Many entrepreneurs start a business out of a hobby or boiling passion for a specific thing. But the same doesn’t necessarily have to apply to others.
“Honestly, we were just a couple of individuals who were keen to start a brand with the intention to showcase that Malaysian made products are just as valuable and effective compared to some of the bigger brands in the market,” shared the team from Koolit.
Their goals were clear: break false perceptions that local products are inferior, and push themselves to grow within a competitive space. More specifically, within the sensitive skincare space.
Calming an itch
Itchy and inflamed skin is a nuisance, whether or not chronic or acute skin problems are involved.
Building their brand on grit, perseverance, and genuine passion, Koolit’s team began realising that there was a big link between Malaysians having sensitive skin due to our tropical weather.
Koolit was thus launched with a set of products meant to calm such issues, namely its Gentle Body Wash (RM45), Calming Cream (RM48), and Soothing Lotion (RM38).
Liquorice root extract is the star ingredient of Koolit’s products. The plant is said to bring healing properties to reduce itching, irritation, and redness of the skin. It is a prominent component in skincare products that focus on the sensitive skin range, according to Koolit’s team.
Glycyrrhizin is also present in Koolit’s products. It’s an anti-inflammatory ingredient, which can lessen skin redness and irritation. “As an antioxidant, it protects our skin against free radicals,” the team added. Meanwhile, galfridian helps diminish dark spots from scarring or sun damage.
The most memorable moment for the team in starting Koolit happened during the initial stages of the business. They finally had their first batch of products after six to nine months of R&D and gave out samples for a focus group test to gather customer feedback. One particular event has stuck with them to this day.
Met with a single mother on a relentless search to solve her youngest child’s acute sensitive skin condition, the founders took it upon themselves to guide the family through the process.
Through supervision and guidance, Koolit’s team shared that the mother saw gradual improvements in her daughter’s skin condition after about six weeks.
“Moreover, the emotional state of the family improved too. We could finally see their smiles and feel the anxiety dissipate,” they told Vulcan Post.
“We managed to unearth a gem. We knew that we didn’t just have a winning formulation—we had real validation.”
A crowded shelf
The impact this validation had on the team was immeasurable, especially considering the stiff competition for sensitive skincare products in stores.
The Koolit team knew that it was going to be challenging being a newcomer. And the brand was faced with yet another challenge upon launching, when their products officially hit the shelves in the same week the first MCO began in 2020.
At the time, they were put in a mentally difficult situation. Jumping into fifth gear through many sleepless nights, they described the process as nerve-wracking.
People can also be sceptical about the effectiveness of skin and body care products, especially if they already have sensitive skin.
To increase customer confidence in Koolit, the team uses a methodology of continuous refinement. Upon receiving customer queries, the team would validate their skin conditions and look into their past product usage, therapies, or treatments.
They would then detail the process to analyse what did and didn’t work. “In fact, earning someone’s trust and confidence takes more than just data. It takes heart and it was a long journey as we choose to journey with them and witness the process of recovery,” they expressed.
Based on the care shown by Koolit’s team, it certainly indicates that more than just selling a product, they are offering customers genuine service and support through their skin issues as well.
Onto the rest of SEA
Being on the shelves of Watsons has helped Koolit elevate its visibility to a larger crowd, while giving them a platform to instil credibility.
Besides, consumers can easily compare Koolit’s products against competitors of the same category as they will be placed on the same shelf.
“It pushes us to improve to better serve the nations and solve their skin problems,” Koolit’s team noted, and they’re already looking for opportunities to expand to neighbouring SEA countries.
“Specifically, in retail, we will continue to expand into new channels but with the entire shift to digital, we’re exploring other digital avenues to reach people in need of sensitive skincare solutions.” For now, they are already available in Brunei and Malaysia.