L’Oreal, Lancome, and — Ba Yan Ka La? That’s the name of the new Chinese cosmetics company to hit the scene in decades and its founder, Jean Zimmerman, expects it to usurp the traditionally foreign-driven market.
After the Communist takeover in 1949, many grooming habits became frowned upon, and Chinese cosmetics companies became extinct. Those that remained either carried stigmas of bad quality or were owned by foreign companies (Yue-Sai and Mininurse, for instance, are part of L’Oréal Group).
Now the French Zimmerman, a former retail executive who has lived in China for 17 years, claims his brand is the first Chinese “luxury skin care brand” with recipes from traditional Chinese herbal medicine.
After being barred from proposing and introducing local designers at a Hong Kong-based company, Zimmerman broke away and founded Ba Yan Ka La (BYKL). The company is named for the Mongolian mountain range that cradles the source of the Yellow River, known as the wellspring of Chinese civilization.
BYKL offers a complete line of skin care products from facial masks (a best seller) to hair products to scented candles. Zimmermann has lofty goals for BYKL: “At a time when many still wonder which foreign concepts they could bring to China, we’ve started selling the best-kept and most-exclusive Chinese beauty rituals and formulas.” While BYKL is not yet available in department stores, it has become a major presence in hotel amenities, where Zimmerman supplies high-end boutique hotels across China. But the founder has high hopes for his creation, and sees it as the gateway through which China can emerge into the realms of international fashion and creativity.
“Niche brands like Ba Yan Ka La should act as ambassadors of good taste and inspiration for the industry at home, while creating awareness overseas in key foreign markets as to the fact that Chinese creativity is not asleep and working its way into global markets,” says Zimmerman.
photo credit: bykl