies are produced in a facility that possesses the Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) and Singapore Food Agency (SFA) Grade A in Singapore, Gooberr also ensures the highest quality of baking and packaging. Ultimately, Gooberr looks to alleviate lactation stress for mothers and help them better connect with their babies, through these yummy snacks packed with all-natural goodness, such as fibres and antioxidants.

Our Parenting World – OPW Media team spoke to Chin Rui Shan where she shared more with us about how these yummy Boobkies can help mothers throughout their motherhood journey and about her company, Gooberr. Read on to find out more. 

Exclusive Interview with Chin Rui Shan, Founder of Gooberr

1. Please share with us more about your background? What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

Rui Shan: I graduated from New York University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and a Masters Degree in Accounting. I started my career in Finance as a credit analyst, working my way up to Portfolio Manager.

After a while, I felt jaded and wondered about my purpose. It was a combination of me seeing my mum ill with cancer and witnessing my father’s success in his own business, which inspired me to start my own. My father led by example. Though his parents were teachers, he started out as a contractor, slowly perfecting his craft to become a developer himself, flipping homes.

He eventually got his big break in developing Bay Hotel Singapore, which held its grand opening in 2012, later expanding to Vietnam and launching Bay Hotel Ho Chi Minh in 2016. Witnessing his hard work and rise in the business community was a true inspiration.

Unfortunately, working with a strong-headed entrepreneur while having many ideas of my own did not pan out so well 😂, spurring me to try and start something by myself.

2. What inspired you to set up Gooberr and how did you start up your business?

Rui Shan: My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago. We opted for a mastectomy and thought everything was going to be fine. However, she was re-diagnosed with Stage 4 adenocarcinoma, a year ago, which meant the cancer had since spread to her heart, lungs and bones. We were shocked and devastated.

After talking to many specialists, we realised how important food is in the fight against cancer. I wonder a lot now if things would be different had we taken note of this back when she was first diagnosed. I started going through ingredient labels of everything my mum ate and noticed the many additives in the food we eat.

It got me thinking about how maybe, if we took care of mummies’ health first, especially when they’ve brought a new life into the world, that perhaps we could make a difference there. Because when mums pour everything they have into nurturing their babies, they sometimes forget to take care of themselves. Gooberr really is a brand inspired by the love mothers give, as we seek to find a way to give back.

I also believe in value-added products for mothers, and so I think about what products I can curate that are helpful, that can solve maternity problems and that make mums feel better.

This belief extends to our skincare range as well; our skin products are free of steroids, parabens, artificial colours, and fragrances. We target common skin issues like eczema, mosquito bites and rashes. When you’re breastfeeding, you don’t want to be using steroidal creams as it gets absorbed into your bloodstream.

The same goes for babies’ skin, where for the first six months, a baby’s skin is very delicate and thin. For me, every ingredient and every decision is deliberate. I strongly believe every mum and her loved ones deserve only the best, and this applies to all our products, edible or not.

As for the second part of your question, I wanted to create a better offering for new mothers, since the lactation cookies that were already on the market were being heavily marketed to new mums despite contains additives. Once I zoomed in on the product as something that is within my capabilities, I registered Gooberr in mid-2018, and it took about seven months from then to launch.

3. What are the challenges you faced when setting up Gooberr and how did you manage to overcome them?

Rui Shan:  With lactation cookies, education is a big factor because there is a functional element to them, as compared to regular cookies, which people eat whenever they feel like eating them.

I started this company using my own savings and was very reluctant to spend money on marketing because every dollar came out of my hard-earned savings. I felt that if my products are good, people will talk about it and recommend it to others. Unfortunately, I quickly realised that this couldn’t happen if customers don’t even know you exist. It also doesn’t mean throwing your money away on Google ads – which I did and got zero conversions. Targeted marketing and a good marketing campaign with the right information can go a long way. It also means a lot of interacting with my customers one on one, answering any questions they may have as a lot are new mothers!

More recently, COVID-19 also affected my business in some ways. For instance, retailers had to close their shops and throw out inventory at consignment stores, meaning I had to deal with the loss of sales from those avenues. I also faced many problems with suppliers as I was unable to get key ingredients and packaging due to international logistical issues, compounding the loss in sales.

4. Can you tell us more about your Mummy-friendly product offerings and Gooberr’s new range of lactation cookies and what’s so unique about them?

Rui Shan:  At Gooberr, not only do I conduct research, I continually consult and engage with industry experts throughout the creation process to make a product that will work for my customers.

For example, in creating some of our skin products, we partnered with local laboratories in Singapore to customise products to our specifications. We consulted pharmacists and chemists and had our products lab-tested to ensure they met quality standards for our customers.

