By  on June 15, 2009

New York-based Sponge Skincare, a 10-item assortment of face and body care products that’s made in Greece, is bullish about expansion this year.

The brand, which was launched exclusively last summer at Barneys New York locations in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, is close to wrapping up a one-year exclusive with the retailer and has, according to founder Markos Drakotos, set its sights on international expansion.

Industry sources estimate the brand has so far rung up retail sales of $500,000 at Barneys.

Drakotos said during a recent interview he plans to launch three new products in the summer and fall of this year; a five- item bath line, also in fall, and a baby care line in spring of next year.

International expansion plans center around talks to launch the brand in the U.K., France, Greece, Russia, Poland, Hong Kong, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. Drakotos said he is currently in negotiations with specialty stores to introduce the line in global markets.

Industry sources project the product launches and distribution expansion could push global retail sales of Sponge Skincare to $5 million annually by the end of 2010.

Aside from Bar­neys, the line can now be found at the Plaza in New York, at Dermstore.com and at spongeskincare.com.

“The idea is to grow slowly,” said Drakotos, “so people learn about the quality, effectiveness and care that goes into how [products] are made.”

The Sponge assortment features hypoallergenic products that are paraben, alcohol and chemical free. In a factory in a residential area of Athens, plants are boiled at different temperatures to produce extracts of rosemary, peppermint, rose and olive leaf, among other ingredients.

Sponge’s name is a reference to the sponge harvesting operations centered around the Greek island of Symi. “The sponge absorbs nutrients from the sea,” Drakotos remarked, “and the skin absorbs nutrients from Sponge skincare.”

The brand was inspired by a leg cream that Drakotos’ uncle, an OB/GYN in Athens, originally developed for pregnant patients in the late Sixties. Then, 13 years ago, Drakotos, an attorney by trade, decided to create a version of that cream to kick off development of Sponge.

Today’s iteration of the cream, called Anti-Fatigue Leg Cream, $110 for 3.4 oz., is infused with extracts of calendula, sage and mastic, a sap from trees found on the Greek island of Chios.

Prices in the line range from $45 each for lavender, jasmine and sweet basil aromatherapy mists to $110 for the leg cream and for the 3.4-oz. Comfort + Elasticity Cream.

In July, Drakotos plans to add a cleanser to the assortment and, in September, he plans to launch an eye cream and an eye gel. While details of a Sponge bath line have yet to be finalized, the baby line is to include honey and chamomile-based products like a cream, oil, shampoo and soothing gel.

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