Beautiful packaging, a dedication to craft and a love for making handmade apothecary goods characterizes Quynh Le and Huy Anh’s A Banker’s Secret. This splendid collection of handmade apothecary products is so enchanting, adding to my belief that soap makers are at the top of the branding game these days. I’ve been following this pair on Instagram for some time now and am so pleased to introduce their creations to LAB readers. The products in the A Banker’s Secret shop all feature premium essential oils and all natural ingredients. Isn’t it nice to meet such talented handmade apothecary makers from the other side of the globe? Let’s get to know them a bit better in the following interview.
Foundation: How did you start your handmade apothecary business? What inspired you to create?
Let us talk about ourselves in 3rd person for a while. Both of us, Quynh Le (Ms.) and Huy Anh (Mr.) are blue collar office people. Quynh Le works in banking, Huy Anh designs whatever he can think of. Quynh Le deeply care about the taking care of one’s body and skin as healthily and as naturally as possible.
As a therapeutic past-time, Quynh Le started mixing and blending at home to create what later became our first-ever product: Sea Salt & Turmeric Body Scrub. A few of jars gifted around the office later, she was requested to make more for sale. A design nerd as Huy Anh has always been, he requested that the product should have a name, hence A Banker’s Secret. Then it should have a logo, then it should have proper packaging & label. One thing led to another. We started to research and learn more about the art of esthetics. We started stocking more and more ingredients in our small apartment. Quynh Le worked double time to experiment and create more recipes and products for nearly 1 year; before both decided to take the plunge.
Formation: Let’s talk about the process. Why did you choose the e-commerce platform for your shop? How have you grown your business?
We love the e-commerce platform. Maybe this is not the most universal opinion, but we do feel that the online platform – website, social networks, e-commerce – are possible the most patient, careful and personal way to build a business. We understood that we did not, and still not :D, have the capital to invest in bigger formats of production or distribution.
So we took our time to focus on the quality of the product, on research and studying about the ingredients, on testing our creations, on changing and fixing our recipes, on spending time answering many question on Facebook and emails as detailed as possible. On designing the boxes, the labels, the wrapping papers, the stickers, the tags… on cutting, gluing, wrapping, packing everything ourselves. We still do after 3 years.
Growing the business for us is also a very organic process. We are not educated on the business side of things, so our strategy is most common sense. We create the best possible website in our abilities so more and more customer can comfortably shop online. We take the best possible photographs in our abilities that can represent our products. We do invest in a small retail space in the city (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) and restock as often as possible. The more money we make, the more we invest in our ingredients, tools and studio space. We are like a library, if our products are books.
Friends: Who are the artists that you admire? Any role models?
We do admire many and many artists and makers around the world. Every time we travel, we look for and collect as much as we can afford, may they be soaps, or notebooks, tea towels… as all of them inspire us to be better. To name, we would like to say that Saipua got us into deciding that we should do our own thing. Aesop is always a model we look up to.
Fears: What struggles have you had to overcome? What are your biggest challenges? How do you fight a creative block?
We’d like to consider ourselves an artisanal brand. We put a lot of our personal feelings in our products, what we say, what we show, what we do. So the struggle is basically the mental exhaustion. We constantly look for balance between the rewards of finance and the creativity. And this is not easy nor simple.
As for creative block, nothing a long vacation cannot fix.
Future: Where would you like to see your handmade apothecary shop/collection go? What’s in the immediate future?
We are actually more ambitious with developing our studio space, for both work and living. Immediate future: doing what we do even better. A further future: maybe a bathhouse.