Over a decade ago, before cult beauty brands so much as made a ripple in the local beauty scene, Ken Lim was already on a mission. Armed with his passion for beauty and a sharp business foresight, he traded in his career as a financial controller to fill the gap for niche beauty brands in Malaysia, ahead of any other player in the market. Today, you can easily access hard-to-find delights such as Atelier Cologne, Annick Goutal, Caudalie, Diptyque, Laura Mercier and more across KENS Apothecary stores and a host of kiosks nationwide.
What inspired your foray into beauty?
"I was contemplating between fashion and beauty and it's interesting how I chose beauty, as fashion was my passion then. I was not very confident with the opposite fashion trends from the southern hemisphere and didn't think it would be easy to market in Malaysia."
How has the Malaysian perception of beauty evolved since?
"Social media has definitely played a big part. Information is much more accessible. Consumers are also savvier and more intelligent; they appreciate niche brands for its novelty and respect brands that invest in research and development rather than just pure advertising. When it comes to perfumes, there's a growing group of discerning consumers who gravitate towards scents of premium quality.
"KENS Apothecary has always been an institution set out to educate consumers on their options beyond conglomerate brands, which are available at just about every departmental store or duty free outlet. We have proven to be successful in our pursuits and have added many new brands along the years."
What excites you most about the industry today?
"I love how brands are pushing the envelope with their marketing campaigns. I do not favour pushy ones; I love subtle yet succinct messages."
Your secret to staying ahead is...
"Recognising that trends are always changing, it's not about keeping up; instead it's about being a step ahead at the beauty forefront to forecast what's coming but taking action now."
What's your take on the new beauty rule?
"It's all about balance. Everything in moderation. We live in a fast-paced world where everyone wants immediate results! In my opinion a product, which can dramatically speed up skin's renewal process will be the next champion."
Which game-changing products are top on your list?
1. Caudalie Premier Cru Eye Cream for its moisturising benefits and a non-sticky finish.
2. Dr Sebagh Vitamin C powder effectively evens the skin tone and prevents pigmentation.
3. Dr Brandt Needles No More is such an effective product; it literally is like Botox in a jar!
4. Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturiser for its oil-free formula that's perfect for our weather whilst still giving you that flawless finish.
5. By Terry Hyaluronic Powder because it mattifies the shine on your skin and is infused with hyaluronic acid, which fills in lines for a naturally smooth complexion.
Your best tried-and-tested beauty tips are...
"Never, ever, go out without a sunblock during the day. Have a really good cleansing routine (even if that means three steps each time, do it religiously!) and eat clean where possible because good skin is a side effect of a healthy regime."
One trick to faking a good night's sleep is...
"Constantly replenishing your skin with Caudalie Beauty Elixir - it works wonders for a quick pick-me-up for your complexion!"
What's the most interesting thing you've picked up from your recent travels?
"Frederic Malle's 'Eau de Magnolia', I love the freshness that's offset by a floral trail. I love it even more now that I've discovered it was created by Carlos Benaim (the creator of Calvin Klein's Eternity); it's the first perfume Carlos created for Frederic Malle."
Your personal beauty philosophy is...
"There are so many good beauty brands out there; find a brand that resonates with your belief. It's like religion; you can always adopt all good philosophies from the teachings. Mix and match. Explore and be enlightened, and have fun along the way!"
What should we make space for in our beauty closets or homes?
"We're very excited to launch Cire Trudon home fragrances, a line which has been around for 450 years and was favoured by the Emperor Napoleon! We see great potential in home fragrances and would like to have a few more brands to offer to the growing market."
Ken's top game-changing picks
KENS Apothecary is now at Bangsar Shopping Centre, Bangsar Village and One Utama Shopping Centre.