Wonder Woman: Carol Ong of Bebebalm

By Anabela Mok 2021-04-07 12:39:35

Busy mum of three kids, advertising veteran and entreprenuer Carol Ong shares how she found inspiration out of her own desperation to create skincare brand Bebebalm.

Busy mum of three kids, advertising veteran and entrepreneur Carol Ong shares how she found inspiration out of her own desperation, to create skincare brand, Bebebalm. 

I am a third generation Chinese-Filipino, who was born and raised in the Philippines. I came here 15 years ago to help with the China startup of ad agency BBH (Bartle Bogle Hegarty). Back then, China advertising wasn’t as developed; coming over meant I had to let go of everything I held dear-my thriving career and an established life for the unknown. But I’ve been yearning to come full circle with my China roots and to learn Mandarin. I also felt that I’d regret passing up the opportunity to work at one of the world’s best ad agencies. I was the first Filipino to join BBH globally, and the first Filipino creative in China advertising. What if I failed? I stopped overthinking and packed a suitcase. 


What inspired you to develop Bebebalm?

I didn’t intentionally start a business. It was born from my desperation. My baby was born with very dry, itchy eczema. Nothing was working. We tried medicine, moisturizers, even changing our diets. We were prescribed with steroids, which was okay at first, but it thinned out our baby’s skin. His rash kept rebounding faster and angrier. Eczema has no cure, I learned. So, I changed the question, “How can we help skin get healthier?” My husband is a doctor and biochemist, I’m geeky in traditional remedies. We combined our knowledge in Science and Nature to find effective yet gentle plant-based solutions. Ta-dah! Bebebalm was born. 


What is the factor that contributed to your success?

It is a business being built by fans, who call themselves Bebelievers. Each original Bebebalm product was created to solve a need of a loved one. They had to work. They were not for sale. I would make batches out of my kitchen, and gift extras to friends in need. Word got around and we would get calls from strangers, from China to Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, USA, even Europe & Africa! Fans convinced us we must make it available to help more families. Fans designed our first packaging, opened our first Taobao shop, got us in bazaars and in media features. They sell in their circles and recommend to their friends. We are so grateful for our angels. 


How do you stay motivated?

I know what it’s like to see the discomforts in my child, how it could disrupt a household. If someone needed a product urgently, when I’d get home from the office at 1 or 2 am, I would make a batch. Receiving random fan messages or good reviews add fire to my belly, and I grow strong. 


What made you decide to quit your job and focus on your business?

In advertising, I’d get a high when we win in international awards or launch a successful campaign. In Bebebalm, I get the same joy when I receive notes from people thanking us for these little comforts. A dad wrote that his baby had diaper rash for weeks and kept everyone awake with her cries. They tried Bebebalm, that’s the first night everyone slept. Bebebalm allows my creativity to help families stay healthy and feel good. That’s more fulfilling than getting people to consume more booze and candies through advertising. In the end, it wasn’t courage. It was my fear of regretting it if I don’t give this dream a chance. 


What is your proudest moment?

What really makes me beam with pride are my kids. Workwise, milestones such as the first time we produced in a factory. Inventing a product that solves a problem. Big brands noticing what we do & want to do collaborations. Our Mead Johnson x Bebebalm product is finally out! 

I have a tagline for my life, “Less Regrets”. Whenever I’m on crossroads, both paths have equal pros and cons, I ask myself: When I’m 90 years old and look back, which path would make me regret less?