SOMETIMES a bad situation can lead to a great business idea.
That was exactly the case of Natmed Ltd., a Saint Lucian company formed by naturopathic doctors, Dr. Carlos Segovia and his wife, Dr. Gayle Devaux-Segovia. Would you believe that their ever-growing business really got started just because of a few mosquito bites?
The story goes that after studying and living in Canada, the Segovias moved back to Saint Lucia 19 years ago. Since they specialized in acupuncture and chiropractic stuff, they began producing naturopathic medicines and treatments after opening their practice here in January, 1996.
In August that year, after the Segovias’ firstborn began getting stung by mosquitoes, Dr. Devaux-Segovia decided to use her expertise towards developing an all-natural homemade mosquito repellent. After handing out a few samples of the mosquito repellents to friends and relatives, the feedback she received suggested that she bottle the product and offer it for sale. The success of the product precipitated the establishment of Natmed Limited in July, 1997. And the rest is history, as they say.
Since then the Segovias have branched out to making herbal medicines, soaps, suncare and spa products. Today, they literally supply every spa on the island, including the hotel spas. They also do customized bottling and labelling.
“Natmed Limited’s goal has always been to produce all-natural products of the highest quality and to make them affordable to the general public,” co-owner, Dr. Gayle Devaux-Segovia, says. “Over the years, we have produced these all-natural products based primarily on the needs of our family and our clients.”
The company, which has been renamed Caribbean Blue Naturals by Natmed Ltd, has various lines of products, namely suncare, repellent, soaps, body essentials, spa –face, and spa – body care. In total, Caribbean Blue Naturals by Natmed Ltd. manufactures nearly 300 products at its full lab at Cap Estate.
The company markets its products under two main brands: Caribbean Blue Naturals and Natmed Herbals. Caribbean Blue Naturals include all-natural skincare products, such as sunscreen, repellents, moisturizing lotions and creams, massage oils, body scrubs, body wraps, body butter, lip balm, hair oils, facial products, deodorant, hand sanitizer and soaps. The Natmed herbal line includes all-natural herbal liquid extracts for internal and external use.
“Our main local ingredient is coconut oil,” says Franka De Freitas, the company’s Sales and Marketing Manager. “It’s a bit costly but we still use the unscented coconut oil because if we used the virgin coconut oil the cost of the product will go up. We also use other local ingredients such as cocoa sticks, cinnamon, seaweed, sulphur mud, and so on.”
Various spices are also used in the products, as well as exotic essential oils from as far as Indonesia and Malaysia. However, the products are gentle and nourishing and free from harsh synthetic chemicals, fragrance and colours.
The soaps are all-natural coconut and olive oil with added natural ingredients for clean, toned, soft, moisturized skin and come in the following varieties: citrus aloe, cocoa mint, floral white, sugar spice, green clay, pink clay, red clay, yellow clay and sulphur mud.
The body essentials line include the purest, most gentle ingredients for all your basic body care needs and come in the following varieties: deodorant and body spray, massage and body oil, seaweed mineral scrub, lip balm, hand sanitizer, and rehydrating lotion.
Age-defying facials, tea tree facials and aloe vera gentle facials comprise the spa — face line while chocolate/coconut and mango papaya/passion fruit scrubs, oils, lotions and creams comprise the spa – body care line.
The company currently exports its products to the U.K., Barbados, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Antigua, Dominica, Singapore and the Maldives. Even the rooms in British billionaire Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island carry Caribbean Blue Naturals by NatmedLtd’s products.
The company won five awards at the St. Lucia Manufacturers Association’s Quality Awards this year; two years ago, it won three. De Freitas says the company proves that there’s a wide scope for opportunities in the local manufacturing sector.
“Of course, we need a lot of support from the government. As a small manufacturer, it is very important. However, many people who want to get into the manufacturing sector have no idea where to start besides the finance part. But we work alongside the Ministry of Commerce and TEPA (Trade Export Promotion Agency) who made us who we are today in terms of our exports. So I think the government agencies need to be more involved in getting the word out to let people know that it is not that hard to start a manufacturing company in Saint Lucia,” De Freitas explained.
Many of the products from the Caribbean Blue Naturals by Natmed Ltd. are available in local supermarkets and drugstores, If you haven’t tried any of them, De Freitas explains why you should.
“What makes us different is that our products are all-natural and locally-made. We have a number one product that’s made locally.”