When Kate Tran returned to her native Vietnam from Australia and launched her own skincare line, BareSoul, she had to battle red tape and overcome long-held market perceptions about Vietnamese skincare brands. Kate’s exciting range for busy, working women is proof that nothing can stop a Formula Botanica graduate from realising their dreams. We talked to Kate to find out about her inspiration, the BareSoul range and the secret of her gritty determination.
Tell us a bit about your background?
My name is Kate Tran. I’m a Vietnamese. I studied Finance in Australia and started my first job in investment. It wasn’t long though before I returned to Vietnam to work in executive search, covering the finance and legal sectors. My job gave me plenty of opportunity to interview incredible female executives whose daily stories of juggling self-care, family and career become the inspiration for BareSoul.
Give us some insights into the BareSoul business.
BareSoul is created as a minimalist skincare solution for modern women. So, prior to product development, we asked ourselves about how our planned products could assist our customers; that is, women who were leading dynamic and fast-moving lifestyles. We focused therefore on defining a refined ritual, simply packaged and lightweight-textured skincare that was calming to the senses, as well as multi-functionality and devised with synergistic ingredients and products. In a nutshell, we wanted to provide an effortless skincare regime.
The toughest decision in our branding exercise was about giving BareSoul skincare a Vietnamese identity. We were mindful of the prevailing perception in Vietnam of local brands being cheap and low quality, and of the fact that 90 per cent of the market is dominated by overseas brands; a third of which are from Korea.
However, we saw this as an opportunity to shift these perceptions and show that if the right local brands emerge, consumers would become more mature and start looking for more diversity in their choice of skincare. Authentic, educational and interactive content is the core of our communication strategy, which co-founder Diep is focusing on.
Where did you get the inspiration for your brand?
Anne, another co-founder, came up with the name. It originates from the idiom “Bare your soul” meaning to share your intimate thoughts and feelings with a trusted friend. That resonates with the mission that BareSoul strives to achieve; that is, to become a trusted friend to modern women.
Tell us about BareSoul’s skincare range.
In 2018, we launch two BareSoul lines, focusing on a basic yet specialised skincare routine. Each line will consist of a cleanser, toner, moisturiser and mask, corresponding to four skincare principles: Cleanse, Tone, Keep and Boost:
My favourite product is the purifying mask, part of our Purifying Line. Formulated with green clay, bamboo extract and BHA from willow bark extract, it gently exfoliates dead skin, cleanses deep pores and alleviates inflammation and redness.
Our original ingredient, Tamanu oil, native to Vietnam, is packed with omega acids and effectively reduces the appearance of scars and pigmentation, restoring radiance and boosting skin protection.
The mask is also enriched with mandarin orange essential oil, which gives you refreshing and uplifting feeling afterwards, because we know you may have gone through a stressful long day.
Another favourite product of mine is our hydrating mask, which is part of Hydrating Line. It can function as either a quick 15-minute treatment mask or as a sleeping mask.
Skin will instantly be relaxed in an alluring, calming sense aided by the scent of jasmine within a silky cream. Licorice root extract, Sodium hyaluronate and vitamin E strengthen the protective moisture barrier, significantly improving firmness and boosting elasticity.
Jasmine sambac oil is a proven natural remedy to improve mood, reduce stress, balance hormones and treat insomnia, so that you have a good rest at night and wake up with radiant skin.
How did your Formula Botanica course help you?
I took Advanced Diploma in Organic Skincare Science in 2015. Beauty and skincare were my passion, but I understood that to bring it to the next level and turn it into a profession, I would need education. The course was indeed a life-changing experience for me and my team, giving me a clear direction of how to start.
What inspired you to start your own skincare business?
I’m fulfilling the unfinished dream of my Mum.
Vietnam is still largely a patriarchal society and there is a great deal of scepticism about women in business, as well as plenty of glass ceilings preventing women entering the corporate world and growing businesses.
I had personal experience of these issues, particularly when it came to working with authorities. The decision to start with skincare however was easy.
What could be better than turning your passion into a business?
What was the hardest thing about launching BareSoul?
My challenge was to interpret and navigate through the ambiguity of regulations and it’s an aspect I think entrepreneurs from less mature markets commonly face. We are determined to abide by the laws from the outset but when you face overlapping, and even conflicting regulations it can be very frustrating and discouraging. I learnt that you need to reach out to experts when you need them to help you overcome these hurdles.
What advice you would give aspiring skincare entrepreneurs?
You should take care to nurture your motivation and self, as much as your business. It’s a lesson I’ve learned from both recruitment and entrepreneurship. Building a brand is a marathon, not a sprint, so make sure you keep yourself running until you reach the finish line.
Thank you so much to Kate for sharing her inspiration and experiences in creating her brand. If you’d like to follow BareSoul online, head over to:
If you would like to follow Kate’s path, take our free sample organic skincare formulation class and you’ll be on the road to starting the organic skincare business of your dreams! Find out more about the Advanced Diploma in Organic Cosmetic Science Kate chose or browse one of our many other organic skincare formulation courses.
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Gemma Ortega Perez is Formula Botanica’s Business & Relationship Manager. Gemma oversees the day-to-day running of the school, hosts our Green Beauty Conversations podcast and works with our wonderful global student and graduate community.