Alli Sim is a dreamer. “I never think that anything is impossible or undoable,” says the founder and creator of Mmerci Encore, a Singapore-based natural treatments and aromatherapy house. “If an improbable idea comes to mind, I think, maybe not now, maybe not this season, but I never say never.”
It is this unaffected child-like enthusiasm that has led her to start Mmerci Encore: Aromatherapie Atelier, an online store selling unisex beauty products and body preparations personally handmade by Sim from natural ingredients sourced from far and wide. “I love travelling to these little farms or apothecaries in Melbourne and Paris, picking out just the right essential oils or chamomile buds.”
Having just returned from the Maldives, where she was hosted by a resort to sell her artisanal products, we sat down with Sim in her Singapore home (described by our photography assistant as “a slice of Paris in the Far East”) to talk about her brand and the importance of taking time out to recharge.
Norman Tan: What is your earliest memory with beauty?
Alli Sim: Spending my pocket money to buy a $4 DIY guide on homemade beauty products featuring flowers, fresh vegetables and fruit from the fridge. I remember putting my own spin on a few hair masks, with some interesting results. I guess I was a born beauty editor.
Tell us how your blog Mmerci Encore started.
There came a point where I found myself writing a lot about the commercial aspects of beauty in my role as a senior beauty editor in a top international female publication. All this talk about the efficacy and science behind products, the claims… you know, “smear this on and wake up to a younger you in seven days”. We’re all searching for a bit of hope in a jar, but the thing is, these solutions are only skin deep. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good lipstick or brightening serum as much as the next girl, but the more I searched for the crème de la crème of beauty products, the further removed I felt from what beauty actually is.
Mmerci Encore is a gratitude journal, created as a way to catalogue and capture all the fleeting moments of beauty. It’s a field guide through favourite poems and playlists, money-can’t-buy experiences and scents.
From Mmerci Encore, it’s clear that you’re passionate about finding beauty in little things. How is this reflected in your recently launched Aromatherapie Atelier?
It’s about creating a culture of gratitude and elevating little luxuries. Being thankful, even for the little things. For having a good hair day. For that first whiff when you open a new jar of scrub. For that incredible feeling when your head hits the pillow after a long day. The message is: don’t overlook anything. Beauty is all around us, you just have to keep your heart and senses open to it. And these little beauty preparations — our oils, our mists and scrubs — they’re so small and seemingly inconsequential, but being gifted one of these really perks up your spirit. It’s the beauty or scent equivalent of Proust’s madeleine. One taste, one whiff, and you are suddenly transported.
You use raw or organically sourced ingredients where possible. Why is this important to you?
The skin is the body’s largest organ and it absorbs everything you apply on it. I can’t speak for all women, but my daily make-up ritual involves enough synthetic chemicals as it is, so I wanted to go back to the roots of using clean, pure ingredients, fresh from farm or kitchen, to prepare gentle aromatherapy-based products. We come into contact with enough synthetic chemicals as it is, so I wanted products that were clean and fresh.
I understand that all your products are handmade?
We do by-the-batch beauty and these products are made to order, meaning nothing really sits on the shelf for too long. It’s fresher and more naturally potent this way. There’s a strong emphasis on these preparations being crafted by hand, so the human touch extends right up to the fact that after these items are blended and bottled, labels are individually handwritten and have that raw, personal touch to them.
Do you offer a bespoke service?
Currently I do organic body scrubs sur mesure and by appointment only. I talk to the client about their inspirations, favourite scents, and general lifestyle habits, before customising a scrub to suit their needs. It’s been quite popular, along with our off-the-shelf soap slices that people often buy as gifts.
You place a lot of importance on the ritual of beauty. Is the process as important as the product?
Definitely. We live in an age of instant results and fast fix-its and then wonder why it’s so hard to unwind and appreciate the moment. These rituals are that first step. It’s the idea of being quiet, even for a moment, to recharge your batteries. You light a candle, take a deep breath and wash your cares away. Bath time is the only place where you may be out of reach from the world, even if just for a moment. Scent is so powerful. It triggers and unlocks memories, and in the case of a lot of essential oils, promotes relaxation and eases anxiety.
What are your top beauty tips for men and women?
A good SPF moisturiser is your friend. Also, for smooth and supple skin, it’s important to exfoliate weekly and keep the body properly hydrated with a minimum of eight glasses of water a day. Cortisol from stress leads to break outs and speeds up ageing. So I remind my clients to eat antioxidant- and mineral-rich vegetables and fruits, and importantly, to stress less! Don’t feel guilty for having to take time out to regroup to recharge.
How would you describe the essence of Mmerci Encore in three words?
Handcrafted with love.