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Warning! Revolutionary contents – may cause excessive beauty and smiles. Open at your own risk.
The bright white on pink messaging on the side of the box told me what the wording on the top confirmed – my newly ordered Foreo Luna ISSA 2 toothbrush had arrived.
This is no ordinary toothbrush, it is the world’s first silicone model, which besides a really cool design boasts the claim that it only requires one charge every 365 days.
Now, while admitting that my new ‘Moodie Blue’ device most certainly won’t cause ‘excessive beauty’ in my case, it most certainly does make me smile. As does the whole Foreo approach to business, one based on an unwavering obsession with innovation and on doing things in the right way and for the right reasons.
The reason I mention my purchase is not to plug the product but that, coincidentally, I had the pleasure a few days later to meet with the man who created Foreo, Filip Sedic.
I first met Filip on 11 September 2019 at the opening of the expanded Duty Free Americas store in The Venetian Macau Resort Hotel in the good company of the irrepressible Global Travel Retail Director Gary Leong, who has driven Foreo’s stellar success in the channel over recent years. It was a happy, celebratory occasion, back in those halcyon days before the term COVID had ever been uttered.
You don’t need to spend too much time with Filip, born in Sarajevo and now based in Hong Kong having spent many years in Shanghai, to know that here is an extraordinary human being, warm, funny and deeply charismatic on the one hand; a creative genius on the other, relentless in his quest for discovery. Throw in a deep concern for our planet and you have the recipe for one heck of a conversation.
That duly transpired in interview form in July 2020 as Foreo got set to launch their state of the art new beauty tech innovation FAQ, which the company aims to build into the world’s most coveted anti-aging device.
On that occasion we were talking on Zoom, Filip at his beautiful home in Deepwater Bay, Hong Kong, me in London, shortly before I too departed for Hong Kong and would become my permanent abode. I rate it as one of the most stimulating interviews I have conducted in over three decades of travel retail journalism. As I noted in the prelude, ‘An interview with Sedic is a philosophical and semantic sojourn that leads down multiple byways, stopping at various junctures to discuss product, passion, and the planet.’
Many things stuck with me from that interview, most notably his reaction when I asked him – rather tritely in hindsight – whether he would define his creation, Foreo (the name represents ‘for everyone’), as a beauty tech company or a lifestyle brand: “To be honest, I would prefer not to define myself at all, because all my life I have been trying to fight definitions,” he replied.
“That’s because I believe definitions are one of the big problems for the progress that we are making in the world – when you define something, you lock something.”
You don’t and can’t lock Filip Sedic, a man whose job title of CIO (Chief Imagination Officer) sums up neatly how we approaches business. This week I had the great pleasure of meeting him face to face again at Foreo HQ in Hong Kong’s southside area of Wong Chuk Hang. As I waited for him in the extraordinary space Foreo has created in a giant converted industrial building, I was reminded of something else he said during that first interview.
“If you are innovative in product, you must be innovative in other ways – in how your HR is working; how your sales, marketing, and inter-people connection in the company are working – you have to be innovative in everything. I can’t believe that someone can create innovative product if the company looks like any other company. It can’t be real.”
I can tell you, Foreo does not look like any other company. The whole office space is like something out of a fantasy Carlsberg ad, with brilliantly coloured chairs and sofas; table football, pool table and dart board; well-stocked wine and beer fridges; and a fantastic sense of freedom. It’s the sort of environment that almost breeds creativity.
During the pandemic, Filip has introduced a new organisational concept to the company, what the Japanese dub an ‘amoeba structure’, whereby each department acts as an independent market-oriented unit in order to maximise innovation and lessen dependence.
Why amoeba? “We have made the organisation so that every team has their one head and two arms and two legs, so each can survive and work on their own without the others,” he explains. “People get through too much relying on others so if someone does not do their job, then the whole chain falls. That’s why I think it will be very interesting to see how this new structure would work. I’m very, very optimistic and excited to see.”
Over the subsequent hour and later a pleasant lunch at the highly-recommended Africa Coffee & Tea in Wong Chuk Hang, I learned a lot more that Filip is optimistic about. You’ll have to wait for my interview in coming week but I promise you that’s it another fascinating read.
As I left the office that day, one of Filip’s team kindly presented me with some Foreo products. Among them, I discovered later, was another LUNA Issa 2, this time in light blue. I might struggle a little (make that a lot) to acheive excessive beauty but I now have no excuse for any shortage of smiles.