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On the World Stage: California-based Beauty Brands Step Up

Posted: December 20, 2012, from the January 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

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For 2013, CITD–Long Beach is expanding its California: A State of Beauty Pavilion at Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna, taking place March 8–11, 2013, and the Beautyworld Show Dubai, happening May 28–30, 2013. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” comments Lincoln Lee, director of professional skin care brand Dermaesthetics, Beverly Hills Formula, Inc., which was a participant in the program in 2012 and came back again for 2013. “We received financial, media and organizational assistance. The ability to collaborate and represent California-made goods was immeasurable.”

That representation and the ability to be seen by international buyers is a good opportunity for many beauty brands. There is a distinct desire in Europe for U.S. beauty products in particular, illustrated by the fact that most of the companies that come to CITD–Long Beach have received past inquiries from European markets such as the U.K., Italy, the Netherlands and more. Growth opportunities also largely exist in the Middle East: From the 27 distinct countries entered by the 11 participants from the 2012 pavilion, the majority were Middle Eastern markets, which led to the choice of Beautyworld Dubai as the second trade show outlet for the organization to get involved in for 2013.

California Success Story: A Case Study

Diamond Wipes International, a California-based wet wipes manufacturing company that is woman- and minority-owned, overcame hardships as an entrepreneurial endeavor early on, and then struggled with how to take on international expansion once the company become more prosperous stateside. Founder Eve Yen started by supplying her wet wipes door to door to local Chinese restaurants, and later grew her base to several restaurants allowing her to open a manufacturing facility in El Monte, California. After three years, Yen decided to expand her product line into beauty and personal care products and created the brand La Fresh, which centers on offering on-the-go, eco-friendly beauty wipes.

While eventually achieving success in the domestic marketplace, Diamond Wipes/La Fresh’s interest in foreign sales increased as it continued to receive inquiries from abroad. However, like many companies, Yen and her team were leery of how to proceed with foreign transactions. A classic “accidental exporter,” as Diamond Wipes began to receive overseas inquiries for its contract manufacturing services it turned to its team to service international sales, but also looked to the staff at CITD–Long Beach to assist in facilitating its growth in international markets. When CITD introduced the STEP program to the company, Diamond Wipes’ marketing manager Moto Okawa jumped at the chance to learn where more international opportunities existed. “We wanted to go international in a much bigger way, and that is why we participated in the trade mission to Cosmoprof Bologna with the California Pavilion,” explains Okawa.

Thus, Diamond Wipes participated in the first CITD trade mission to gauge international interest in its products, services and company. With results that exceeded their expectations (exports now count as 12% of the company’s overall sales) in 2012, Diamond Wipes/La Fresh is participating again in 2013. And this time, the company feels more prepared to establish networking and new contract packaging opportunities. “The knowledge gained and sales success we had are key drivers of why we will participate again in 2013. We are also very proud to exhibit, representing the made-in-the-USA quality of our products and are excited to test new possibilities for growth,” Okawa explains. “Despite all of the aspects of international commerce, small businesses can still operate globally, especially with the help of organizations like CITD, which help to distinguish what different countries require in order to actually complete an international transaction.”