Today’s guest blog is by Khulan Davaadorj. Khulan is on a very exciting journey as Mongolia’s first Organic Skincare Entrepreneur. She is busy running her business – Lhamour Skincare and has agreed to come and regularly update us to share her experiences with us. If you missed Khulan’s first blog, read part 1 and part 2 here.
The last part ended with how I was back alone in the office and re-organized my thoughts. So much has happened since then. My mother joined my company as the General Manager and we really worked so hard day and night in January that we were able to get things done that we didn’t manage with the previous team in 3 months.
For a while we were only the two of us and then slowly but surely started hiring people. This time, I stopped hiring people based on their background and diploma but rather more on personal talks and whether they really understand the vision of the company and whether this is the work they are looking for and would appreciate every single day. And that is how my team finally got together.
We have now 6 women in the company together with my mom and myself. We got all certificates and even got the certificate by the Mongolian Chamber of Commerce acknowledging our commitment to 100% waste during the production process and the fact that we produced Mongolia’s first bath bomb and lip balms. We were also on most national newspapers and TV channels and the biggest honor was when we were on Bloomberg, showing our factory.
Our First Product
We tried to really create something that is unique and fresh and creative not only to Mongolia but also internationally. So, we created the bath bomb as our first product because it was new to Mongolia. And we tried to create it in a new way. We also wanted to include special Mongolian raw materials, so we used for one type a special Mongolian stone salt that only exists in Mongolia. For another one, we are using sea buckthorn oil, which will give the skin an amazing feeling after the bath.
Also, in terms of structure, I wanted to be different. Bath bombs are all round. And that is nice. But then, why not break the habit and make them look like muffins? So, we made them like muffins and packaged them as single and collection boxes.
The bath bomb was an instant boom because so many people did not understand what it is and many people were wondering whether it is a soap, or a scrub or what they should do with it. We got many questions all the time and it was amazing to see how interested everyone was.
We worked together with a young Mongolian talented artist and wanted to give each product a unique touch. So, we are now drawing the main raw material we use on each product packaging, so that every single person from any country can understand what the product is about and what you can expect.
I had purposely written the front side in English and everything else in the back in Mongolian. I wanted the product not be something that is only made for Mongolians but I wanted it to already have a feeling of global exposure and I wanted Mongolians to believe that it is already an international product. I also wanted that every tourist or foreigner would also understand the product and buy it.
Mongolia’s First Lip Balm
The hype extended as we created Mongolia’s first lip balm using Mongolian ingredients such as sea buckthorn and Mongolian beeswax. Mongolia is a very dry country and our lips get the most damage due to this dryness. Lip balms with synthetic chemicals seem to moisturize the lips for a bit but suck out the moisture afterwards, so that you need to put the lip balm again after a few minutes.
The fact that ours was all natural and made in Mongolia made it a really unique product. Again, for the packaging I wanted to create something unique and thus have decided to put the lip balm in the flat paper packaging so that it looks like a perfume tester but in fact is a lip balm.
Sheep’s Fat Tail Oil
Our third product was the natural soap. I had played around with different soaps and as the difficulty with real natural soaps is, you have to let it cure for 3 months in order for the soaps to be ready to use after the sodium hydroxide has fully evaporated, leaving only oils and glycerin behind.
Well, I did try a lot and finalized the soap using a very special and unique ingredient. That was sheep’s tail fat oil. For foreigners, this may seem to be very odd and sound bizarre. But for Mongolia, it has been used since ages in traditional ways. It is delicious when taken with meals and many people use it directly on their skin as it soothes inflammation and is very soft for especially children’s skin and for the elderly.
Since our sheep eat nutritious grass and are not fed any chemicals or harsh ingredients and also due to Mongolia’s extreme climate conditions, the fat is stored in the sheep’s tail. So, mixing this with other vegetable oils and making soap was really something special and the soap turned out to be amazingly moisturizing and nourishing.
We were glad that an allergy treatment hospital started using our soaps for their patients with conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and others. That gave us the full belief that it will be beneficial to everyone. The soap is wrapped in recycled paper because I wanted to be extra environmentally conscious.
Mongolian Stone Salt Scrubs
Our latest product was very special as it is our natural body scrub. We have 2 so far. One being with Mongolian special stone salt and Mongolian sea buckthorn oil and the other being with Mongolian special stone salt and freshly roasted Columbian coffee grounds.
Mongolia is having our first coffee roasting factory and we are working in partnership with them to deliver the highest quality scrub to our loved users. It always makes me happy to read the positive comments and messages we receive about how our customers value our brand and our products and also value that we try and make something new in Mongolia such as using recycled paper in our products as well as even for the management – our name cards and gift box fillings are recycled paper.
Creating a Lasting Legacy
We, in developing countries especially, need to focus on the long term perspective of our endeavors. Starting a company and making money is one thing. But starting a movement and leaving something behind that helps people and is cautious about the environment even many many years later is something that is of great value to me.
I am not important because Khulan Davaadorj will only exist for a certain time. But my dream was to really start something that will lead people not just in their behavior and their daily lives but also on their view and perspective of how they see things.
It was a struggle to start a natural skincare brand in a developing country because people were not well acquainted with what natural or organic skincare is and many have not too high income, so the question was being raised why there is soap for 1 dollar and what the difference was.
To answer these questions, our company has a regular journal on educational articles such as:
- What is natural skincare?
- What do you need to keep in mind when buying any beauty product
- What is real soap versus commercial soap
- How to map your skin
We really try and educate people instead of making them buy the product. We believe that if we concentrate on the quality of the product and let people know of the benefits, the product will market itself, without having to pay for any advertisement. As a start-up, I believe that this is the way to make it sustainable for the long run. Maybe it will be a bit slower but I hope it will be the successful start to create a real brand
In August we attended our first international exhibition in Hong Kong, which is Asia’s largest exhibition regarding Organic Products, including everything from food to beauty to health. I never imagined we will be already taking part at such an event as Mongolia’s only company, but I am definitely excited to see how the outside world will welcome Lhamour.
It’s so exciting to read about Khulan Davaadorj’s journey in starting Lhamour Skincare. In a year she has come such an incredibly long way and her story is inspirational. If you’re not following Lhamour Skincare yet, head on over to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
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Lorraine Dallmeier is a Biologist, Chartered Environmentalist and the CEO of Formula Botanica, the award-winning online organic cosmetic science school. Read more about Lorraine and the Formula Botanica Team.