Business

Local skin care looks to UK

By Shamille Scott Business reporter

Wednesday, November 07, 2012    

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Racquell Brown first came up with the idea to start her line of products when she got dry skin from the weather while living in England. Now, she is looking to the UK to distribute her products made in Jamaica.

"I am currently in negotiations with some UK distributors," said Brown, managing director of Irie Rock.

Brown, Irie Rock's managing director, felt the urge to start her own business when her employer started to lay off workers.

"The whole experience got me to thinking what if I was going to be one of those persons soon," Brown said.

Irie Rock Yaad Spa was the first concept to take off from the drawing board.

"The idea was that customers could take the spa to their homes," she said. "The products would give off a spa-like experience."

The name was later changed to Irie Rock with no worry that the idea would be lost.

Papaya, mango, coconut, vanilla, coffee, and citrus where all used in the testing phase for Brown's facial care line, Tea Tree and Witch Hazel, and the body care line, Irie Rock.

Her facial line features a facial scrub, a deep pore cleanser and a refreshing toner. They can be used on normal to problem skins.

Some of the natural ingredients are sourced locally.

"I try as best as possible to support local distributors," Brown said. The cocoa butter, coconut oil, and essential oils are bought in Jamaica. While ingredients such as shea butter are exported, she said.

One must be careful when choosing scents for skin care products, Brown said. As such, she introduces at least two new scents each year making one sweet and the other, a subtler blend.

This Christmas the pineapple and watermelon scent will be introduced. To ensure that the combinations will be accepted, Brown has focus groups with men and women between the ages of 15 and 50 years. They tell her which scents are a hit and those that should be trashed.

The economic climate that saw large companies going out of business when Irie Rock was starting, forced Brown to learn how to be cost effective.

She employs just five workers and will hire people when the season gets busy, for example during Christmas.

The company is based in Spaldings, Clarendon and everything is done in house. Brown has a manufacturing lab, and labels the products there.

"I have an image of how I want my products," she said. Adding that sometimes a person may not capture what she truly wants.

Already,Trinidad and Tobago as well as the Bahamas already has a feel of Brown's body butter, scrub, wash and splash.

Locally, Brown sells to pharmacies such as Manor Park, Monarch and Fontana. Brown distributes to the Jamaica Business Development Corporation's Things Jamaican Store. She also supplies the gift shops at the Sunset Jamaica Grande, the Ritz Carlton Hotel and Tensing Pen as well as Rock House in Negril.

Her plan is to make Jamaicans know the benefits of skin care products. "Local, natural products can be used to treat acne too," she said. Brown sad she has consulted with pharmacists and has done research before making the products.

The Bureau of Standards Jamaica and Jampro are some of the local bodies that have given Irie Rock the nod of approval.

"Jampro has given me information on the opportunities that exist," Brown said.

She keeps on eye other manufacturers of natural skin care products. "Without being a copy-cat, you have to watch the competitors," Brown said.

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