Skin-care niche


Her own needs led scientist Gabrielle Ly to develop skin-care products for Asian women

I am a mother, wife, scientist and businesswoman. Depending on the day, the roles may be reversed, but I am proud to have so many roles, each equally important in my life. Lately, my businesswoman side has taken over and is currently in overdrive.

My older son is in his teens, my younger is an infant. Being a new mom again is both a blessing and a curse. The “curse” was the sensitivity of my skin during my recent pregnancy.

I was sensitive to detergent, perfume, rough clothing and anything that can be irritating. I developed rashes throughout my pregnancy all over my neck and belly. After the rash had come and gone, the dark spots stayed.

Because of my 10 years of experience as a skincare formulating chemist, I realized I had hyperpigmentation (darkening of patches of skin). It was hard to hide the blemishes on my neck. No matter where I went, I found myself talking about hyperpigmentation. How being Asian I am more susceptible to it. I was amazed at how many Asian women have the same problem. Unlike me, some have never been pregnant. Everyone kept asking me why I didn’t get it on my face, and that was when it occurred to me that I didn’t apply the same products I used on my face to my body. Given my background, I always read the ingredient list and never use anything that can irritate my face. If I’d known I was going to be so sensitive during my pregnancy I would have taken the same proactive approach when using skin-care products on the rest of my body.

Kou Naturals

I saw a need for products serving the environmentally conscious Asian woman, and as a result I founded Kou Naturals, Inc., a green cosmetic company with custom-formulated, paraben-free products specifically for Asian skin.

One of the challenges is the lack of distribution channels available for this niche market. Major distributors are hesitant. There are specific distributors for African American women. Why not Far East Asian women? Why not Middle East Asian Women? All Asian women are not the same. We have different needs.

My children and my experiences are the inspiration for Kou Naturals. After all, I named the company after my firstborn. His name means “golden glow” which is what the company really is all about, the natural golden glow of Asian skin.

My life and my passion have led me down this path. I get to do what I love, which is formulating skincare products, but now with a better understanding of how I can give back to the Asian community by educating and helping to make a difference.