When Your Plan B Turns into Plan A with Susie Ma
Susie Ma is the Founder and CEO of Tropic Skincare. She is a philanthropist with a focus on creating a healthier, greener, and more empowered world. Tropic Skincare has been recognized at numerous stages, including “Fastest Growing Skincare Brand in the UK” by the Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 League Table. Most recently, it has been ranked the 14th best female-powered company in the UK by JP Morgan.
The company’s commitment to sustainability and disrupting the industry has also been recognized internationally with Marie Claire’s Sustainability Awards. In 2018, Susie was listed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Under her leadership, Tropic Skincare has funded a year’s worth of education for 4,000 children in rural Asia and a new forest with Forestry England in Hampshire in 2022.
At 15, Susie Ma and her mom moved from Australia to London. They struggled to make ends meet, so Susie decided to help her mom with the bills. That’s when she remembered spending time with her grandmother, who was a medicinal chemist, in tropical Nord Queensland, Australia. She taught Susie that our skin needs feeding with nourishing, healthy ingredients just as much as our bodies. Susie found her grandma’s recipe and began making body scrubs with natural ingredients.
This was her lightbulb moment for Susie. She would join her mom at London’s Greenwich Market to sell her body scrub. That Saturday at the market initiated a life-changing moment. She borrowed and invested 200 pounds in the products and after an exhausting day of selling, Susie remembers counting her money— nearly 1000 pounds—and realizing that “this was the beginning of everything.”
As a high school student, she wanted to do more. She headed off to college, where she majored in business so she could land a job where she could “make loads of money.” Right out of college, Susie landed a job as a foreign exchange trader at Citi Group. She achieved her dream of making lots of money. But by the end of her first work week, she felt something was missing. She quickly realized that she didn’t just want to be working to earn good money. Instead, she wanted a job where she could enjoy herself daily.
She applied to the United Kingdom’s version of The Apprentice, hosted by Lord Alan Sugar, a hugely successful entrepreneur, and investor. Out of 73,000 applicants, Susie made the final 16 candidates. She did not win, but while she was on the show, she restarted her Tropic Body Scrub business, counting on the show’s publicity to drive sales. It worked. She sold out of products instantly, which garnered the attention of Sugar, who wanted to help her. Susie convinced him to invest £200,000 to become a 50% partner in the company.
While the investment helped, Susie built on her direct sales model, turning her first 400 customers into ambassadors who could generate up to a 30% commission on sales. That network of ambassadors has now grown to more than 20,000 around the UK and 400 full-time employees.
Susie has focused on positioning Tropic as a model for the beauty industry, using sustainable packaging, and donating 10% of its profits “to good causes to help towards that infinite purpose, which is to help create a healthier, greener, and more empowered world.” Susie wants to show the world just how much difference you can make and show people that no matter who you are or where you’re from, and how old you are, you can make a difference.
Join us to listen to how Susie embraces challenges and opportunities, turns her Plan B into Plan A, and gives back to our planet and the underprivileged part of society.
Listen to Eudeshi Naidu, our special appearance from Dale Carnegie London, on how we can make a difference by applying the Dale Carnegie principles, going the extra mile, and creating a memorable experience for all.