Byline: Chantal Tode

NEW YORK — Manufacturers and retailers are searching for ways to exploit what they see as a consumer desire to find a little more luxury at home.
This was the message made apparent by the large selection of aromatherapy and specialty personal care products paraded at this week’s inaugural Extracts show.
Extracts, run by George Little Management and held April 12-15 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here, marked the first time aromatherapy, home fragrances and gift bath and body products were brought together for their own show. Until now, these items have been tossed in with a hodgepodge of categories as part of various gift shows. George Little will hold Extracts again Oct. 4-7.
The approximately 1,400 attendees at Extracts came from all classes of trade. For example, Donna Karan Beauty Co. and Comme des Garcons, which recently introduced a shower gel, were both exhibitors at Extracts. Their presence indicates that companies like these may be looking for ways to broaden distribution for their fragrances, home fragrances and personal care products.
Some of the retailers who walked the aisles of Extracts included representatives from J.C. Penney Co., Nordstrom, Cosmetics Plus, Cosmetic Center and Sears, Roebuck.
Not only were the mass market, the prestige market and everything in between represented at Extracts, but a wide selection of buying categories, from home textiles to health and beauty aids, was in evidence.
The variety reflects the fact that the market for bath and body products, home fragrances and aromatherapy isn’t dominated by any one retail formula. Fragrances are sold in bath departments, after-bath sprays are found in fragrance sections and bath and body products show up in linen stores.
To that end, George Little planned the show to coincide with the New York Home Textiles show because an increasing number of linen stores — such as Bed, Bath & Beyond — and home textiles sections in department stores are adding personal care and home fragrances to the merchandise mix.
Extracts exhibitors expressed excitement over the exposure aromatherapy received at the show — in particular because many retailers are reluctant to embrace aromatherapy wholeheartedly until they understand it better.
Interest in aromatherapy is growing, made apparent by the fact that Extracts’ Monday-morning seminar on aromatherapy was sold out in advance and had a waiting list. (See sidebar for more on the seminar.)
The wide selection of new products on display at Extracts gave some indication of what a few of the next bath and body trends could be.
“Because so much of this business is driven by entrepreneurship, manufacturers are trying to do something different from everybody else,” said Aubin Wilson, the Extracts show manager. “One of the things that surprised me at the show was that there wasn’t a lot of the exact same thing being shown. Everybody seemed to distinguish themselves.”
Earth Therapeutics, which makes bath and body products and accessories, is distributed in stores such as Ulta3 and Cosmetic Centers. At Extracts, the company was showing a new sponge, cleansing towel and cleansing mitt that are woven from milk protein, which the company says is gentle on sensitive skin.
John Kang, managing director for Earth Therapeutics, said the items did well in a test in Japan. The company decided to bring them to the U.S. market because of a growing interest in products for sensitive skin.
In July, Earth Therapeutics will introduce milk protein bar soap, body lotion and body wash to complement the accessories line.
Kang also said tea tree oil is a strong trend in personal care. “It is going to be the next aloe vera. There is still a lot of room left for it to grow since the average consumer doesn’t know about it yet.”
Earth Therapeutics has a line of footcare products with tea tree oil. (See page 10 for a related story.)
The use of teas in body care products is just starting to take off as a trend, said Kang. Green tea, for example, works as an antioxidant ingredient.
With regard to Extracts, Kang said he thinks the show “has potential.”
“There are a lot of designers coming, so I think you’ll have major buyers coming in the future,” Kang said. “Right now, it is still a lot of small suppliers.”
Philippa C. Feigen, president and chief executive officer of Waterleaf, agreed that tea is the next big ingredient for body care products. She said black tea is being billed as an up-and-coming ingredient for personal care products because it helps clear away the cholesterol that builds up in people’s systems. Waterleaf is currently working on developing a way to use black tea topically.
Waterleaf recently added Green Tea bath and body care to a line of tea-based products that includes custom-blended teas for drinking, bath tea infusions and candles. The Green Tea bath gel, shower exfoliater and body moisturizer will ship in June and will retail for $20 each.
Waterleaf is sold in stores such as Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman and Gumps.
Gloria Maccaroni of Waterleaf said that while she was pleased with Extracts, not a lot of orders were being written. Still, “because it’s tied into the Home Textiles show, it is bringing in people who haven’t seen many of these lines before.”
Lainy Rappaport, national gift sales manager for Essential Elements, which makes aromatherapy body care and hair care, was very pleased with the appearance of retailers such as Jacobson’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Dillard’s and Bloomingdale’s at Extracts.
“This is a nice show because it offers retailers the opportunity to research this end of business. The timing is a little close to the New York Gift Show, but we are getting some new customers at this show, such as those from linen stores.”
Essential Elements will introduce a sandalwood line this summer that includes bath salts, gels and soap. Rappaport said there were a lot of requests for the sandalwood scent — Essential Elements already offers a sandalwood lotion — which is why it decided to do the extensions.
The new products are “geared more toward men because men are starting to learn more about good products,” Rappaport said.
“We expect it will be a good new business for us.”
There was no shortage of fresh takes on bath and body products at Extracts.
The Thymes Limited presented its new Vital Thymes Hand Care brand, which is made up of four lines of products specifically for the hands: Soothing Habits, Sink Set, Gardener’s Hands and Aroma Therapy.
Botanical Concepts, which manufactures bath products for private label use, has recently introduced four retail lines with scents such as The Moon & Stars, The Sea, The Sun, Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn.
The company is also currently working on bath “spheres” that produce a foam and a nonaerosol foaming pump for shaving gel and styling mousse.
Joneses has a new body and bath line called Vitamin Plus that treats the body topically with vitamins A through F. The line also includes vitalizers, essential oils that are available in five formulas: enhancing, harmonizing, energizing, stimulating and meditation. The products’ brushed aluminum canisters are intended to give this aromatherapy line a high tech look.

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