Pioneers of All-Natural Products
Absolutely Natural manufactures chemical-free skin and sun care products containing essential nutrients, as well as antioxidants, anti-aging and other important benefits
Charley Richards laughs when he thinks back 20 years ago to when he started Absolutely Natural sun care products.
“Metaphorically speaking, being all natural in the early 90s was like living on a deserted island,” says Richards. “It wasn’t very important to most people. Now, in 2012, that island is Manhattan.”
For the past 20 years, the Melbourne-based company has been manufacturing and distributing sun care, personal care and spa products to resort hotels all over the world. The products and distribution are equally unique. “We never use chemicals in our formulas,” explains Richards, “and up until now, we have marketed exclusively to resort hotels.”
Starting in a 500 square-foot facility on Hickory Street in Melbourne with one part-time employee, Absolutely Natural now employs more than 30 people in Melbourne and Hawaii, has 35,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space, and sales of several million dollars annually.
And, the future looks bright.
INGREDIENTS & FORMULAS FOR A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
“From 2008 when the recession started until today we have tripled our infrastructure and gross revenue,” says Todd Anderson, national sales director. Anderson went on to say the company’s uncompromising insistence on the best quality and unique formula is one of the biggest reasons for its success.
Richards is a former teacher and his philosophy has always been that he wants an educated consumer. The company spends most of its marketing budget on educational programs.
“Quite frankly, consumers don’t know what is in the products they use daily and that can have disastrous results,” says Richards. “Too many very harsh chemicals are being used by mainstream companies. Couple that with the fact that products are used incorrectly and it is a lose-lose situation.”
The Absolutely Natural line concentrates on nutritionally beneficial ingredients and formulas that are effective and balanced. “Although our products provide the ultimate beauty regimen, we are really all about a healthy lifestyle,” says Lindsey Barber, the company’s vice president. “Each of our lines provides essential nutrients, as well as antioxidants, anti-aging and other important benefits.”
Richards points out that the company has file cabinets full of testimonials from people who had dramatic, life-changing results using Absolutely Natural products. “It is particularly gratifying to hear from people who have had such great success with our products,” he says.
Anderson is one of the company’s best cheerleaders as he suffered from Atopic Dermatitis to the point where his skin cracked and bled and he was on a heavy dose of steroidal creams that adversely affected his life. His regimen with Absolutely Natural starts with a morning shower using gentle, sulfate-free cleansers and includes lotions, oils, scrubs, butters and creams, adjusting while traveling and/or as seasons/humidity levels change. While not “cured” of his hereditary rooted condition, he now lives symptom free, enjoying healthy skin and relates to the thousands of Absolutely Natural customers with eczema, psoriasis and rosacea who have had success with the products.
SUN CARE SOLUTIONS
In 1992, the company had just eight products, and until 2003, concentrated only on sun care. “Sun care is very important to us because of how devastating a bad sunburn can be,” says Richards. “We have trained thousands of resort employees with our “3-P” system over the years, as well as tens of thousands of consumers.”
Richards explains that everyone has the same needs in the sun but that different products will meet those needs depending on skin type.
The 3-Ps include protectors for sun-sensitive areas of the skin (anywhere the bone is close to the skin), promoters for the rest of the body, and prolongers for use at night.
“It’s a great system,” says Danny Richards, Charley Richards’ son and the company’s production manager. “It allows people to be confident they have chosen the right product for their needs every time.”
Danny Richards points out that higher SPFs are normally suggested for the protectors while moderate SPFs are recommended for promoters. “Of course, one of the keys to having a safe time in the sun is what you do at night. That’s where our aloes come into play. They help heal and condition the skin so you can be prepared for more exposure to the sun,” he says.
All Absolutely Natural product lines have similar educational programs. Charley Richards wants people to closely scrutinize the ingredients in all of his products. “One of the best ways to compare is to look at the ingredient decks. You will not see harsh chemicals in our products,” he says.
The company has made an impact in the resort hotel market and has prestigious accounts worldwide. “Many of the top-rated resort hotels have chosen us for their sun care, locker room products, in-room amenities and spa programs,” says Anderson, who adds that the company’s portfolio include Ritz Carltons, the Sandals Resorts, Grand Wailea on Maui and Aria Hotel in Las Vegas. “For a small company we have an important presence.”
According to Anderson, Absolutely Natural’s versatility is very appealing to resorts. “We can do professional and retail products for the spas and locker rooms. We can make propitiatory products for private label. We have a unique, excellent sun care program that no one else has. We can even do in-room amenities,” he says.
ON THE HORIZON
What’s next for this company that has had offices here since 1988? “We have a lot of exciting programs coming up in the next couple of years including some exciting new products and licensing programs with some high profile clients,” says Charley Richards.
And that crowded island of people now clamoring for natural products? “Well it is gratifying that our ‘crazy’ idea of providing all natural and vastly superior products back in 1992 now seems mainstream, but I do caution people that there is a huge difference between being all natural and companies that just want to be perceived as all natural,” says Charley Richards.
At Absolutely Natural, there is never a compromise.