Three Rivers, California
Natural Bath, Body and Skin Care Products
Janene Natural Body Products
Three Rivers, California
Industry: Consumer & Lifestyle
Products: Natural Bath, Body and Skin Care Products
When Janene Lasswell started her natural body product line, she brought an innovative, scientific, and personal rigor to the table that has already begun to redefine the skincare and cosmetic industry. Her product line began development upon learning that the FDA was not requiring safety testing on cosmetics, so she joined the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in 2004 and successfully worked to help pass a labeling law in California requiring cosmetic manufacturers to print all ingredients on packaging labels.
"Consumers are looking for safe and environmentally sustainable products," says Lasswell. She points out that the "green washing" of products has become so prolific, that it can be difficult for consumers to make informed decisions when it comes to recognizing the harmful chemicals hidden behind labels touting natural ingredients.
She discovered that the European Union Cosmetic Directive had much stricter guidelines, which she immediately adopted. This gives Lasswell the advantage to export products all over the world due to their higher standards. "I have a reputation for being exacting," says Lasswell. Her products range from anti-aging face creams to pet shampoos, which are all formulated to extensively rigorous standards. She works directly with her ingredient suppliers labs to perfect formulations and ensure quality. She also safety-tests new products prior to sale. "Everything that goes out my door is warranted," says Lasswell. "And I offer a 100 percent money-back guarantee."
This commitment to manufacturing truly natural, safe and high-quality products has led to her success with distributors who are looking to meet the growing consumer demand for them. "When my clients see the lengths I go through to make sure the products are safe and natural, I get lifelong customers," says Lasswell. This personal commitment allows her to stand out as a micro-business in a huge manufacturing world that shells out mass-produced commodities. She offers a lifeline to other businesses looking to contract just-in-time deliveries on custom-made products of 1,000 units or less.
Competing against lower priced, mass-produced products, Lasswell began a campaign to educate consumers. "I am focused on wholesale and online sales," says Lasswell. "This keeps me going since I can only educate one consumer at a time. Once they learn the lengths I go to make sure the products are safe and natural, I end up building more customers and am slowly growing the company with more retail sales. Cash flow was definitely challenging for the first 10 years while developing new products and customers. The growth of the product line led to her opening a new location in Three Rivers, California, on the way to Sequoia National Park, where research and development remain a daily practice.
Challenges: Sourcing natural, affordable ingredients is a difficult challenge for Lasswell. "Every ingredient has batch testing and information that has to be analyzed," she says. "I look for ingredients that have been tested by independent researchers. I deal mostly with American and European companies that offer good lab, efficacy and safety testing. I look for ingredients where I can see the point of origin and I file all this information with the batch logs."
Needs: Educating younger people is something Lasswell feels is very important. "It will personally be very satisfying for me, knowing that young people will go through their lives looking at labels and getting safer products," says Lasswell. "We only know what we’re told and consumers need factual information and research. I encourage everyone to visit the world’s largest, free database of ingredients, cosmeticsdatabase.com, to read about ingredients and products."
Opportunities: Business has been good and Lasswell is looking at opening another facility. "I’ve been doing this for 14 years and I’ve handled the workload myself," she says. "With our new Three Rivers facility, however, we now have expanded capabilities. What’s helped are the local radio and TV stations who have shown interest and helped to promote our products. A good location and reputation also has helped. Lately, I’ve been planning to expand in Hawaii. We have customers there as well. I think I can split the time up between the two locations and hire employees for shipping, marketing and retail sales."