2010 Smallbiz Success Awards

2010 Smallbiz Success Awards

(page 3 of 8)

Photo:Steve Perotti. Founder Joe Rossi launched the company
with a family recipe.

Export Award:

Maui Babe

Tanning Products Go Global for Maui Company

Maui Babe’s sun- and skin-care products – using natural Hawaii ingredients like kukui and macadamia nut oils, aloe vera and Kona coffee extract – have burst into the global marketplace. In the past four years, the company says, retail sales have grown by an explosive 2,400 percent.

Maui Babe products are sold in five foreign countries – Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Japan – and the company is negotiating to add South Korea, Greece and three Scandinavian countries.

“They’ve got a great niche and a cool Hawaii product,” says John Holman, Pacific Islands director for the Hawaii Export Assistance Center, an office of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Holman, a judge for the SmallBiz Success Awards, says, “Hawaii has a great brand name around the world. People feel positively about the name and their product is a perfect fit.”

Maui Babe considered international expansion after it landed space in some of America’s largest retail chains, including Walmart and ABC Stores. Then, with expansion online, the company discovered its customer base was increasingly global.

“If you have a company that has a market here, I can guarantee there will be a market elsewhere,” says Holman.

Maui Babe did some smart marketing by moving into the Australian market to boost seasonal sales, he says. “If you can get into a market in the Southern Hemisphere, you can hedge the seasonality of the domestic market,” Holman says.

Joe Rossi launched Maui Babe 13 years ago with a secret family recipe. It’s now an eight-person company on a meteoric rise.

Maui Babe’s Amazing Browning Lotion gets raves by customers on its Web site. “This product is fantastic for tanning, and that’s saying a lot coming from a black woman!” says Sydni Usher.

Omar Velez exclaims, “If you want a brown tan, please use this product … It’s worth every penny.”

There are no dyes; the product accelerates the natural tanning properties in the skin, according to the company.

In fact, the company says, the ingredients promote skin health and healing. A study at Rutgers University has also shown the potential of caffeine to help prevent skin cancer in laboratory mice. Maui Babe has pounced on that and the claim shows up on its Web site and in its literature.

The company touts itself as the No. 1 seller in the Islands for more than nine years. Now it’s shooting to be one of the top five brand names in the worldwide sun and skin-care industry.

-By Beverly Creamer

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