Kulia Strives To Disrupt The Clean Beauty Market

The Kulia story starts with its name. Kulia in Hawaiian means ‘to strive,’ and founder Jasmine Keeney is striving to create a new standard in organic skincare. She sources her oils worldwide and uses the highest quality and most ethical and sustainable version of each ingredient. All formulas are certified organic and/or wild-grown and held to the industry’s highest standards.

To bring Kulia to life, Keeney paired up with a well-known San Francisco strategic design agency, Designsake Studio. Owner Danielle McWaters has worked within the beauty and skincare industry for over ten years specializing in packaging and strategic thinking to drive brand relationships through various consumer touchpoints.

Says McWaters, “When my team and I first met with Jasmine almost a year and a half ago, she brought us this idea and asked, “Can you help bring Kulia to life?” From experience, I know how challenging it is to stand apart in the VERY crowded, clean beauty space. After hearing Jasmine’s research process and learning about her commitment to selecting only 100% organic and or wild-grown ingredients like Kalarahi melon seed oil from South Africa or Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood from a forest education organization in Hawaii. I was hooked. Her ultimate goal is to educate consumers on the spectrum of ‘clean’ skincare and take better care of the women at the heart of the industry.”

With help from the industry’s best formulator, Designsake and Keeney developed Kulia’s products, sourced components, designed product packaging, created content, and solidified its business model, product positioning, and launch strategy. Using recycled glass, Neenah’s FSC certified paper stocks, and soy-based inks, Designsake ensured each layer of Kulia’s packaging speaks to the brand’s sustainability values. 


For Kulia, Designsake created a look and feel that was both reflective of the company’s ethos and demanded consumers’ eyes on the shelf

When we began the brand identity and packaging development process, my team and I wanted to create a look and feel that reflects the company’s ethos and demanded consumers’ attention on the shelf. We ditched neutral color schemes and foil finishes that saturated the clean beauty space and swapped them for custom illustrations of florals that paint the Hawaiian Islands. Intricate blind embossing details wallpaper the exterior packaging, revealing a five-color silkscreened bottle decorated with lush leaves and birds of paradise. We want to take consumers to a destination every time they interact with Kulia products, one that feels natural, organic, and wild grown,” remarks McWaters.


Designsake ditched neutral color schemes and foil finishes that saturate the clean beauty space, swapping them for custom floral illustrations that paint the Hawaiian islands

The Science of Security Matters

With the Kulia launch imminent, COVID19 entered the picture. When the nationwide shelter in place orders went into effect, brands saw an instant shift in consumers’ attitudes and behaviors. People stockpiled disinfectant wipes, Instagram feeds were flooded with hand sanitizer ads, and grocery stores regressed to single-use plastic. All these behavioral shifts centered around one central theme: the risk of high touch surfaces.

Says McWaters, “We’ve known the risk of disease transmission from surfaces is real, but it took a global pandemic for companies and consumers to realize the actual vulnerabilities of high touch surfaces, explicitly packaging. Simultaneously, COVID19 has ushered in a rapid acceleration of e-commerce growth and brought entire industries like CPG companies online. With consumers’ inability to leave their homes or get access to their most essential and coveted brands, this shift towards purchasing products online is here to stay.

As a studio, we kept asking ourselves, how are brands cultivating this new, invaluable relationship with customers and meeting their demands for safer delivery of products? And what precisely does this mean for packaging as a communication tool for companies? It was at this point, we found Matter.


Intricate blind emboss details and an invisible antimicrobial coating cover the exterior of Kulia’s packaging

Matter is an antimicrobial, aqueous coating that protects product packaging against 99.9% of microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Traditionally used in the healthcare sector, it is incorporated into masks, gowns, and hospital wrist bands. It virtually eliminates microbes’ opportunity to exist on a protected surface long enough to accumulate in a high concentration that they become communicable.

Says McWaters, “We firmly believe that consumers interacting with packaging should still take all necessary precautions as laid out by the CDC. What Matter provides is a crucial extra layer of packaging protection that helps inhibit bacterial survival, providing much-needed reassurance during these trying times and into the unforeseeable future.”

Worry-free Beauty Is Here to Stay

Discovering that they could use Matter as a topical coating for packaging, Designsake reached out to Neenah for samples and testing. After confirming the invisible coating wouldn’t affect or change the finish, they selected an uncoated, sustainable substrate, Neenah® Folding Board in PC White Eggshell, for Kulia’s product packaging.

Concludes McWaters, “There is no compromise on the aesthetic or functionality when using Matter. You don’t lose any design details or brand equity with the coating process. Kulia loved the idea. It fits well within their goals to disrupt the clean beauty space via transparency, sustainability, and responsibility to consumer safety.

Our work with Kulia should start a bigger conversation around better packaging for brands in a post-pandemic world. Companies have a responsibility to take care of their consumers, and they must address their fears. Kudos to Kulia for being at the forefront of this movement. We’ve proven you don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics for safety or recyclability. We hope this platform can bring joy back to unboxing and create the next evolution of the customer experience.”


Efficacious formulas, colorful, eye-catching design, and purpose-driven mission all combine to make for a new clean beauty experience in Kulia.

Says Kulia Founder Jasmine Keeney, “When deciding to incorporate Matter into our packaging, we asked ourselves if it supported the transparency and sustainability we strive for. The answer was yes, and yes. We are creating a brand that cares about the well-being of our customers and providing transparency for them. Partnering with Matter very much aligns with this and was a no-brainer for us.”

Efficacious formulas, colorful, eye-catching design, and purpose-driven mission all combine to prove the new clean beauty standard is here. Kulia is scheduled to launch in November 2020, and consumers can check out the brand and their products directly at www.kuliaskincare.com.