Kate Somerville has been in the skincare realm for more than 20 years, starting in doctor’s offices doing pre- and post- operative care for peels and lasers. Followed by a loyal clientele, many of whom are celebrities, in 2004 she opened her own clinic and partnered with a physician, two nurses and two aestheticians to command three treatment rooms, which quickly grew to seven, then 13. By 2006, retailers were knocking on her door for access to her formulas, and in 2007 she sold a minority stake in her company to JH Partners to help fuel retail growth. By 2010, she tapped industry veteran Michelle Taylor to become CEO, allowing Kate to focus on building brand awareness as the company’s spokesperson. This past year the brand entered Asia. Here’s how it’s going.

Kate Somerville’s distribution strategy to-date has been to keep things tight, yet successful. In the U.S., the skin care brand is currently sold in Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Sephora, Bergdorf Goodman and on QVC in the U.S.

“Our goal is to grow our retail sales, focusing on increasing rank and share in the doors we’re in,” said the firm’s CEO, Michelle Taylor. “We have close relationships with each of our retail partners and generally rank within the top 15 in our current doors. At Neiman Marcus, we are the top ranking cross-sell brand in skincare. Ideally, we would like to be a top five skincare brand within our limited distribution.”

While aiming to keep a tight reign on the number of doors that sell Kate Somerville, international growth became inevitable—a direct a result of the global press the products received. So in spring 2012 the company visited Asia, specifically Korea, Singapore, Japan and mainland China. And right away, the brand launched in Korea with a freestanding boutique in Gangnam, Seoul. Next, came wholesale distribution in the city, and quite instantly, sales volume exceeded expectations.

“[Our strategy in Korea] served as a testing ground for the whole Asian region. We were able to define our positioning to see what resonated,” Michelle said.

Best sellers were items that focused solutions on real skincare problems, such as Kate Somerville’s DermalQuench Liquid Lift Advanced Wrinkle Treatment.

“It’s light, easy to use and produces both immediate and long-term results. It has a patent-pending delivery system that infuses skin with oxygen. There’s no other product like it on the market. Also successful was ExfoliKate and the KateCeuticals Collection, which features some of our most advanced technology. [These consumers] really have an appreciation for the highest quality products. Anti-aging is more the norm in that distribution channel than acne or problem skin items, so we were the first prestige, high quality brand for problem skin there.”

The Asian consumer, Kate and Michelle learned, love quick, hi-tech formulas.

“What happened is we formulated for Asia and our U.S. retailers got wind of what were creating and then they wanted it. For example, we were doing a water-based, light, fluid sunscreen with SPF 50, and we never thought the U.S. market would want it and sure enough they did. We also launched a CC Cream SPF 50 which was originally for Asia but now it’s in the entire U.S. distribution. Going forward, we are focusing on brightening in Asia and those products will also be launched in the U.S. market.”

The brand is next entering Hong Kong.

“The freestanding stores drive the sales growth in the retailers we are in in that region,” Michelle said, adding, “Innovation is a key priority. As long as you keep creating, whatever channel you are in, you will be successful.”