Kuby Beauty offers a range of vegan and cruelty-free matte liquid lipstick products.
The brand was founded in May 2019 by 160 Works, a local creative agency that saw an opportunity in the liquid lipstick product category.
Dinie Rahman, head of marketing at 160 Works,told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that while there were many cosmetic brands with liquid lipsticks, they were not developed specially for the South East Asian climate.
The firm spent two years developing its liquid lipsticks to ensure the formula suited the humid weather with ingredients such as primrose oil to ensure it was comfortable to wear.
Additionally, its goal was to create a range of colours that were universally flattering on a variety of skin tones, an important factor for the ethnically diverse Singapore market.
The brand continued to do well for the rest of the year after its launch and thanks in part to its selective influencer marketing campaigns.
While the company does harbour international ambitions and hopes to expand to other countries in the region one day, it hopes to strengthen the business in its home market first.
“We’re taking it slow to focus on Singapore. Not only because we are a small business, but because there is a lot to be done in this market.”
He added that compared to neighbouring markets, Singapore is considered a less mature market for colour cosmetics.
“Other countries are leading in terms of [colour] cosmetics, people in Singapore are still in that experimental stage when it comes to make-up.”
Its lucrative launch last year cemented the company’s belief that there was an appetite in the market for lip products.
As such, the company prefers to focus on expanding in terms of products for now.
“I think we've mastered the formulation, so we want to build on that and come up with more colours. People are asking for more neutral shades and brown shades because it can be used as blusher and eye shadow too,” said Dinie.
Most recently, the company developed a range of lip glosses to fulfil the trend that was picking up in the market with big brands like Fenty Beauty launching the successful Gloss Bomb series.
The COVID curveball
Since the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit, the business has slowed down due to the shrinking demand for lip products given the months-long lockdown and the mandatory need to wear masks in public.
The health crisis has also affected the company’s supply chain and delayed the launch of Kuby Beauty’s new range of lip glosses, which were manufactured in South Korea.
“One month before COVID-19 hit, we were going to launch our lip glosses but when they arrived, we realised the packaging was faulty, resulting in minor leakage problems. We wanted to refine the packaging even further, but South Korea was also affected by the outbreak. So, until now we have not gotten our shipment yet,” Dinie recounted.
The lost shipment also posed another uncomfortable problem for the brand, which sees itself as an advocate for sustainability.
“One of our brand missions is to focus on sustainability. For example, we didn't want to make custom packaging moulds and generate more waste, so we used an existing packaging that was readily available. Instead, we just spent our efforts on the formula, making sure it was effective and long-lasting because if it doesn’t stay on your lips, you’ll just end up using and buying more lipsticks.”
To avoid trashing the lip glosses, the brand ran a campaign to give out free lip glosses with any purchase of the liquid lipsticks.
“As long as they didn’t mind the minor leakage problems in our packaging, of course,” added Dinie.
The company is not sure when it will be able to launch its lip glosses as it is working on refining the packaging before restarting the production process.
With no end to the crisis in sight and little opportunities for pop-up stores, Kuby Beauty is looking to focus efforts on digital marketing for the time being.
“The thing with matte liquid lipsticks is that you have to try it for yourself, which is why it's important for us to have a physical store. Usually, our peak periods are when we take part in pop-ups like Boutique Fairs and Ramadan fairs… We’re waiting to see if these will be allowed, if not we have to be more aggressive on online marketing.”
On the bright side, the company has been receiving feedback from its customers that they have been able to use Kuby's long-lasting liquid lipsticks under masks without issues of smudging, an opportunity the firm hopes to capitalise on.