Not everything natural is suitable or beneficial for yourself or your baby’s skin. Essential oils, for example, are becoming a mega-industry, with their many health benefits touted extensively. However, in the hands of non-professionals who don’t use the correct diluting techniques, overly-potent oils, such as tea tree or thyme, can lead to chemical burns or irritation when rubbed on the skin. Worse still, if accidentally swallowed, these oils can be deadly. Here at Gooberr, we always defer to professionals to ensure the highest safety standards for our customers.

As for our cookies, when we say no unnecessary additives, like chemical flavourings, we mean it. Many bakes contain extracts, vanilla extract being the most common of all. Extracts are made by soaking ingredients in chemicals to extract the flavour out, and a commonly used chemical is propylene glycol – this is also used as car antifreeze.

Why consume this even if it’s just a drop? When you’ve just brought a new life into this world, you need nutritious foods to heal and provide your baby with the best nutrient-rich food – breast milk. There simply isn’t anything better, and it’s free!

Most lactation cookies use brewers yeast (a by-product from the beer-making process) and fenugreek as main galactagogue ingredients. We do not use fenugreek, which is traditionally used to induce labour, as it is unsafe for pregnant women to consume. In addition, the brewer’s yeast we use is carefully grown on certified non-GMO sugar beet molasses instead of the typical kind that is recovered from the beer brewing process. This means that we have a better taste profile, meaning we can use less sugar in our cookies. In addition, we are also Halal-compliant as a result of this process.

5. More on the cookies, what was the creation, testing process like for making these cookies?

Rui Shan: It took months of baking almost every other day to come up with a flavour that works with our specifications since we don’t have the help of extracts to enhance the flavour or texture. Hence, we shipped in ingredients from the United States of America to make sure our mummies get the best products. It is pricey, but it is never about sourcing the cheapest ingredients for the highest margins. To ensure that the product works I also had samples gifted to nursing moms to get feedback.

A big thing about the quality of our Boobkies is that we bake them in an SFA Grade A and FSSC Certified Facility in Singapore, which means they meet professional hygiene standards. Traditionally, a lot of lactation cookies are home-baked, and while some customers like the homey feel of them, they do not realise home-baked cookies can mean lapses in hygiene as there is no government oversight. We saw tighter enforcements for this during the pandemic when home businesses were not allowed to continue operating. Rest assured that all handlers of Gooberr’s Boobkies wear hair nets, masks, gloves, and aprons to ensure we meet global food safety standards.

We also chose opaque packaging to prevent premature breakdown of cookies before our customers have a chance to enjoy them. This is because vitamins and nutrients are generally sensitive to the effects of temperature, oxygen, and light. Many vitamins are known to be specifically vulnerable to degradation by UV light, including vitamin A, B2 (riboflavin), B6, B12, and folic acid – which are some of the key vitamins in our cookies! A dark environment without exposure to light can also help with the temperature inside the bag.

6. Why did you choose the flavours you have and how did you come up with the flavours?

Rui Shan: It is still quite difficult now to come up with new flavors due to our limitation of not being able to use extracts, as I mentioned earlier. Hence we don’t have the traditional plain chocolate chip or butterscotch flavours. Instead, we naturally occurring, strong tasting, dried ingredients such spices, tea or even coffee to give our cookies vibrant flavours. I really wanted to come up with a pandan cookie as an ode to our Singaporean roots but pandan juice is an extract and I’m having trouble having the natural pandan flavors come through. I have a lot of ideas on flavors but it doesn’t always pan out unfortunately, so I make the best by experimenting with other healthy, clean and nutritious ingredients.

7. What are the ingredients that go into these cookies, and can you share a little more about how they help induce lactation?

Rui Shan: Lactation cookies are just normal cookies with certain ingredients known as galactagogues to help support and boost milk supply. These galactagogues are mostly rich in vitamins and nutrients so it’s actually good for all humans! It’s really a supplemental product. The hope is that by consuming these galactagogues, you’re providing your body with the right building blocks of nutrients and vitamins to help stimulate more breast milk supply. That is why I always say lactation cookies are great for the whole family to consume, as they’re normal cookies with healthy superfood ingredients.

8. How do you differentiate Gooberr’s lactation cookies, compared to others in the market?

Rui Shan: We are differentiated by having clean Boobkies that are free of any nasties, as elaborated in the previous question.

9. What should mothers look out for when choosing the right lactation aid for their consumption?

Rui Shan:  Definitely, lactation cookies are not the only aid available, it really also depends on every nursing moms’ unique journey. A lot of things can affect breast milk supply.

