Soo Kian Kheng, the co-founder of Buds Organics, tells Sushma Veera what fatherhood means to him
WHEN Soo Kian Kheng was a child, his father was always at work to provide for his seven children. The older Soo, who worked in a sawmill, was not often home.
“The older generation was more into earning money to provide for the family. My dad would be at work from 8am and at times, won’t be home till 10pm. We hardly communicated with him. He was never in touch with us emotionally,” says Soo, a research and development director at I-Green (M) Sdn Bhd, which he and his sister set up to research and develop certified organic skincare for babies and adults under the brand name, Buds.
Soo realises that parents need to communicate with their children. When he became a father, he made sure that he was very much a part of his children’s life.
“I want to be there for my children all the time and to guide them. I want to be close to them. This is what I am doing with my three children. We are close and at times, I can read their minds. My 11-year-old son, Sang Koon, would often ask how I know what was going on in his mind,” he says, smiling.
Soo says fatherhood is different now from what it was before. He says children now needs more guidance and understanding and want parents to listen to their opinions.
“It is not like before when we just did what our parents wanted. Children nowadays are opinionated and often, their views are agreeable too.”
With a twinkle in his eyes, Soo says his children are “his life” and like any father, he does what is best for them.
“My wife always says that my two daughters are my girlfriends. They are my angels, my princesses. It is not easy to describe my love for them ... all that I can say is that it is unconditional love. In return, I don’t ask for much, just that they understand my love for them,” he says.
Describing himself as a family man, Soo says that he enjoys spending time with his wife and children.
“I love reading to them. Sometimes, I get them to read together. It is a nice bonding session. We also often go to the park or the shopping complexes. Each has his or her own preferences. While my son enjoys computer games, my daughters love shopping sprees.”
During school breaks, Soo often plans family trips. The recent holidays, he took his family to the Bukit Gambang Water Park, where the children had lots of fun.
“It is nice to see them laughing and having fun,” he says.
Soo, who had earlier developed a skincare range for his sister, Siew Peng, had to put on his thinking cap again for his children.
“She challenged me to develop skincare products for her. I took up the challenge and hence the company was formed.”
They were also responsible for the development of Buds Organics, a range for babies and kids. Esmeria Organics is the first Malaysian certified organic skincare brand to date, carrying the full range of facial cleansers, toners, moisturisers, body lotion, shower gel and haircare products.
I-Green products are certified by Ecocert (one of the world’s most established and recognised organic product certifiers).
Soo’s daughters — Hui Xin, 7, and Hui Jing, 6 — suffered from eczema when they were babies. When he realised that his children had sensitive skin, he tried to find a cure.
“I got more worried when I could not find suitable skincare products. Each time, the doctors suggested that we use soya-based milk and steroid-based creams. My wife and I were worried about the side effects of these creams. I had to do something as I did not want to expose them to steroids at such a tender age,” recalls Soo.
As he had already developed other natural and organic products under the Buds range, Soo used his knowledge of plant extracts to look for a steroid-free option.
“I spent countless hours on research for plant-based ingredients that were known to help with allergies and yet moisturises,” he recalls.
A year later, he developed the Buds Super Soothing range for eczema and his daughters were cured.
TIME TO CELEBRATE
While growing up, Soo says Father’s Day was not much talked about compared to Mother’s Day. In fact, he does not really recall celebrating it, adding that it was just another day for them.
As such, Soo says there were no words to describe his feelings when he first received his children’s hand-made cards.
“I really look forward to getting these cards. They also give me drawings and bookmarks since I love reading. I treasure them and put these items in a special box ... my treasure box.”
Soo says every Father’s Day, he and his siblings will make a trip back to Taiping for a family gathering.
“My parents are old so it is only right that we all gather at our family home on this special day. We also go home for Mother’s Day. We’d get a cake and treat our parents to a nice dinner. My father, who is in his 80s, does not like to experiment much. So we always take him to his favourite restaurant.”
As a father, Soo says he is not expecting much from his children, just like his dad. “All I want is a place in their heart, to be loved and remembered.”