WHEN DR SK TAN MADE the decision to establish one of Singapore’s first aesthetic clinics in 1998, his dermatologist friends responded with scepticism, saying to him: “You siao (crazy). How to survive?” Few people at that time recognised the potential of aesthetic medicine. Even Botox had not yet gained approval from the US Food & Drug Administration for use on frown lines.
However, within its first year, the DRx Clinic began attracting more patients than Dr Tan could see. It turned out that there were many individuals willing to invest a significant amount of money in their appearance, although they might not readily admit it. The business thrived for a solid 12 years until he decided to sell it to the India-based skincare company Kaya in 2010, fetching a handsome eight-figure sum.
Despite the windfall, Dr Tan, who was 63 then, chose not to slow down. After his management contract with DRx ended, he ventured into a new frontier by opening the aesthetics clinic IDS (Innovative Dermatological Solutions) in 2014. IDS not only flourished but also expanded to include IDS Skincare, which develops and distributes a successful line of products catering to a global customer base. Additionally, he and his wife, Janifer Yeo-Tan, became owners of restaurants and bars in Kuala Lumpur, as well as properties around the world.
Pillars of success
Dubbed the “grandfather of Singapore aesthetics”, Dr Tan at 76 still finds his clinical work immensely rewarding: “I encounter patients, listen to their problems, and strive to find solutions. It’s a challenge that never tires me. I’m also involved in the development of skincare products, constantly innovating and creating unique treatment protocols for the benefit of my patients. Finding effective solutions brings me great satisfaction, and even when I create a good product, my goal is always to create an even better one.”
He attributes his success to two fundamental principles: excellence and integrity. He advises those he works with to prioritise these values over the pursuit of money. He firmly believes that by striving for excellence and practising integrity – being honest with both others and oneself about one’s capabilities – success will naturally follow.
Born and raised in Malaysia, his passion for excellence started early in life. He excelled in various activities such as rugby, martial arts, and bowling for the national team. He even played in a band and continues to find time today to practise his guitar before his workday begins. Describing himself as “very disciplined”, he sets out to accomplish tasks and perseveres until completion.
First published in The Business Times