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Cosmetic manufacturers yearn to take on bigger markets

Published:Thursday | September 7, 2017 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder
Ettenio Managing Director Antoinette Palmer-Davis
Your True Shade CEO Dianne Plummer
Your True Shade product line

Manufacturers of organic cosmetics are struggling for recognition by financiers, while demand for their niche products abroad goes untapped because their production capacity falls short.

But two of them, Ettenio and Your Shade Cosmetics, say they are making inroads, little by little.

Dianne Plummer, CEO of Your True Shade (YTS), a producer of make-up and skincare products for all skin types since 2014, said she launched a new line True Tress by YTS, in Atlanta at the top of this month. The hair-care product for weaves and wigs is made from natural ingredients such as bamboo and aloe vera, as well as charcoal.

Antoinette Palmer-Davis of Ettenio says that she is targeting countries in the Caribbean, Europe and North America in general to grow export sales for her brand.

Simultaneously, she has been exploring line expansion into cosmetics for men, a teenage acne line, and a range for kids.

Essentially, her strategy is "expanding the hair and skincare line to fill any gaps that may exist out there," Palmer-Davis told Gleaner Business. But she also needs capital for expansion to go after new business.

"We would need a sizeable sum to build and equip our factory space. With this increase in space, we would be able to increase our market penetration to high-volume customers overseas, who are looking for container loads. As it is, we are limited to supplying orders by the pallet," Palmer-Davis said.

Ettenio has operated since 2012. It produces all-natural products for the hair, skin and body using only plant-based ingredients.

"The idea for Ettenio's eco-luxury line was conceived because there was a growing need among consumers for high-performance, 100 per cent natural personal care and beauty products," said the company founder.

"In fact, I myself was searching for top-ranking, high-quality products that delivered results, as I was on a quest to grow my own hair. I found out that those products could only be found overseas, and getting them here posed tremendous challenges; and so I went to work exploring the possibilities of making my own line of products," she said.

Plummer tells a similar story for Your True Shade, which she started to resolve a personal need.

"Necessity is the mother of invention and I got inspired to start YTS while I was a graduate engineering student in northern Europe, where I had difficulty finding products for my sensitive skin," she said.

"As a result I decided to use my background in chemical engineering to create my own products. As an engineer I want to solve problems - it's my nature, and my focus is in the cosmetics industry. I think that manufacturing is one of the ways in which the Jamaican economy can be improved, and the personal care business offers me that opportunity," Plummer said.

After three years of operation, during which she pumped her own funds into the company, she said YTS is now profitable. But it needs fresh capital to improve its packaging and grow the brand and the business.

Still, Plummer is upbeat about the prospects, given the market's evolution in Jamaica and overseas.

"The personal care industry is a very dynamic sector and there are so many areas to tap into. Expanding our product reach beyond Jamaica will be a tremendous opportunity to grow," she said.

Ettenio CEO Palmer-Davis also said her business is now showing a profit, having "invested a substantial sum" over time, but is not seeking fresh capital at the moment. She is now focused on improvements to packaging, amid managing her cash flows and balancing work and family to avoid burn-out while "staying relevant in the market".