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Ojon Expands Into Bath and Body Category

Ojon plans to break new ground this spring with its first foray into the bath and body category.

Ojon plans to break new ground this spring with its first foray into the bath and body category.

“With Tribal Indulgences Batana, we want to show the world that Ojon isn’t just a hair care line,” said Denis Simioni, founder of Ojon, at a press conference at the United Nations earlier this week.

“Ojon is raising awareness on an international stage and supporting our developing economy,” said Jorge Arturo Reina, the Honduran permanent representative to the United Nations, thanking the company for the impact it has had on his country’s citizens.

Two stockkeeping units comprise the new bath and body collection. Tribal Indulgences Batana Shower Gel, a paraben-free, sulfate-free body cleanser, includes a blend of Ojon, Swa+, Buriti, Acai and copaiba oils, and retails for $28 for 10.1 oz. Tribal Indulgences Batana Body Cream, $40 for 5.9 oz., combines Ojon and Buriti oils and Brazilian Murumuru and shea butter to moisturize skin, and copaiba and Acai oils to provide antioxidant protection.

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Buriti oil, extracted from the nut of the Buriti palm, is highly concentrated in beta-carotene; copaiba, Acai and Swa+ oils are naturally rich in essential fatty acids omega-3, -6 and -9, and are said to moisturize skin and infuse it with essential lipids. The intent is to offer a line with skin care benefits that last long after the product is washed away or absorbed, said Simioni.

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Both products will launch in store at Sephora in April, and are being previewed at Simioni will also appear on QVC to tell the products’ story and demonstrate their uses. In total, the products will be available in about 750 doors in North America, and will soon enter 10 John Lewis stores in the U.K.

The somewhat unorthodox distribution plan will also diversify the brand’s prospects, executives said.

“We think there is tremendous upside potential for Ojon as a lifestyle brand, especially given its channels of distribution,” said Dan Brestle, vice chairman and president of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. North America, speaking to the brand’s TV, Internet and online availability. Jane Hudis, who oversees the BeautyBank, Ojon and Origins brands at Lauder, agreed, adding, “Given Ojon’s compelling story and products, TV is the perfect place to get the brand’s message across effectively.”

While executives declined to discuss sales projections, industry sources estimated that the new line could do $3 million to $5 million in its first year on counter. Industry sources estimated that the company is on track to achieve retail sales of $80 million and $100 million by yearend 2009.

Simioni, formerly an advertising executive, began marketing Ojon after his wife’s grandmother visited from Honduras, leaving behind a baby-food jar filled with a brown paste. Simioni’s wife, frustrated by hair left dry and brittle from the chlorine in their swimming pool, applied the concoction to her hair — and shiny, soft hair resulted, as did the fledgling business featuring the hair potion.

Introduced in the U.S. in 2003, Ojon is currently sold in five countries, including the U.K., Canada, Australia and Germany. Estée Lauder Cos. purchased Ojon in 2007.

Simioni remains proudest of the fact that the company he founded allows indigenous peoples to earn a fair trade living. The Ojon oil, which is the company’s namesake, is sourced from the Ojon tree, which is unique to the rain forest of the Mosquitia region of Central America.

It is produced by the Tawira Indians, “whose name — honestly! — translates to ‘people of beautiful hair,’ ” said Simioni, who formed an alliance with the tribe with the help of Mopawi, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to helping local Indians. In cooperation with Mopawi, Simioni developed a corporate partnership, which now involves thousands of Tawira families. The corporation then obtained exclusive worldwide distribution rights to the Ojon oil, and a portion of the profits from the sale of Ojon products goes directly to the Tawira Indian tribes to assist them in preserving the region’s rain forests, as well as the tribe’s traditional lifestyles.

The oil is harvested and extracted by hand four times a year, in an effort to protect the natural resource, and the Tawira tribes are consulted on all aspects of the business, from product development to marketing.

Simioni hopes to add facial skin care products within the next two to three years, and eventually could add categories as varied as apparel, treatment and color cosmetics.