Philip Chiu

Philip Chiu

4 July, 2012
Social values in business
Chairman and Managing Director, Serendipity House
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We talk with Philip Chiu of Serendipity House about his passion for making a difference to the earth through business. Serendipity House is the distributor of a number of personal care and home cleaning product brands in Asia including Seventh Generation, Simply Organic, BioKleen and Quash.
 
Ecozine: How did you become involved with Serendipity House?
 
Philip: I starting running Serendipity House in 2007. It’s a family business and because it needed my attention, I quit my job. I was regional manager of Yahoo. I gave that up and on zero salary, I ran this company. Today, we’re the leading company in this space. We’re all over, in stores like Three-Sixty and CitySuper, and we have over 400 products. We used to sell in Hong Kong only, now we distribute to Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Mainland China. We also sell to the mom and pop shops such as HealthGate. We sell to people that sell online as well.
 
Ecozine: Why did you decide to move from corporate business into family business?
 
Philip: I was probably the only one suitable for it, given my experience. I was also an investment banker before that. I’m a very hardcore business person. My vision for Serendipity House is to become a social enterprise. Every profit we make, we give back. The green space is a very tough space and people do it for the passion. You don’t do it for the money.
 
Ecozine: What factors influence your decisions when deciding on brands to distribute?
 
Philip: The key is being the best in the category. Not profit-wise; our main goal is to find the best products from all over the world. For example, we have Quash, our all-natural hand sanitizer. For our natural enzyme fighting cleanser, we have the BioKleen brand. The Simply Organic brand is the leading shampoo for salons. We also have the Himalayan crystal salts from the Himalayan Mountains. We pick very unique products. We are the only company that has the WD-40 competitor. We have the only chlorine free feminine napkins. We look at the category and see how to improve the category needing a product to differentiate. For example, the shampoo is an excellent brand story. The father who created the shampoo has a son who had leukemia and he needed shampoo his son could use when he recovered since he was allergic to the chemicals in other shampoos and that’s why he created the shampoo. We look for organic businesses that are small and we find the brands that fit that story.
 
Ecozine: With increasing health concerns, do you see a growing demand for eco-products in Hong Kong and Asia?
 
Philip: It’s part of the wealth effect. With wealth, you’re going to care about your health. There are so many witch doctors out there and little quality guaranteed. You need a scientific way to go about this. Green products are a trend but for me, it is about setting the trend and picking the best products. I see a lot of people selling these products now, but they have no reason besides making money.
 
Ecozine: What are some of the future plans for Serendipity House?
 
Philip: I want to build an industrial arm. I want to go beyond the kitchen and cleaning products and clean the earth. I want to take wastelands and clean them. I was born and raised in the US, but the area I want to help the most is here. The air in Hong Kong and China is horrible. I want to change the idea about making money. I want to show that if you focus on the love first, you’ll find the money. If you have the passion, you’ll make the money. That’s what separates me from my competitors.
 
Ecozine: How do you integrate these values into your company?
 
Philip: I believe in natural products. I believe in this space. But entrepreneurs need to do it not for the money. The buyers aren’t going to talk to you. In the office, our lights are eco-friendly and we’re using an air filter here in this room. Every person we hire, we see if they have passion for the job and love for the green space. I help the struggling business guy because I’ve been there. We also participate in events. I was in Taiwan donating products to communities affected by the earthquake. That’s different from competitors who don’t care. I have a long term view for Serendipity House. I believe it’s the right thing to do.
 

By: Ecozine Staff
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