Kuoca is a South Korean beauty start-up founded by Benjamin Yu and Jisu Kim. The firm debuted in 2014 as a made-to-order skin care brand catering to Korean ‘celebrities and VIPs’ before launching to a wider audience in 2019.
Inspired by concepts of fine cuisine, Kuoca emphasises the freshness of its formulations. The products are made-to-order in small-batch productions and contain ingredients like truffles and chaga mushrooms.
All products are made within 30 days of sale to maintain freshness and perform best within 18 months after opening, said the firm.
The company believes that the freshness of the formulations is key to the effectiveness of its products.
“The majority of potent and active ingredients in beauty products deteriorate over time. Clinical trials have been conducted on our own products, where ingredients with brightening and wrinkle-improvement effects decrease over a course of time, by more than 15% in some cases,” explained Yu.
“With shorter period of usage, more room for potent ingredients are secured by reducing the volume of preservatives that may take up to 75% of a formula. A combination of naturally derived preservatives, like vitamin D, is used minimally.”
Fresh is the new clean?
The company believes that the demand for freshly made beauty products will eclipse the clean beauty movement in the coming years.
Yu describes the draw of fresh beauty as similar to choosing freshly squeezed orange juice over a store-bought version.
“The reason clean beauty became a global trend is because choosing clean over conventional is an easy decision to make. Same applies to freshness, as the preference is an intuitive one that doesn’t require further explanation or persuasion. With saturation in clean beauty market, freshness can lead the next trend as we naturally gravitate towards healthier lives,” said Yu.
As a pioneer in the fresh beauty movement, Kuoca is aiming to become one of the game changers in the beauty industry.
“Being the first mover in the fresh beauty category is our biggest opportunity. As Drunk Elephant became a giant in beauty by defining and pioneering clean beauty, Kuoca aims to be the first brand when consumers think of freshness in beauty,” said Yu.
In July, Kuoca was among the five start-ups selected to join Beiersdorf’s beauty acceleration program, Nivea Accelerator (NX).
“Participating in NX program and collaborating with Beiersdorf is a great opportunity for us going forward, especially in setting our first global footprints. We seek to enter one or two key overseas markets in the coming months and fully utilise the resources provided by the program and the company,” said Yu.
Since its inception, the company has been working to overcome the production challenges associated with this novel concept.
Now, with the right partners, the company is focusing on building its overseas business to make its vision of becoming a beauty leader a reality.
Kuoca currently ships internationally but the company is aiming to set up its own manufacturing facility in key overseas markets such as North America, Japan and Europe.
Yu noted that different markets would also give the company the opportunity to experiment with new ingredients.
“The facilities will replicate the core principles of Kuoca and at the same time differentiate by incorporate locally sourced natural ingredients, as local cuisine would. Imagine a Japanese version of Kuoca with the top-quality matsutake mushroom as its key ingredient.”