Pamela Medha studied business and recently set up a business in a little-known market for us Albanians. Vala is her venture in Kuwait, where she has acquired the franchise of a Korean cosmetic firm. Pamela is studying the market and is working to bring the same brands and the same business model to Albania. This is what she shares with us:
You have a business in Kuwait. Can you tell us about your experience in this unexplored country for Albanians?
Kuwait is a very hospitable and generous country. In my case, I had a very positive experience. I went to Kuwait at the age of 26, after several work experiences in Albania and Germany. In entrepreneurship, I have always been engaged in the family business. As a business graduate, I am very pleased with the entrepreneurial spirit in Kuwait. There are no taxes there, except for the 5% customs tax. Also, there are many financial aids offered by banks. There is a lot of support for the private sector and especially for women. It is not easy to find the right business partner and here you cannot open a company without a local partner. I am very happy that my Kuwaiti friend agreed to help me with this initiative and so far it has gone very well.
How are you developing your business there?
The business I develop is a very popular trend in the market, as well as in other Middle Eastern countries. Also, all over the world, Korean cosmetics are leaving behind many other countries, such as Japan, France, etc. Regarding the vision and mission of our company, we focus on healthy consumers, certified firms, and ecological packaging. We are a distributor and seller of SUNTIQUE, a brand that focuses on sun protection. This brand is already in SEPHORA in KOREA. Also, in Kuwait in most online and offline stores such as BOUTIQAAT, TALABAT, TROLLEY, TATAYAB, etc. We plan to acquire the franchise of some other Korean firms for the State of Kuwait.
How do you plan on developing this initiative in the Albanian market?
We are thinking of opening a subsidiary in Albania, however, we have not yet finalized the business structure. In any case, it will be the same formula as in Kuwait. So, VALA is the company, which has its store at www.vala.shop, while being a distributor of various brands. When we say distributor, it means that we have agreements with Korean firms for exclusivity in Kuwait and we will do the same in Albania. Everything is online at our store while being distributed in selling points: such as pharmacies, hypermarkets, and cosmetic stores.
You founded the enterprise during Covid, what does this enterprise promise?
The idea was born in 2020, when there was a lockdown in Kuwait. We were a group of friends in a private house and could not move except in the backyard. It was December and I started a message to my Korean contact whom I met on a business trip to Egypt. He put me in touch with the lady who deals with cosmetics at the organization KEDA (Korea Egypt Development Agency – NGO) run by my contact. Since during COVID I was shopping online at BOUTIQAAT, who is my current customer, I thought that there is a lack of quality Korean sun protection products in Kuwait. I managed to choose 2 brands and made exclusivity agreements with them. Then I certified those products at the Ministry of Health and we started distributing them in 2022 to the Kuwaiti market. We have been successful so far and wish to expand.
The pandemic boosted a lot of e-commerce. Was it the same for you?
The pandemic was the main reason for me, as I had a lot of free time to think and make the VALA business plan. Also, I shopped a lot online, as the only way to buy food or cosmetics during that period. Despite everything, I am a very "entrepreneurial" person. Even before I tried to open a business, but after 5 months, COVID happened and I couldn't. I was always looking for the best business idea and plan. Due to many reasons, the ideal time for me was the COVID and Post-Covid.
Korean cosmetics are almost a trend. What are you planning to bring to the Albanian market and maybe also the Balkans?
Now the trend leans toward Green Korean Beauty, which is focused on natural ingredients and face treatments over makeup. Sunscreen is very important in our daily routine and should be used, just like brushing your teeth. If you don't have face cream, you should definitely at least use sunscreen. The creams we offer are for daily use and hold many nutrients and vitamins. So they're not just seasonal, on the contrary, they're for everyday use before leaving the house. If you are not going to clinics for fillers or interventions, then you should take care of your skin. If you want to be healthy and happy with yourself, you need to take care of yourself. VALA is not against aging, but pro improving appearance and health (because the sun is quite toxic if you don't take measures). Another trend is VEGAN beauty, where we have many vegan (cruelty-free) products. Certifications and the latest trends in skin care are very important to us, as is the focus on sun care as a basis for skin maintenance.