Khulan Davaadorj: making a Mongolian social venture with natural skincare

lhamour and founder khulan davaadorj featured image april magazine 800px
Photo source: LHAMOUR

Khulan Davaadorj: the Mongolian social entrepreneur making a positive global impact with the natural skincare brand she created with love

Mongolia is a beautiful East Asian country we rarely hear about. Apart from its rich history and nomadic culture, Mongolia is also a land filled with nature’s wonders. Yet, despite its exquisite natural resources, local businesses featuring these natural treasures aren’t as huge as the booming organic industries of countries like the US, Japan, or South Korea.

In 2014, a social entrepreneur with a clear vision of environmental preservation and women’s empowerment took a huge leap to finally find Mongolia its well-deserved space on the organic cosmetics scene.

lhamour founder khulan davaadorj export plan
Photo source: LHAMOUR Facebook

Meet Khulan Davaadorj, founder of LHAMOUR, the very first global natural skincare line to emerge out of Mongolia. While natural skincare is nothing new on the world stage, the idea and mission that Khulan infuses into her brand are beyond remarkable. I reached out to Khulan to hear more of her inspiring story and of how she chose her homeland to start LHAMOUR. She discusses her endeavors to be a zero-waste company, her mission empowering local Mongolian women by providing employment, and everything in between.

After years of living and studying in the US and Europe, why did you decide to return to Mongolia to pursue your organic beauty business there?

I had lived abroad for almost 20 years. Before returning to Mongolia, I completed my Master’s Degree at Columbia University in New York, majoring in renewable energy and sustainable development. I got a request through LinkedIn to work for Mongolia’s first wind farm company and within a few days decided to go back to Mongolia, even though my family was not there and I had barely ever lived there. I somehow felt that it was time to go home and really be part of the development and use everything that I had learned in my life so far. I did have the opportunity to stay in the United States, as I had some job offers, but instead I felt driven to Mongolia and felt like my home country was calling me.

It was quite tough at the beginning because I had come over with just one suitcase and felt like I was a stranger in my own home country. But it was also exciting and challenging, and I did feel like I was playing a part in the development of my country.

I then decided that I wanted to use my passion for solving my own skin problems. With the professional background that I had acquired and the opportunity of using the amazing unique raw materials of Mongolia, I began my journey of entrepreneurship. Thus, you see, LHAMOUR is based on love. The philosophy of loving yourself, of taking care of yourself, loving others, sharing knowledge and passion, as well as loving the environment. It has my niece’s name ‘LHAMO’ in it, because eventually what we do now will affect our next generation and thus, by being a social impact business, we want to show the future generation that we need to take care of each other and mother nature as well.

Read the full story on how she started LHAMOUR here.

What do you think is your biggest achievement so far during your journey with LHAMOUR?

When I started out in 2014, I had big dreams and big goals and I did not understand much the impact my work could create. But the moment I paid the first salary to my team member, I felt very different. I soon understood that it was not about just me anymore, but that someone’s life and their whole family’s well-being could be potentially affected by me. I felt a greater sense of responsibility, especially now that I have around 30 employees. I believe it is quite a remarkable achievement.

Many of our team members are females and I can see a change in their behavior over the last four years. The way they walk, the way they talk, and the spark in their eyes say that they feel a greater sense of self-respect. They have more confidence and I am so happy to see that. They are like family to me and I feel that we can achieve so much more together.

On the other hand, having regular customers has been a great achievement as well. There are so many skincare products in the world, but many people understood our vision and to see that our products are helping their skin conditions is absolutely amazing. We do things from the heart, by people, for people. To personally see the impact we are making on our team members, on our customers, and even on young people has been incredible. Whatever challenge I face, just seeing a little thank you note from the customer or a message from a young person that I have motivated and inspired, that keeps me going and makes our work meaningful.

We heard that you recently started an advocacy program encouraging young Mongolian girls to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Will you please tell us more about this program? What is your message to young Mongolian girls who also want to create an impact in society, just like you do?

Living in a developing country is quite tough and many locals feel that not everyone can follow their dreams because they need to make a living first. I want to change that. We only live once, so our lives should be meaningful. We had girls in the program who said that they wanted to become engineers, but their parents were not supportive because engineers do not become successful in Mongolia. However, I think the times have changed now and there is a new era of business.

For now there is a lack of female power in this sector and I want to push girls to really pursue their dreams, because this sector is immensely important and will become even more important in the global sphere. They need someone to motivate and tell them that it is fine to follow their passion. Girls who do not get support from their parents and friends need mentors and a support group who shares their beliefs.

lhamour technician at work
Photo source: LHAMOUR

I felt that it was crucial to create such a mentorship program, so that the girls could support each other in the hope of developing better confidence and faith in themselves, and that they could be anything they dream of.

How would you like the rest of the world to see LHAMOUR, and other Mongolian beauty brands (existing or upcoming) in the near future?

Mongolia’s economy is now based on mining, and our main exports are our natural resources. We want to show the world that Mongolia can produce all kinds of high-quality natural products. Mongolia is so beautiful and full of amazing fruits, plants, flowers, and other raw ingredients that are highly beneficial to human health. Nature gives us such a bounty that we can use to help people’s skin problems. I want people to feel this nature and to truly believe in its wonders.

We are just the bridge between the people and nature. We are bringing nature to people and by doing so, helping our future generation, and keeping the environment safe. I want people to have a different view of Mongolia and through LHAMOUR get a greater understanding of the beauty of our country and our traditional, nomadic lifestyle.

LHAMOUR still has a long way to go before it reaches global recognition, but the Mongolian brand is expanding and putting efforts into making their products available in more countries outside of Mongolia. They currently have female entrepreneurs who also have social missions as distributors in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, India, Canada, and the US.

In 2016, Khulan Davaadorj was awarded the accolade of “Woman of the Year” by the Prime Minister of Mongolia for the significant impact she had created within the country’s business sector. She shows that one can start small but still make it big when the ideals that inform a business are positive and socially aware. Khulan’s successful venture with LHAMOUR also inspired a wave of local startups by other aspiring entrepreneurs. Truly, Khulan’s story is not just her own, but also that of all Mongolian women dreaming of different versions of her success story.

You can follow LHAMOUR on their Facebook page or visit their website, Like every brand, they also have an Instagram, @lhamour_international, and a Twitter handle @lhamourskincare, and we won’t say no to some nice photos, will we?

Andrea Centeno

Andrea is a beauty blogger and a makeup aficionado based in Manila, Philippines. In her blog, Shimmering Thoughts, she shares her love for K-Beauty and K-Pop through product reviews, makeup tutorials, and documents the exclusive media events she's been to.

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