The demand for organic or natural products has been on the increase over the past few years. From food to cosmetics, people have been searching for products with ingredients found in nature rather than man-made chemicals.
In April 2015, Dr Caroline Singh, a dental surgeon, stepped up to meet a section of that demand when she launched a natural beauty skin care line called Buttered Up. Manufactured locally, the line has no parabens or formaldehyde.
Initially consisting of a turmeric body oil, body scrub and body butter, Buttered Up now has approximately 30 products for face, body and hair including essential oils, facial cleansers, facial scrubs, toners, shampoo, body butters and soaps.
“The mission behind Buttered Up is to provide a safer alternative to skin care. Something that is made locally, something that is of a superior quality.”
She said the idea came to her five years ago as she was suffering with adult acne. She tried a number of spa treatments as well as over-the-counter and professional products but got no results.
Disappointed, she started using natural products, purchased when she travelled abroad, and after 18 months, saw a drastic improvement. “At that time a lot more health food stores were opening up in Trinidad. People were becoming more conscious about healthy lifestyles–what they ate, exercising, and what they used on their skin. So I started to explore what we had available locally and I realised there was a void in the market for products that met a certain standard–of good quality, nicely packaged, and locally made.”
She brought together a team for research and brand ideas, as well as someone trained in cosmetic formulations dealing with only natural ingredients to manufacture the products. Now, they have a larger variety of items than other local brands, with superior packaging and, according to the many reviews on the company’s Facebook page, superior quality.
Singh said Buttered Up had a “cult following” in TT with people posting glowing reviews of their products on social media as soon as they use them.
For example, Melesha Ramlochan posted, “After barely two weeks of using the Helichrysum Oil my skin looks flawless! I used the Helichrysum as a primer with my foundation. No dryness, makeup looked great after hours running around doing errands. My skin simply glows!”
Joelle Sooklal wrote, “I’ve been loyal to the tumeric (sic) scrub for a few years now but sadly I have decided to switch...to the charcoal! Lol. After my first use I found my skin looked even more refined and glowy. I also suffered from severe chapped lips and had no success with any of the well known lip balms. I decided to try buttered up lip balm and was delighted. My lips stay hydrated for hours during the day and even overnight in an air-conditioned room. Great products!”
And there were many other reviews with similar experiences.
Singh believed there were a number of reasons for the enthusiasm for the brand. She said the initial turmeric line built the brand as people already knew about the benefits of the root and regularly ingested it or used it on their skin. “Because people had so much confidence in the turmeric line, all the products we create now, people have confidence in the brand. Also what makes the brand so popular, I think, is the ideas of the formulas, the combinations of ingredients and the names of the products.”
The company also sourced only high-end raw materials so that the quality of the products surpassed many international brands. “For example our body butter formulation is very unique to this brand and can be found nowhere else. We have a lot of international customers who purchase products when they visit Trinidad and they give the same feedback.”
Even during this economic recession, the company continued to add a new product every few months. In fact, she noted that this year her brand grew the most since its inception.
She believed it was because women were becoming more conscious of their aesthetic so they sacrifice other things to take care of their looks. In addition, she said globally the demand for natural products had increased dramatically, the both of which she credited Instagram.
However, she said her products were not out of reach of the average person. She said they were for women from all walks of life who are into beauty, so the prices ranged from $80 to $250. “Because of the reasonable prices people don’t consider it a higher end product compared to a lot of the professional products that are out there.”
The products were stocked in beauty stores, boutiques, a make-up store and even a gourmet shop across Trinidad including West Mall, Valpark, Grand Bazaar and C3 Centre. Customers could also order products on the website, www.buttereduporganicstt.com, but there was no check out so customers had to pay the UPS courier on delivery.
Believing Buttered Up had enough retailers in TT, the company’s next move was to increase brand awareness to the average Trini, and then export. This they started just over one month ago when they launched the line at EC Makeup Bar in Kingston, Jamaica.
“We want to push the brand more into the region and internationally. We already have international customers who, when they come to Trinidad they make sure to buy. Of course we want to make it a household name.”
Singh told Sunday Newsday she always had an interest in beauty, “dressing up” and nice things in general so when she realised how good natural products were, she wanted to make a safer alternative to what was available, something that worked, available to people of TT.
She said as a dentist she educated people on oral hygiene and that responsibility to inform transferred to educating people how to take care of their skin. “People have asked what a dentist knows about skincare. I really believe that anybody can do anything... I am a risk taker. Not everything I have ventured into was a success but I do believe that failure is a part of life and from failures we learn. Challenges are always there. Sometimes we overcome them and sometimes we don’t but we just have to continue working hard.”
More information on Buttered Up could also be found on their Instagram page, butteredup_organics.