There are many reasons why mums could face a shortage of breast milk supply.
– Stress
– Insufficient nutrition
– Not latching or pumping enough
– Clogged ducts
– Return of menstrual cycle
– Falling sick
– Insufficient glandular tissue
– Other health issues (thyroid, hormonal complications)

There are different ways to approach the issue. Sometimes with cases of a returned menstrual cycle or a common illness, simply eating lactation cookies is enough. Otherwise, mothers can try the following:

– Pump often. Sometimes it’s a demand and supply issue. If you don’t pump often enough your body will think it’s producing too much for your baby and reduce the amount of milk it’s making. One method to try is power pumping!
– Consider having a breast massage by a professional. This can really help with milk flow and clear any blocked ducts.
– Seek more advice from a certified lactation consultant or specialist. Though not compulsory, this would help make your unique breastfeeding journey easier.

Given that lactation cookies are supplemental, what works for some, may not work for others. I find that a combination of methods such as power pumping and postpartum breast massage, together with lactation cookies, can be better suited to obtain optimal results. For example, if ducts are clogged, lactation cookies can help increase milk supply, but the clogged ducts would prevent any expression of the milk! The mum will have to clear the ducts through a professional breast massage to aid milk flow. Overall, there are several reasons why ones’ milk supply may not be up to par and it’s important to treat the root of the issue.

10. What’s your advice for those who want to start their own business? What preparation work and mindset do they need to have?

Rui Shan: Financial planning is critical, figure out your capital startup costs, whether you have enough to fund it, and for how long you can sustain a cash flow negative business. How much time do you have to invest, and do you need to quit your stable job to pursue this? If you are leaving a full-time job, then ensure you have enough savings to tide yourself, your family, and your business. Most startups do not achieve net positive in the first year. It takes time and effort to grow your business, so be ready for a wild ride!

11. Any tips on how one can be a successful entrepreneur and succeed in the competitive market?

Rui Shan:  Cashflow is key. I always go conservative on sales projections because revenues can fluctuate drastically but costs are usually anticipated. If you intend to start a business with high capital startup costs and require constant capital injections to keep the company afloat, always ensure you have enough to cover yourself and your staff. Ask yourself how long can you stay in business with minimal sales. Otherwise, expect complications to arise as soon as you run out of funds. Over time, learn from your failures as much as your successes. There are always going to be new competitors entering the market, so capitalise on what makes you different. Also, keep learning from new technologies and the ever-changing market landscape. Keep your edge.

12. How do you create and increase your brand awareness and promote your products to the market?

Rui Shan: For my specific type of business, product range, and customer base, I have found that the best mode of promotion is through reviews, as mummies want to know that the products work. So for Gooberr, working with social media influencers and encouraging moms to send in their feedback really helps.

13. Can you share some success stories of how your products have helped your clients?

Rui Shan: Success varies widely. As I mentioned, lactation cookies are purely supplemental products, like Vitamin C gummies you might take. I’ve had moms write in telling me how they’re so happy that they were able to increase their supply by 20ml and that means the world to them. Other moms were able to double their supply 250ml to 550ml or from 180ml to 350ml. And sometimes some moms don’t need to increase milk supply, but they want more fatty nutritious milk for the baby, which they achieved by consuming the cookies. I consider all of these as success stories!

My Boobkies have also helped mums from around the world. I have loyal international customers from Canada and Indonesia who tell me they love how Gooberr’s cookies are completely free of additives and that they can’t find something like that where they live.

14. What are some of your favourite skincare and beauty tips that you would like to share with our Mummy readers?

Rui Shan: I believe in a light chemical peel two to three times weekly to give you that glow from within. I recommend using products with lactic acid if you’re trying such acids for the first time, or if you have sensitive skin. If you have normal, oily, or more seasoned skin, you could use glycolic acid instead. Your skin may peel at the beginning because it’s not used to it, but it’s great for sloughing off dead skin cells and encourages cell regeneration. Instead of sugar/coffee/microbead scrubs, which I find is harsher for your skin.

15. Lastly, what do you see for your business in the next 5 years and does it include any plans for expansion?

Rui Shan: I never wanted to typecast Gooberr as a purely lactation cookies brand, and I hope to be able to continue curating value-added products to mothers. I’m currently working on two new cookie flavours that will have the Boobkies be in shocking blue and pink! Never from food colouring, but from superfoods like blue spirulina and pink pitaya (red dragonfruit), which increase the nutritional value of our cookies to mums. I’m also working on more skincare products like lip balms!

I am looking to expand overseas, and we are currently offering affordable shipping to Malaysia. However, with the COVID-19 situation, travelling is out of the question, so now we will have to monitor the situation.

Thank you Chin Rui Shan for taking our interview!

All the above images credit to Gooberr

Besides lactation cookies, Gooberr has a variety of products like lactation tea, baby accessories  and it has also expanded its products offering to include skincare products to treat eczema and dry skin common among mothers and babies, by using 100% plant-derived ingredients. To find out more and to purchase the products, please visit gooberr.com

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