Did you know that the Philippines is the world provider of Coconut Oil, and yet is under-recognized? Sara Ku is a beauty entrepreneur and founder of Kaya Essentials, an impact driven lifestyle and beauty brand. In her early 20s, she worked for a non-profit in the Philippines, Gawad Kalinga, where she was introduced to social business. When she learned that 60% of coconut farmers in the Philippines lived below the poverty line, she was shocked knowing that the Philippines was the number one exporter of coconut oil.

She uses organic and simple ingredients like coconut oil to create simple and non toxic beauty products with a socially driven mission that employs female artisans and provides school meals to children in need in the Philippines. 

Sara is currently cultivating allyship to uplift the Filipino and AAPI community during the rise of AAPI hate by highlighting AAPI products and businesses in Kaya’s recently launched
“Discovery Box” which features products from food, wellness, and beauty. 

In this episode we’ll cover…

  • A new perspective on the Filipino identity through Sara Ku’s international upbringing  
  • The social entrepreneurship behind Sara Ku’s independently owned Filipina beauty brand, Kaya Essentials, and her mission to uplift the Filipino community and AAPI small business owners
  • How Sara has found her own healing from her trauma as a sexual abuse survivor and her advice to help others overcome the pain she once felt.
  • How to be a resilient Filipina in all aspects of life from entrepreneurship, relationships, and one’s self.
  • Sara’s current mission to cultivate support from allies in the midst of AAPI hate and to bring more representation of the AAPI businesses

The importance of this episode discusses the genesis of Sara Ku’s independently owned Filipina beauty brand, Kaya Essentials, and how her mission of social entrepinayship supports the Philippines’ local economy through fair trade. Through this mission of social impact, Sara built a beauty brand to celebrate her cultural heritage but to also recognize the homeland’s number one export, coconut oil. Her community-based mission started when she was an intern for a grassroots organization called Gawad Kalinga and now inspires her business to provide school meals for children in need in both America and the Philippines. Sara’s inspiring work shows the significance of trailblazing AAPI women in business.

Sara is a proud Filipina with an international upbringing having lived in Hong Kong, India, and England throughout her life. Her Filipina pride shows that our identity is not limited to the experiences in America but that it is a universal identification. To Sara, her Filipino identity was not limited to the places she lived in but rather how being Filipina made her feel at home. 

Sara also bravely opens up about her trauma with sexual abuse and offers her support and advice to listeners who are trying to find healing, especially where they may feel a lack of support from family members. She hopes to inspire resilience and community for Filipinas around the world to find their voices and to take their strength back to overcome their challenges.


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