A new line of skin care products, Absolute Koko, is relying on the soothing power of the coconut.
The products are the latest creation of Exotic Scents, a company owned by Seychellois couple Maria and John Sullivan. Maria was the winner of the second edition of the FemBioBiz competition held in May this year.
“With this product, we are using the whole coconut,” Maria told SNA at her home-based factory in Beau Vallon, in the north of the main island of Mahe.
Maria feels that coconut is being underutilized and undervalued in Seychelles – a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. “If in the days gone by, copra was the pillar of Seychelles’ economy, why can’t we look at how to make use of the resource which is found in abundance on the islands?” said Maria.
Exotic Scents currently employs 10 Seychellois – all women. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
The Absolute Koko range includes cold press coconut oil, soap, sugar scrub, and body butter is proving to be a success and selling very well. Maria explained that through her products she is using all of the coconut so as to ensure that nothing is wasted.
“The soap I have made has used the coconut oil, the coconut milk, the coconut cream, and the coconut water. I ground the coconut shell to make a soft exfoliator which I have put in the soap. And the coconut that I have grated to get milk from, is also put on top of the soap,” explained Sullivan. Even the husk of the coconut is used as part of the packaging.
The entrepreneur started her venture in 2005 and initially made craft items, soap packaging, whilst specializing mainly in jewelry making. But Maria decided in 2013 to venture fully into handmade soaps using only natural products including vegetable oils, plant and fruit extracts, as well as other essential oils. Hence the birth of Exotic Scents.
“I was already using these products which I made myself due to skin issues. So we decided to start with a few soaps in the shape of coco de mer, tortoises and the rest is history. We basically listened to the market,” explained Maria.
The soap I have made has used the coconut oil, the coconut milk, the coconut cream, and the coconut water. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
According to Maria, doing business is one thing but she thoroughly enjoys making different products.
“It is a very creative work. With natural soaps, you can make so many designs, so many different shapes. Initially, the products were geared for the tourist market, but now the different body care products, massage oil, and candles are available to locals as well.
Marie Celine Zialor, head of Entrepreneurship Center at the Guy Morel Institute, said that the indigenous knowledge and indigenous plants of the islands have many potentials.
“We have focused on the trade aspect and not on the production side, with the excuse that it is too expensive to produce. Even with new technologies we have not innovated and have not encouraged people to venture in such. We always think that we are too small and that the sea is the only resource, but this way of traditional thinking has to change,” explained Zialor.
Maria said that currently, the company has started procedures to get the soap tested at the Seychelles Bureau of Standards.
“We hope when I go to South Africa for the Fembiobiz competition to link up with a laboratory to have the soap tested,” explained Maria, who adds that in the future she wants to export her products especially to Europe where the demand for organic natural skin products is very big.
Exotic Scents currently employs 10 Seychellois – all women – and has outlets at Eden Plaza shopping center, Savoy Resort and Spa, Coral Strand Hotel and at the departure lounge of the Seychelles International Airport.
Source: Seychelles News Agency