The Business of Beauty: What makes Freia Aesthetics a bonafide beauty destination, according to founder Serene Seah-Ma

Beauty insiders


By Redzhanna Jazmin

Images: Freia Aesthetics
The Business of Beauty: What makes Freia Aesthetics a bonafide beauty destination, according to founder Serene Seah-Ma

What does it take to build a cult beauty brand? Serene Seah-Ma, the founder behind one of Singapore’s most popular medispas, explains ahead.

Walking into Freia Aesthetics is like stepping into paradise—that is, of course, if paradise was furnished with vintage Parisian staples and a tasteful blend of tones and textures. Nestled in the heart of The Five at Bukit Damansara, Freia Aesthetics is exactly the oasis one craves on a beauty getaway: luxurious and plush, but with a distinctly homely feel that puts you at ease as soon as you step into the space.

This is by design—every detail of the space has been hand-picked and curated to foster intimate rituals of well-being and mental beauty. But it’s not just a pretty facade. If you’re familiar with Freia, you’ll know that the award-winning medispa originally hails from Singapore. It was founded on the philosophy that scientifically proven aesthetic medicine and holistic beauty go hand-in-hand. The founding husband-and-wife duo, Serene Seah-Ma and Dr Harold Ma, have combined their respective expertise in business and medicine to deliver sensorial and efficacious treatments to their clientele, and it has earned their brand its prestige.

The medispa has already got a fiercely passionate following in Singapore, and we predict that the hype is only going to continue to grow on our shores. That said, it’s no easy feat to establish a brand internationally. So, what’s the secret behind Freia’s success? We spoke to Seah-Ma herself to learn more about Freia’s missions and services. From how Freia came to be to the challenges of running a business and more, read our full exclusive below:



Can you delve into Freia’s beginnings and missions?

“Freia is Nordic for the goddess of love and beauty. At its inception, Dr Ma had a vision to bring about a perfect balance where science meets art and an equal measure of compassion. He believes in creating beauty and harmony with a solid foundation backed by science.  As doctors, we are very passionate about good patient care and tangible results, but it must also be supported by effective tools and technology to achieve those goals. This is what a modern, savvy patient has come to expect. And I’m glad to say that 17 years on, with these guiding principles at the heart of our practice, we continue to blaze the trail in the aesthetic world.”



Could you walk us through your background and your journey from corporate worker to beauty entrepreneur?

“Born into a family of professionals, entrepreneurship was never in my vocabulary. My idea of success used to be climbing the corporate leader; proving that there is no glass ceiling for us women. The companies I was blessed to work in provided great insights into how exacting, strategic and visionary an organisation needs to be to be a game changer. Concepts of professionalism, efficiency, staying ahead of others and the art of pivoting were increasingly exposed to me.

“But it was only when I met my husband Dr Harold Ma in my late thirties that he showed me the relevance and intrinsic appeal of entrepreneurship. What was meant to be a short-term stint to give me better work-life flexibility with the impending arrival of my second child has morphed beautifully into a passion I now call my own—one that has taken on its own life and growth trajectory over the past eight years. 

“Freia has garnered a reputation for being home to niche beauty brands; thoughtfully curated facials and having a heart for our clients. I’m immensely proud of how far we have come; honoured to have won the trust and love of international publications and the many awards our facials have won.”



Could you talk us through Freia’s services, specifically how they differ in Malaysia from your Singapore outlets?

“For a start, Freia Aesthetics Malaysia will offer a more modest repertoire of services compared to Singapore. In Singapore, we offer close to 30 treatments, which we felt might be too overwhelming when we are newly establishing our brand presence in KL. This gives us time for us to refine certain protocols after gaining a more intimate understanding of the needs of our Malaysian community. Machines-wise, I would say we are comparable—where clients enjoy clinically proven technology like the Visia Skin Analysis, Hydrafacial, Intraceuticals oxygen system, LDM, LED and more. 

“We are, of course, going to grow our repertoire in 2024—clients can soon look forward to exciting scalp treatments, new brand launches and more lifting and firming treatment offerings.”


What inspired the expansion of Freia into Malaysia?

“Since pre-COVID days, we have served a sizable Malaysian clientele; many of whom planted the first seeds of expanding into Malaysia for us. The pandemic delayed expansion plans but we swiftly acted on this since the end of 2022. We are extremely thankful that we are now able to be closer to our community in Malaysia; being able to provide a similar menu of facial treatments and repertoire of products for them.

“The second reason is a ‘People Developmental’ one. Our manager who heads the KL outlet has been a long-time colleague and staff member of our Singapore practice. Ally is now able to reunite with her family of five after working in Singapore for over 15 years. As a fellow parent and her boss, I’m extremely grateful that Freia was able to develop her managerial skills through the years and to be able to fulfil this personal desire of hers—to someday return home and still be part of the Freia family.”



What do you think Malaysia’s beauty and aesthetics industry needs more of?

“We feel that the industry has so much potential to develop further. Malaysia has such a diverse and wonderful people of different ethnic backgrounds and needs. It is our vision to provide holistic, safe and effective beauty solutions to serve the community. Very often, it is either a good pampering experience without the science to back up treatments with real results, or vice versa, where the treatments do not focus on the client experience—only the results. We aim to bridge the two worlds to create the best possible client experience and clinical outcomes.”


Freia’s skincare partnerships are a key draw—can you explain how you selected the skincare brands offered in the medispa?

“Behind every brand we carry is a story of the affinity and connection I share with each. Some brands choose us (via word-of-mouth referrals from our strong overseas beauty community) and others we actively seek out. Regardless, I test every product that comes into the Freia fold. Brand curation takes time, dedication, effort, and passion. One cannot afford to be sloppy or biased. Many of our niche brands are founder-led, which means the OG founder is still actively involved in the research and of products. This direct connectivity to them is important because they are more willing to listen to concerns and objectively help clients. No brand lands on our shelf unless I use them for a couple of months and results stay consistently good. Consistency in performance is what will sustain a brand; far more than pure marketing or hype will. 

“Brands that I’m drawn to are very clean, sustainable and yet luxurious and effective. In a climate of global warming, we must preserve our earth and remember that everyone (us included) has a part to play in sustainability.”



What advice do you have for budding beauty entrepreneurs?

“Identify a niche for yourself and your brand so you don’t end up being ‘just another beauty brand’. That means you have to be true to yourself (not emulate someone else). Always be client-centric; do right by your clients and make sure you deliver stellar services and products. Clients don’t follow the beauty brands you carry; they follow who you are and what you stand for. And be prepared to work hard—possibly, the hardest you have ever worked!”


What are your plans for Freia in the coming years?

“Ask any of my team members and they will probably tell you I’m quite the visionary and have a rather low tolerance for the ‘status quo’. So, my top three plans for Freia are, firstly, to be a trusted leader in the medical aesthetics and Medi-spa arena in both Malaysia and Singapore. Secondly, it’s to constantly innovate, to never settle, to be at the forefront of beauty and aesthetics medicine and to educate clients on discerning between beauty hype and the validity of those trends. Finally, it’s to expand our footprint in this beautiful country further! Freia Aesthetics at The Five is but our first venture—of many more to come!”


Freia Aesthetics is open from 10am – 8pm from Monday to Saturday and 10am – 7pm on Sundays (by appointment only) at Suite C-2-3A Aras 2, Block C, The Five at KPD, Kompleks Pejabat Damansara, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur. 


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