PERSONAL CARE FINDS A HOME

Byline: Chantal Tode

NEW YORK — By providing a home for gift-oriented bath and body products, the Extracts show — held here this week — has also provided a showcase for the category, according to exhibitors.
Luscious-looking soaps, smartly designed razors and exotic ingredients are just a few examples of the array of personal care products in evidence at Extracts, which had its second run for this year at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center Oct. 4 to 7. It drew 205 exhibitors and 1,500 visitors.
Many exhibitors expressed satisfaction over the fact that they finally have their own trade show.
“We want an upscale personal care show. Even if it takes a few years, we really want Extracts to succeed,” said Brett Goldberg, the president of Ahava, which makes bath and body products using ingredients from the Dead Sea. Goldberg said he has already committed to returning to the show in the spring.
“As soon as you have a show like this, it really helps the category because buyers walk out of here having seen the whole category,” said Jack Hokanson, president of Hoke2. The company makes a line of chic-looking razors that was recently selected for inclusion in the Smithsonian’s Permanent Design Collection.
Extracts is put together by George Little Management, which holds it as an adjunct to the Home Textiles Show. At the show’s first appearance in April, it had 141 exhibitors and 1,400 retailers. Show Manager Aubin Wilson predicted it will grow again by the time it is held next April.
“The variety of the product as well as of the attendees is what makes this show interesting,” said Wilson.
A wide range of industry representatives was present this week, with retailers such as Nordstrom, Ulta3, Holt Renfrew, Kmart and Wal-Mart all on hand. Other attendees, such as Aveda, Zotos and Avon, came to source ideas.
The Extracts crowd had an international flavor as well, with Germany, Singapore, Argentina and Australia, among others, represented on both the manufacturing and retail sides.
Dr. Lynne Galler, president of Mon Jardinet, which makes fragrant bath and body products, commented on the number of orders she had written with international buyers. “It is fairly well known in Europe that the more interesting, creative companies in this category are here,” said Galler. “It’s just no longer true that Europe is where you find the highest quality natural fragrances.”
Many exhibitors said they were pleased to see representatives from large retail chains walking the aisles, but more enthusiasm was expressed about the number of independent boutiques present, which appeared to be a vibrant source of business at the show.
“There is a return to more personal types of stores,” said Danielle Malka, president of e Shave, which makes an upscale line of shaving products for women. “Bath shops are blooming, and spas are important,” said Malka, who added that because these stores are less standardized than some of the chains, getting in the door can be easier.
One of the biggest sources of excitement at the show was the countless variations on handmade natural soaps in evidence. Made with ingredients such as lemongrass, loofah and key limes, they looked and smelled good enough to eat. Some came in bright opaque shades; others were translucent and had whole ingredients suspended inside such as pieces of grapefruit peel or rosebuds. They were frequently displayed in large blocks but are sold at retail by the slice.
One exhibitor, Lemon Grass Body Essentials, started out as a specialty boutique in SoHo four years ago.
Owner Suzette Casio began producing handmade soap using lemongrass after first coming into contact with the herb during a visit to Thailand. Today, she makes 15 different soaps that are all naturally colored with essential oils and herbs.
What makes the soaps unique, she said, is that they contain large chunks of fruit peels, herbs and other ingredients. Some of the new flavors on display at Extracts included Blackberry Lemonade, Ginger Tea and Cool Water Mint.
Casio said that other retailers were coming into Lemon Grass to buy the soaps to sell in their own stores, so she decided to try her hand at becoming a supplier. Extracts is her first trade show.
Get Fresh, another soap line on display at the show, also had its origins in retail. Partners Jacquelyn Overcash and Marianna Verkerk discovered the soaps while in Australia searching for products for the two bath boutiques they will be opening in New York City and Los Angeles next year, said Overcash.
After the two saw the brightly colored soaps made by Harold Good, they made an agreement with him to distribute the line in the U.S. Extracts was the first time the line had been shown here.
Get Fresh provided one of the more youthful takes on the natural soap trend in evidence at the show. The handmade soaps come in brightly colored swirls and use ingredients such as clay, pieces of natural loofah and carrot extract. Individual slices are packaged in zip-lock plastic bags with Get Fresh printed in bold letters on the front.