‘Asian wisdom’: Foot care startup Clapoti wants to bring Korean sauna culture to mass beauty
Founded in 2021, the US-headquartered startup Clapoti had developed a small range of foot care formulas packed in individual recyclable pouches, including single-use disposable socks. Available for pre-order via the brand’s D2C website, the offering included an exfoliant foot mask, cream foot mask, and gel foot cleanser, all made using an array of traditional Korean plant extracts sourced from certified organic farms, such as perilla leaves, green tea and ginger.
Korea-born CEO and founder of Clapoti Marie Perruchet said the goal was to bring the authentic sauna experience into beauty consumers’ homes.
“Koreans, they go to the sauna, they soak, they scrub, and they relax. And we’d love for people to get access to that, but from home,” Perruchet told CosmeticsDesign-Europe at Cosmoprof Bologna Worldwide back in April.
The overall experience of self-care, relaxation and grounding experienced in Korean saunas over several hours, with the wider goal of feeling more comfortable in your own skin, was what the brand wanted to tap into, she said.
You have the ‘full map of your body under your feet’
It was also about spotlighting the important practice of foot care from a health and wellbeing point of view, more specifically, Perruchet said.
“Foot care is so important because it helps with the blood circulation, it gets rid of toxins, and this is the full map of your body, under your feet. So, at the end of the day, if you don’t take care of your feet, like the rest of your body – they are ageing.”
“…We’re very excited to bring the Asian wisdom to consumers worldwide,” she said. “In a lot of countries in Asia, people remove their shows; people know how to take care of their feet. And we think in the Western markets people either don’t have time to go and get pedicures, they’re embarrassed to show their feet, or simply they don’t know where to start or how to take care of their feet.”
And drawing attention to foot care via the sauna culture, she said, made sense because this area of wellbeing was very well known and widely appreciated. “Many countries in the world have a sauna culture, it’s not only Korea,” she said. Russia, Sweden and many Middle Eastern countries all had long-standing bathing cultures and bath houses were a cornerstone in history for many European countries.
Because of this, Clapoti’s foot care products held “universal appeal”, Perruchet said.
“This is something that everyone can relate to and we hope more people can get access to the right effective formulas to get softer skin and feel more relaxed at the end of the day.”
Overturning an ‘old fashioned’ category
Importantly, she said Clapoti wanted to offer a fresh alternative to a very dated foot care category, albeit sizeable, growing and therefore “very promising”.
According to Allied Market Research, the global foot care market would hit €4.57bn ($4.59bn) by 2027 – growing at a CAGR of 7.1% between 2021-2027.
“Today, the market, if you look at where to buy foot care products, it’s usually very old-fashioned products, very cheap but very unhealthy,” she said. “…It’s very difficult for people to find modern, attractive products that gives them inspiration to start caring for their feet.”
And most foot care products on the market, she said, were formulated with high levels of alcohol – an ingredient Clapoti had avoided. The brand was instead focused on using as many natural ingredients as possible that linked back to the story of Korea.
“I wanted to have ingredients that remind us of the Korean experience. So, green tea, ginger, the perilla leaf which is from the mint family. These are very strong and used in traditional cooking but also have medicinal benefits.”
“…We’re looking to target people who really want to have access to effective and also natural and clean beauty,” she said.
Over the next three to five years, Perruchet said the goal was to secure present in major retailers across Europe and the US.