Jason Lee, Founder of local fragrance label Scent by Six, on his mission to help people smell good and feel good, all while doing good (Image: Raymond Phang Photography)
Jason Lee seemed to have everything going for him in his career. Upon graduation, he was hired as a management associate and seconded to Jakarta, Indonesia, managing several key accounts for his company. At the peak of his career, he was crafting fragrances for some of the biggest names in the industry, like Tom Ford and Jo Malone.
But he eventually came to a realisation that money is not the be-all, end-all. “I struggled with finding my own definition of my passion and purpose [and] came to a conclusion that I personally wanted something more than money,” he said.
He quit his job and what followed was two arduous years of research and development, testing, and market validation before he finally launched his own company in 2016: Scent by Six, an artisanal fragrance label.
Jason’s bold move those years back has since paid off, although the journey has been anything but easy. Today, Scent by Six is dedicated not just to crafting beautiful fragrances, but also to uplifting the less fortunate. He works alongside beneficiaries like those from the Singapore Association for Mental Health and Caregiver Alliance to co-create fragrances.
“What we wanted to achieve is to really empower the less fortunate, to let them see the light and have a certain purpose in sharing what we do,” Jason shared. “When they see money coming in, I hope that the process will also give them a certain degree of hope.”
Investing in upskilling for increased wages
Investing in upskilling has not just helped Jason’s team gain new skills during the pandemic, but also helped to bridge generational gaps (Image: Scent by Six)
In his numerous years of being a business owner, Jason has had to take on many hats - as a salesman, marketeer, manager and more. But it is in his managerial and leadership functions that he found the most fulfilment.
“Managing people, motivating my teammates, and learning about leadership is something that is even more important compared to so many other aspects of the business,” he says. This is why Jason pays great heed to upskilling and nurturing his workforce.
Scent by Six has adopted various employee upskilling initiatives since the Covid-19 pandemic. Jason shares that when the pandemic struck, it became vital for all his employees to familiarise themselves with digital technologies so that they are able to maintain communication within the team and serve customers. For instance, he trained staff who are in their senior years how to use social media to talk to and engage with customers.
An additional perk to this is that it helped them to bridge the gap between younger and older staff, he added.
Besides upskilling, Jason is also a firm believer in reskilling. During the pandemic, Scent by Six brought on many staff members who came from different industries that were affected by lockdowns and travel bans. “We had the opportunity to…understand their strengths and the gaps that they need to bridge,” he shared. They made use of training programmes like the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation to reskill these individuals to equip them with the skills needed for their business. This programme was also supported by Workforce Singapore..
These upskilling and reskilling initiatives, together with the firm’s emphasis on paying fair wages, form a key components of being a Progressive Wage Mark employer, which Jason sees as a crucial part of ensuring that Singapore continues to thrive as a business hub. Scent by Six had received its Progressive Wage Mark accreditation earlier this year.
Administered by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) on behalf of tripartite partners, the Progressive Wage Mark recognises eligible firms that pay progressive wages to lower-wage workers (Image: GoBusiness)
“In 20 to 30 years’ time…our country will be a high wage, high tech, and labour non-intensive society,” he explains. “There has to be a way [for] wages to go up.”
By gradually calibrating wage adjustments to the conditions of the economy and labour market, Jason believes that this can be achieved in a sustainable manner. “The progressive wage model provides a very good platform for companies to work closely together in a tripartite manner to work on an appropriate wage level that is best in relation to what the average of each of our industries can take.”
While some business owners may see the progressive wage model as an additional cost for their business, Jason believes that everyone has “a responsibility to make sure that Singapore survives”.
“If Singapore does not survive, there is no place for us businesses to survive,” he says.
Navigating stormy seas
Scent by Six’s retail shopfront located at 313@Somerset (Image: Michael Chan)
Jason describes his entrepreneurship journey as swimming in the sea during a storm. “You see nothing but big waves… There’s uncertainty, there’s no shore to be seen, and you do not know when the end is near.”
Despite the challenges, however, he drew confidence in the support that Singapore offers for entrepreneurs today. There is a certain conviction in Singapore that if business owners are willing to get help from select government agencies, that they will be able to find their bearings somehow, he says.
The ease of gathering resources, applying for government grants and navigating regulatory matters today is a far cry from over a decade back when Jason was still studying entrepreneurship as a student.
For instance, the application of government grants and support schemes today all falls under a single platform and can be accessed via GoBusiness. Jason could even use the GoBusiness platform to apply for the Progressive Wage Mark.
“Back then, I had to navigate several platforms and that was very tedious,” Jason shared. This singular platform for all resources was particularly valuable during uncertain times like the pandemic, as it allowed business owners to find the answers to all their questions on one official government channel.
This took away a lot of worries and uncertainties from businesses, he said.
With sufficient government support and his own grit and determination, Jason has successfully weathered the storm of bringing his fledgling business off the ground and the hurricane that was the pandemic.
Now in his seventh year of business, Jason is looking to remodel the business in a bid to better serve his customers through tech enablement. “It is at the top of my mind, how we want to take the company forward to future-proof the business,” he says.
Through it all, Jason hopes to maintain his vision that when people come to Scent by Six, they “smell good, feel good, and do good as well”.
Join Jason in being a Progressive Wage Mark employer by applying through the GoBusiness Dashboard. Find out how you can upskill your employees through the SkillsFuture for Enterprise employee training guide as part of this journey.
This article is accurate as at 11 Oct 2023