Arturo Valverde and his wife Rosa Brenes decided to launch their brands under the New Body at the end of last year, and the couple say that they have been encouraged by the way the products have been received in Costa Rica, giving them reason to believe that the success could translate into an international business model.
Right now the couple is focusing on a sun care line that includes a sunscreen as well as an after burn that also doubles up as a moisturizer, but they are also producing a range of six natural soaps – all made at their small farm in the tiny beach-side village of Paraiso, situated in the sun-drenched Guanacaste region of the country.
Tourism is currently the biggest industry in this region, and with a steady stream of sun-deprived tourists coming in from all over the world, the couple have found a captive audience for their locally produced, organic sun care line.
We spoke to Arturo to find out more about New Body Costa Rica, and asked him to tell Cosmetics Design about the challenges he and his wife have had in getting the sun care line to market, as well as going into more detail about the formulation and packaging
How, when and where did you start your business up?
Last September, we decided to take our sunscreen and turn it into a business. We did some market research, and found out that we didn’t really have any competition. Then we heard about the legislature passed in Hawaii banning these same harmful chemicals in sunscreen that we hated, so we decided to go for it.
What is the philosophy behind establishing the business?
As far as our business philosophy, we didn’t originally set out to make the products we have. They were made more out of necessity and everyday use. Due to severe financial troubles, we were forced to relocate and restructure our lives. We decided to focus on our children and live a healthier lifestyle. Through this journey, we became aware of our consumerism, and have since tried to change our everyday habits to become more balanced with nature and our surroundings. This is how the business came about, and our philosophy is to make natural products that people can use everyday, as well as being eco-friendly and much healthier and beneficial than the drug store option. Also, we are committed to educating everyone who will listen to the benefits and the simplicity of buying natural and organic.
What has been your approach to the formulation of this line?
Our Sunscreen is 100% natural with no chemicals. We use zinc oxide, natural oils, and bee’s wax. It has been specifically engineered to sit on the skin much lighter than a normal zinc oxide sunblock, while at the same time providing the full spectrum of UV protection. The natural oils not only help the zinc oxide bind to the skin, but also moisturize at the same time. The natural bee’s wax gives the sunscreen it’s texture and also it’s water resistance.
Our After Burn is actually an Aloe Vera Moisturizing Lotion. Since natural aloe vera will loose it’s properties rather quickly without any treatment and/or preservatives, we decided to make a lotion instead so as to give it natural longer shelf life through natural preservatives and give it a daily use as a moisturizer so that people who purchase the lotion will use it up long before it’s 6 month shelf life expires. We use 100% natural aloe vera gel, coconut oil, grape seed oil, vitamin E, and a vegetable emulsifier.
What has been your approach to the packaging?
We immediately began looking for packaging options. Unfortunately, and quite ironically, we were not able to find any local biodegradable options, especially since Costa Rica just passed legislation banning single use plastics beginning sometime in the near future. We found the PLA Plastic, which is made from corn starch, but it warps too easily in the sun and it’s not practical for sunscreen. However, we have recently come across a biodegradable plastic made from sugar cane resin and starting in July, we will be using these 100% bio-degradable plastic tubes for our sunscreen and lotions. We are committed to reducing out carbon foot print as much as possible, as soon as possible.
What have been your biggest challenges starting the company?
Our biggest challenge so far, other than funding the project, has been marketing. Getting the public to try something new, at a higher price, without a name or a brand. Luckily, we have had tremendous support from the local community, who have embraced our products with open arms and made it a local success in these last 3 months. The quality of our product is self evident once people try it.
What is your ultimate goal for the company?
We are still in a little bit of disbelief that we have no real competition in the market place. At least in the Latin American market. And in North America and Europe, there isn’t a Costa Rican product to compete with, so that is actually our main goal and ambition. I would love to place high end, high quality products on the international marketplace ASAP.
What advice do you have to other start-up brands?
As far as advice for other start ups? Just do it. My personal business during the last 14 years since I moved to Costa Rica has been developing new businesses and flipping them. Whether my own or as a consultant, I have started and flipped over 20 businesses during that time.
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