D.A.C.R and Co Limited and its CEO Debra Richards, for whom it is named, is not your average beauty products distributor. At a time when retail unpredictability might give pause to new beauty product concepts, the company created a new division to distribute healthier alternatives to consumers who were seeking natural and organic beauty and skincare products.
Prompted by the novel coronavirus pandemic, Richards observed the emerging health-conscious market of increased focus on self-care. Further research then led her to vegan brands Alaffia and Acure, which were vetted through Richards' own personal use.
“When I use a product I believe in sharing it with other people and then it's easier for me to sell because I believe in it,” she told the Jamaica Observer, adding that she believed the products would strive in the local market.
Vegan skincare and beauty products are made without materials of animal origin or their traces. Conventional materials of animal origin, such as honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, and elastin are replaced by materials derived from plants or minerals.
Alaffia is a black-owned, woman-co-founded, plant-based beauty and personal-care brand with all its ingredients sourced from Ghana, Africa.
They have a wide range of products for face, body, and hair, as well as a kids line, with raw shea butter and coconut as their main ingredients. The products are cruelty-free, without sulfates, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, petroleum, or synthetic colouring.
Acure also focuses on skin wellness with products ranging from body scrubs and lotions, facial moisturisers, serums, cleansing gels, and masks, boasted as cruelty-free and free of harmful chemicals or preservatives.
Both products serve natural, beauty-conscious consumers who care about the ingredients that go into their bodies as well as the effects they may have on the environment.
With the vegan beauty market on the rise and projected to reach US$21.4 billion by 2027, it has become less of a trend and more of a lifestyle choice.
“I know from studies that a vegan lifestyle can be one of the single best ways you can have a great impact on the environment when you choose the right products,” Richards told Sunday Finance.
“[D.A.C.R] wants to be known for being that company that cares about the planet, cares about people and what they put inside their bodies and what they use on their skin”.
Initially in 2019, Richards launched D.A.C.R to distribute cosmetics to local retailers.
She recalled a “rough” period during the beginning of the pandemic where sales were at a standstill.
“We saw an 85 per cent decrease in sales in 2020 due to COVID… there were like months when we didn't have any sales, especially the early part,” she shared.
But the company is now regaining lost ground.
“…One thing I know is that people will always use beauty products and people are now taking time to take care of their skin. I'm seeing the change now versus the early part of 2020. There's a big jump versus when I started out. For this year, we see a 10 per cent increase in sales over our first year (2019) in business,” Richards said.
“We're leveraging our expertise and our good relationship to expand our reach in the local market,” she added.
In line with its mission of becoming the largest distribution centre for vegan and non-vegan health and beauty brands in the local market, it is expecting to double sales and expand its distribution by the first half of 2022.
Acure can be found in over 15 locations across the island, including Fontana Pharmacy, Lee's Pharmacy, MK Fashion and Gift, and Town Centre Pharmacy, while Alaffia is available at Fontana Pharmacy, Sovereign Supermarket and Vivian's Beauty Supplies.
D.A.C.R is also offering a 10 per cent discount on Alaffia products and five per cent on Acure products as introductory pricing for the market.
Additionally, the company distributes other non-vegan brands Ebin New York and Crownbrush cosmetics to over 70 stores islandwide.
Presently, D.A.C.R operates as the country's sole distributor for all four brands, with its head office located at 67 Old Hope Road.
Richards has over nine years of experience in distribution and sales, and with her experience and knowledge, manages the daily operation of the business.
She told Sunday Finance that the motivation for creating D.A.C.R stemmed from her experience working in retail, as well as her mother's entrepreneurial spirit.
After moving from St Thomas to Kingston, she worked at The Beauty Spot, a beauty products distribution company, where she then had the idea to branch out on her own.
“I never liked the idea of traditional work of going in and then clocking out. I like to be free and this is a way for me to give back more,” she said emphasising her philanthropic aspirations of launching a charity foundation for underprivileged young girls in the inner city.
“I want to create a charity programme for young girls where I will give back through sale proceeds for products to do in daily care. Giving back is a big part of what I believe in and that's what I want to be known for,” Richards proclaimed.