NEW YORK — Extracts, the trade show for aromatherapy, fragrance and personal care, turned out another batch of ambitious beauty suppliers seeking retail distribution at this spring’s show, held March 28-31. More than 250 exhibitors aimed to lure boutique and department store buyers to their elaborately decorated and fragrant booths. And many succeeded, as offerings for brides-to-be, teens, sex kittens and natural-product lovers emerged as show hits.
For low-maintenance brides, or rather, the 70 percent of women who apply their own makeup on the big day, there’s now BridalBabe, cosmetic kits that make choosing the right beauty products a no-brainer. Makeup artist Janice Kinigopoulos, who also works on the set of the HBO drama, “The Wire,” created BridalBabe for all the girls desperate to look like a magazine cover model without paying a large makeup artist fee. The kits, which are packaged in bridal-like white net pouches, are filled with lip gloss, foundation, blush and eye shadow, and include application directions. Kinigopoulos tailored kits for four different types of brides: the glamorous, the natural, the princess and the classic bride. BridalBabe pouches are estimated to retail for $40.
One of the most talked-about companies at Extracts was Skincandy, a colorful line of bath and body products that are packaged with sweet treats in plastic zip-up carryalls. The Orem, Utah-based company is currently deciding on which retail strategy to explore, seeing that both Bloomingdale’s and Target are interested in carrying it, said Skincandy co-founder Mindy Arnold. The line is already sold in approximately 75 boutiques on the West Coast, with prices starting from $5 for 4-oz. bath gels and body lotions to $22 for a 16-oz. grapefruit sugar scrub.
Aromatherapy products continued to be popular at Extracts. Some of the newest players included b., an all-natural product range incorporating organic and wild crafted oils out of East Hampton, N.Y. A body balm, a mist and a bar soap are designed for three different lines: b.bath; b.kitchen and b.child. The set is packed in a mini canvas tote by founder Suzanne Spencer and has a suggested retail price of $83.
For the aromatherapy buff with sex on the mind, there was Angelic Aromas, a 10-year-old company just making its debut on the East Coast. Libby Patterson, founder of the Oakland, Calif.-based company, packs essential oils and herbs into bubble baths, spray mists and lotions touting names such as Atomic Attraction, Hot Magick Sex and Love Spell. There’s even a Break Up Kit, comprised of Emotional Purification and Worship Me bath products, for when love goes down the drain.
Items with a natural bent received more quality face time with retailers this season than past shows, suppliers said, thanks to the implementation of organic standards in October 2002, which requires that products labeled as organic be inspected and verified by a certification agency approved by the USDA.
Pharmacopia, a four-year-old bath and body company based out of Mill Valley, Calif., recently repackaged its lotions and body washes to prominently tout their 80 percent and 70 percent organic ingredient lists, respectively. The percentage of organic products used in each item is required by the USDA, said Pharmacopia president Lisa Levin. Pharmacopia products retail for $19 for a 10-oz. body wash to $23 for a 10-oz. lotion.
Pangea Soap Works, a soap maker from Boulder, Colo., touts its bars as organic, too, and says so on labels. “Organic is starting to matter big time,” said Tom Lena, president of TLM, Pangea’s manufacturer representative. Pangea soaps, which are made from coconut oil, olive oil, organic hemp seed, organic green tea, peppermint, essential oil, organic rose petals and organic mint leaves, met with many boutique buyers at Extracts, and plans to enter Whole Foods markets in the next several weeks.
Despite getting more attention and respect, natural companies still have fundamental challenges facing them. Valerie Bennis, founder of Essence of Valley essential oils, observed, “People still think aromatherapy means a pleasant aroma.”