Image: Reuben Foong
For many women, much in life is not simply given to them. Breitling ambassador Caxsandra Tan knows this well. As a self-made entrepreneur and team athlete with wakesurfing school Wakemusters, she has had to build her business and her reputation in the sporting world painstakingly on her own — that, on top of dealing with gendered critiques about her abilities and appearance.
“I’ve never been bothered with how people have viewed me over the years,” says Tan, who set up her own beauty brand, byCaxs, in 2017. “It truly never occurred to me to change, to be simpler, or to be more modest in my dressing.
Tell me about byCaxs. Why did you want to leave a comfortable full-time job and start your own business?
When I first started byCaxs, everyone was obsessed with the K-beauty look. And K-beauty back then was more about the “no makeup” look, how to look more natural, how to have glowy skin — but I was never into it. I was still into the winged eyeliner, the smoky eye, the full lips — I knew that it was very niche, but I knew it existed. And I knew that there were other girls like me who would enjoy bolder, louder looks.
When I started byCaxs, it was really with the aim in mind: That I wanted everyone to be able to try bold looks without feeling shy, or ashamed, or uncomfortable. Because it’s about our culture — where women are more shy to show who we really are; we are afraid of being judged.
So we have tapped onto another side of women, allowing them to feel a bit more comfortable in their own skin. While my products do enhance the looks — eyes, lashes, things like that — I actually want women to feel more confident in what they want to look like. If they want to look bolder, they should feel the freedom to do so, and not feel shy about it.
Women are often judged rather harshly on their appearances. Have you experienced this in your life?
For me, I would enter the office on days where everyone’s working from home, and I would have a full face of makeup, in my highest heels. No one would see me, I wouldn’t even take a single selfie. But it makes me feel better. And there are days I would go for events with no makeup on at all. I really think, at the end of the day, it is about how you feel, and how you want to present yourself.
That’s also the logic behind byCaxs: it’s really not about doing it for other people. It’s just about feeling your best. I feel really happy when my clients tell me how they’ve tried our products and it has changed their life. It sounds really shallow — like how can it change someone’s life? — but I think it empowers them in a way. Like: ‘Hey, I can actually use blue lenses, and I’m confident enough to wear it.’
At the end of the day, that’s what you want. As long as you feel good, then I don’t think it matters how other people see you.
You’ve spent many years in the public eye. How do you deal with the pressure that comes with it?
On social media, everybody has a say in your life, in what you do, or how you dress. And they think that they have a right to it. I feel that if you want to put yourself out there, there are definitely going to be people who do not feel the same way as you. So I do feel that it’s important to know yourself — especially as a woman — to know what you stand for, and what you believe in, so that when people do speak, it does not bother you.
I have never been bothered by how people have viewed me over the years. I do know that the way I carry myself is not very conventional. But it truly never occurred to me to change, to be simpler, or to be more modest in my dressing. It has never bothered me. I’ve never, ever, felt the need to be a different person — to change the way I did my makeup, or my hair. I know who I am, as a woman, I know my values, and what I stand for.
Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
The friends that I have are the friends I’ve had since I was 10. I am an introverted person, but when byCaxs opened its first physical store last year, it forced me to come out of my comfort zone. I had to speak directly to consumers, I’ve run the store myself. I’m normally super reserved, but that really had to change. But that also means that during my off time, I really try to switch off.
Looking back on how far you and your brand have come, do you feel like you’ve ‘made it’?
Projects like these always make me think back on how I get started, and I do think that my entire team and I have really worked really hard to be where we are now. But it will never be enough. I think that there is so much potential. And I think that is what makes every day more exciting, because I know that there’s so much more to reach, and there’s so much more that we can do. While I know that there is a huge potential, I am very proud of where we’ve come and where we are at the moment.
I think that no matter at which point of time in my life, if you asked me whether the things that I do, or the person that I am, whether it’s enough, I don’t think there will ever come a day that I would say that I’m enough. But that comes from a place of always wanting to improve and be better.
This interview first appeared on L’Officiel Singapore.
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