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Merlot Skin Care’s Business Boom

Wayne Beckley, founder and president of Merlot Skin Care

By: Leslie Benson
Posted: August 5, 2008, from the August 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.
In GCI magazine’s August 2008 feature on wine-inspired personal care products, the skin care category stands out as its most common market segment. Wayne Beckley, founder and president of Merlot Skin Care (www.merlotskincare.com), recognized an opportunity for growth in 2000 when he stopped making infomercials and put his chemistry background to good use. While situated in El Paso, Texas, he formulated his own skin care line, using grape seed extracts and oils as main ingredients, hired a contract filler and eventually launched his small business to thousands of U.S. Walgreens’ stores and beyond.

GCI: How do you ensure that your brand stays ahead of the competition?

Wayne Beckley: Being small, we are able to develop and release a new product sooner than most. Being a niche line, we are always looking for voids in the market. For example, our latest product is a new purifying, peel-off mask developed as a result of finding a distinct need/void in the marketplace.

GCI: What challenges do you face in this business?

Wayne Beckley: As with any small company, gaining shelf space is always difficult. We have a very loyal customer base and have become a big seller at over 6,000 Walgreens’ stores, GNCs and many winery gift shops. We’ve also been lucky that as awareness increases about the powers of antioxidants, more consumers are turning to our products.

GCI: How common are grapes as ingredients in the beauty industry?

Wayne Beckley: There are several companies now employing grade seeds into some of their products, although none of them use as high a percentage as we do and, of course, don’t market their whole line as grape seed-based as Merlot does.

GCI: What make grapes so useful in skin care products?

Wayne Beckley: Very simply, as indicated by many research studies, the grape seed may be nature’s most powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger. A scientific study by Mori, Nonaka, Nishioka, Niva and Ozaki showed the grape seed to be 50 times more powerful than Vitamin E and 25 times more powerful than Vitamin C.

GCI: From what region do the grapes used in your Merlot Skin Care line come?

Wayne Beckley: We estimate that approximately 75% of the grape seeds come from California.

GCI: Which parts of the grapes do you salvage and how quickly must his process begin as to avoid the raw materials rotting, etc? What’s the basic process of preparing the grapes for use?