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Author’s blurb: Having flawless skin is a goal for many. I’ve personally tried lengthy 10-step skincare routines and have even cut it down to just a simple cleanser and moisturiser when the former didn’t work. So far, I still haven’t found the right products that work for me.

Aerin Gabor was paying a visit to her Kadazan-Dusun grandparents who live in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu. There, she noticed that her elderly grandmother, aunts, and mother had clear, flawless skin. 

That made her curious as to what their skincare regimens were.

Aerin herself struggled with getting rid of adult acne and redness from trying out too many fragrant beauty products. Relatives told her that the secret lies in a Kalalit tree, native to the Southeast Asian region. 

“Old wives’ tales from Kadazan-Dusun elders believe that a few splashes of Kalalit water onto the face was the revitalising touch that helped their complexions appear flawless,” she said.

So she tried applying the Kalalit water onto her face every day. To her surprise, her multi-problem skin got better after a week. Returning to Kuala Lumpur after this trip, she shared her newfound discovery with her friends who were mesmerised by her skin. 

“That’s how I founded OLUMES, with the mission to help all those who have multiple skin issues solve them with a clean skincare formulation that works,” she shared. 

Pairing passion with education

“In today’s market, we are bombarded with thousands of products that can only tackle one skin problem at one time,” she said. “For example, moisturisers that target fine lines, but can’t work for acne and bumpy skin.”

Understanding the busy city lifestyle, Aerin wanted to create products that could address multiple skin issues at a time. This was because not many have the time to slap on a 10-step skincare routine onto their faces day and night.

(Left) Aerin, (Right) The Refining Lotion and The Satin Cream are the only 2 products from the brand currently / Image Credit: OLUMES

She took this passion to the UK, to pursue an Advanced Diploma in Organic Cosmetic Science. There, she learnt about what goes into making beauty products and its importance.

Pairing her education with the belief that solving beauty-related problems lied in nature, she decided to mix the Kalalit water into creams and lotions.

“It’s like having Borneo in a bottle!” she chimed.

Pricing a natural resource

Shop OLUMES’ skincare on VP Label at an exclusive price now:

Aerin partners with a local lab to extract the Kalalit water from sappan wood.

She further explained that OLUMES contains other ingredients like plant phytosterols, ceramides, plant stem cells, and plant extracts, to name a few. These ingredients don’t come cheap. The pricing for OLUMES ranges from RM80 to RM300 per product. 

Editor’s Note 27/08/21: The pricing mentioned above was accurate at the time of writing. Since then, OLUMES has adjusted its pricing.

This form of branding where a natural resource like Kalalit water is packaged in a bottle reminded me of Avène.

It’s a brand that markets itself through bottling up natural thermal spring water extracted in France. Avène’s products range between RM40 to RM200, a much cheaper alternative to OLUMES.

So that made me curious as to how Aerin managed to convince her customers that Kalalit water would work for them with such a price point.

Kalalit water being extracted from sappan wood / Image Credit: OLUMES

For one, she shared that she relies on word of mouth to sell the products. “I believe products that work amazingly will speak for themself, and eventually will find their owner,” she said. 

The team at OLUMES also educates its customers about the ingredients they use to build close relationships with them. This form of relationship marketing tends to be helpful when it comes to building a loyal following.

Many customers nowadays are more open to trying out smaller-scale locally made products in contrast to buying from bigger brands. It tends to be the result of local brands engaging with their customers more on their social media.

OLUMES’ word-of-mouth marketing has already spread to Singapore, in addition to shipping all over Malaysia’s shores. With this sort of growth, Aerin and her team plan to conquer the Southeast Asian market within 10 years. 

“At the same time, slowly introduce it internationally to Europe and the US. I am excited and super proud to share my rich heritage of Kadazan-Dusun to the world,” Aerin shared.

Bottom line: Malaysia is rich in raw materials and now with OLMUES utilising Kalalit water, a natural extract from Sabah, it would be inspiring to see more of such a niche product being shared with the world if the brand manages to scale globally.

  • You can learn more about OLUMES here.
  • You can read about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Aerin Gabor, founder of OLUMES

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)