NEW YORK — All trade shows have their share of naysayers, comprised mostly of smaller suppliers quick to point out a lack of buyer attendees and secretive exhibitors. Extracts, however, the trade show for aromatherapy, personal care and fragrance, has emerged as an anomaly in the trade show circuit, where smaller suppliers get as much face time as big players. To prove that point, a random sample of five little-known companies at Extracts’ recent fall show, which kicked off Friday at the Jacob K. Javits Center, couldn’t uncover an exhibitor with a serious complaint. All of the participants for this story were chosen at the start of the show, before buzz could circulate about “must-see” vendors, and before Extracts’ best product and booth awards were announced. Below is a glimpse of their first Extracts experience, what they learned, what they will do differently with their product lines — based on retailer feedback — and whether they plan to return for Extracts’ larger show next spring, to be held March 28 through March 31.
Headquarters: Boston, Mass.
President/ceo: Lisa Brintz, founder
Sales: Less than $1 million.
Company profile: Founded in August 2001, Savon offers all-natural vegetable glycerin soaps with essential oils and extracts. Products include body lotions, soaps, body wash and liquid, both branded and private label.
Current claim to fame: “We are going to be the exclusive supplier for Crate & Barrel’s new bath department next year,” Brintz said.
Were retailers responsive to products? Brintz reported that response was amazing, driven by the booth’s visuals. “Everyone was coming up to see the soaps, and then would stay so they could talk about them and experience their scent.”
Did retailers give good feedback? Brintz learned that buyers want citrus and green scents for spring, and that three product categories are top of mind. “Body mists, pulse roll-ons and gift sets were requested over and over again,” Brintz said.
What do you plan to change, if anything? Brintz said she will consider entering the body mist, pulse roll-on and gift set product categories.
How were the other exhibitors at the show? “A lot of vendors are selling to Mom and Pop-type retailers,” Brintz pointed out, “and while that is good, we are focusing on the bigger players, like Saks, Nordstrom, Bendel’s and Barneys.”
Would you come back next year? “You bet,” Brintz assured.
Company: Traces Fragrances Inc.
President/ceo: Jerry Adams
Company profile: Founded in September 2001, Traces offers a high-end fragrance available in two sizes.
Current claim to fame: According to Adams, “An Estée Lauder vice president came by the booth and took a handful of samples and asked a lot of questions.”
Were retailers responsive to products? “They loved it!” Adams said, especially buyers from higher-end spas and resorts.
Why or why not? “The biggest response we kept hearing is that buyers love the name of the fragrance,” Adams said. “They also love the fragrance, which is a blend of French rose petals, freesia and sandalwood.”
How were the other exhibitors at the show? Adams said he was too busy dealing with prospective customers to talk to any other exhibitors.
Would you come back next year? Adams believes he’ll be at Extracts’ spring show next March, but he suggests that to give the show a bit more mystique, it should be combined with the New York Gift Show.
Company: Vermont Essentials
Headquarters: Bellows Falls, Vt.
President/ceo: Heather Schmitz, founder
Company profile: Founded in July 2002, Vermont Essentials currently offers one product, Naturopatch, a gel patch that incorporates essential oil blends to provide a natural relief to common ailments.
Current claim to fame: Won best new product introduced at Extracts.
Were retailers responsive to products? Schmitz, Vermont Essentials’ founder, reported that Ricky’s and Bendel’s placed orders, and that other big-name companies, such as Bath & Body Works, Avon and Aveda “expressed interest in private label business opportunities.”
Did retailers provide good feedback? “It seems people are really into the idea of preventative health without taking Advil,” Schmitz said.
How were the other exhibitors at the show? Despite some exhibitors who kept to themselves, Schmitz pointed out how nice it was “that Extracts’ other prize winners were congratulatory and really supportive.”
Would you come back next year? “Yes, I plan on coming back in the spring.”
Company: Original Bombshell, LLC
President/ceo: Beverly Burstein and Sasson Marcus, co-founders
Company profile: Founded in May 2002, Original Bombshell is a personal care company offering sun care, lip balm and lotions. It uses women with a Forties flare as icons.
Current claim to fame: Winner of most creative booth award; finalist in Extracts’ outstanding creative packaging and best overall product categories.
Were retailers responsive to products? “Everyone that came over loved the packaging and thought it was a great idea,” co-founder Burstein said. “We got interest from some retailers, including some international retailers. Many buyers said there was nothing like this available on the market, especially in the sun care category, which usually only has clinical, high-end or mass options.”
Did retailers provide good feedback? Retailers, Burstein said, suggested that she consider taking her concept to bath and lip glosses.
How were the other exhibitors at the show? As newcomers to the beauty industry — Marcus is a lawyer and Burstein is a pharmaceutical representative — both said they learned a lot from their neighbors. “We picked up terms for sales reps, and the difference between regional and national accounts,” Marcus said.
Would you come back next year? “Yes, I think we are going to be back,” Burstein said.
Company: Peacekeeper Cause-Metics
President/ceo: Jody R. Weiss, founder
Sales: Could reach $1 million this year.
Company profile: A for-profit company that models itself after Paul Newman’s salad dressing business, Peacekeeper is a line of cosmetics that gives all of its profits to women’s health and human rights advocacy issues.
Current claim to fame: Donating all her profits to charity is fame enough for Weiss, but she would love to meet Evelyn Lauder, one of her “heroes.”
Were retailers responsive to products? Why or why not? “I met with a lot of retailers and made about 20 solid sales,” Weiss said. She believes buyers are interested in her company because Peacekeeper is the first cosmetics company that gives all of its profits to charity and that it’s “connected to the pulse of what consumers are concerned about right now, and retailers are getting it.”
Did retailers provide feedback? “I learned some things about packaging, things like I must have English and French on boxes if I want to sell in Canada. I also learned from buyers to be more flexible in modifying my shipping quantities,” Weiss reported.
What do you plan to change, if anything? Weiss admitted that as she begins to expand distribution, she will need to change packaging.
How were the other exhibitors at the show? Weiss was pleased with the other exhibitors, from whom she learned valuable tips, such as other news about other trade shows and how to expand her business.
Would you come back next year? “I’m so there,” Weiss confirmed.