Snail White's Saowakon Pornpatanarak Was Born To Succeed
Known fondly as Mink by family and friends, Saowakon Pornpatanarak is the driving force behind Namu Life Snail White, the Thai skincare brand that manufactures beauty products that can help generate radiance and vitality from within. In less than a decade Snail White, which uses snail secretion as its main ingredient, has grown to a position at the forefront of the industry, becoming a go-to product for countless young women in Thailand and overseas. But what of the lady who started it all?
Prior to becoming one of the country’s most prominent entrepreneurs, the deputy chief executive officer earned a fashion merchandising degree from Mesa College in San Diego. Mink then worked as a trainee for American Apparel before returning to Thailand. Combining her keen interest in fashion and her degree, she worked as a fashion buyer for approximately two years. “It was fun but ever since I was a little girl I’ve felt like I wanted to work on something that I could call my own,” says Mink. “In addition to fashion, I am—and always have been—a fan of beauty products.” Thus, when the opportunity came to create her own brand of skincare solutions manufactured by Do Day Dream, she didn’t hesitate. The ultimate goal behind the Snail White brand, she says, is to be able to offer real deep-skin health benefits.
As is often the case, the path to success was not always smooth. “Everything was a challenge, particularly at the beginning,” Saowakon says. Having started from scratch and without prior experience of the industry, she admits there was a steep learning curve but that she enjoyed learning on the job. And through perseverance, dedication and an eye-on-the-target attitude to work, she has turned her skincare brand into what it is today. “Now we are in a position where we are looking to increase our sub-brands down the line,” she explains. “I think one of the most important things to remember when you work in the marketing side of things is to really put yourself in the shoes of the clientele and be aware of their needs and feelings.” Business is certainly going well. The company, which is listed on the local stock market, launched Namu Life Snail White Gold—an age-reversal cream containing 24K gold—last year to much fanfare.
Although she doesn’t consider herself a workaholic, Saowakon’s job is a big part of her life. Managing work and personal life can be tricky and she confesses she failed miserably at it in the beginning of her journey with Snail White. “Back then I was so into my work,” she says. “A work-life balance was something I failed to maintain in the first few years. I worked all the time and when I was not at work I was thinking about it. I even dreamed about work in my sleep,” she laughs. In fact, Mink was so absorbed in her job that she ended up in hospital suffering from exhaustion. “It was a real wake-up call and I realised I had to have some downtime in my life. I still work a lot but I have other interests to take me away from the office,” she adds.
One of those who helps Saowakon escape the burdens of business is her husband. The couple married around five years ago and recently discovered they are expecting their first child. Although Mink admits she was a bit nervous during the first weeks of her pregnancy, she is now looking forward to motherhood. But that doesn’t mean she will be putting her feet up any time soon. On the contrary, Mink finds a certain catharsis in keeping busy. “Because people kept telling me to do it, I tried to take a month off recently but I think that made me more stressed and restless. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Work is my happiness. I could never be a stay-at-home mum and housewife. Out of the question. In any case, my office at home is the biggest room in the house,” she laughs.
Blessed with a natural grace, Mink is also known for her eye for fashion, a skill she developed in the early stages of her career. Always elegantly turned out, she says, “I love dressing up and mixing and matching clothes. I can’t really say I have a particular look because I love so many different styles.” Though she has fun attending Fashion Week events in Milan and Paris, she’s not one to follow trends slavishly and her choice of outfits varies according to her mood. But what is certain is that there is always an intriguing eccentricity to her style combined with a touch of vintage. “Although I think that since I became pregnant my tastes have become somewhat more dainty or feminine,” she muses. While she finds something to admire in many of the top couture brands, two of her favourites are Celine and Prada. “A big chunk of what I own are from these two fashion houses,” she smiles.
An animal lover with a particular fondness for dogs, away from work the busy executive is more than happy to unwind and lounge at home with her two labradoodles, John and Jane, fluffy companions she considers her other babies. A seasoned traveller in her professional role, particularly to Europe’s fashion capitals, she likes to get away at least once a year for leisure and at the top of her travel bucket list right now is a trip to the Bahamas. “I really want to visit Exuma Cays and swim with the famous feral beach pigs,” she laughs, adding, “So far, no one wants to go with me.”
While Thailand has seen an increase in the number of women entrepreneurs, Mink hopes to see more young women becoming independent and self-sufficient, taking risks to succeed on their own. “If there is something you really want to do, you must have the drive to see it through. Don’t be distracted by the irrelevancies of life. Get your dream up and running and always have a goal. As you work towards it the path will become clearer and after a certain point you will have the luxury of time to do other things.” Not that she personally intends to let go of the reigns any time soon. “Five or 10 years from now, I still plan to be a happy working mum,” she smiles, “Although perhaps the nursery at home will be bigger than my office.”
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- Photography John Tods
- Hair Santipong Khwanseng
- Make-Up Andi