David Chong Ling Jr, founder of Prudent Caribbean Ltd, is passionate about self-care in an era where many people seem too busy and put proper self-care on the last rung of their daily to-do list.
His brainchild was born from a desire to produce safe and affordable self-care products that are also certified organic for people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds across the region.
How does he feel about the company's growth, especially in an unprecedented business environment following the spread of covid19?
"The feeling is inexplicable. I saw my dream become a reality and it has given me a profound sense fulfilment and accomplishment," he told Business Day.
The 30-year-old businessman was inspired to establish Prudent after hearing many people, men and women alike, saying they could not find brands, especially for their hair, that worked well for them. Many complained of problems from frizzing, due to humidity, hair loss and slow beard growth. He saw an opportunity and planned accordingly.
Chong Ling said, "We did our research and confirmed there were more imported products on shelves than products made in Trinidad and Tobago. And the locally made products often seemed sub-par to those imported. Bottle design and labels were not as attractive. We intended to create a brand that could match the most premium brands being imported, in every way. We wanted to produce something Trinidad and Tobago can be proud of."
The point of ideation to fruition took just about a year – a year of tireless work which included sourcing reasonably priced certified organic raw materials, gathering a team for planning and promotion while fine-tuning product presentation.
"When it came to things like labels, it was evident that many young entrepreneurs, especially, didn't pay close enough attention to presentation. Many were not ensuring their labels were printed properly. We wanted to do something clean and modern that could appeal to everyone."
Prudent started in late 2019 by approaching barbershops and salons.
"We had to start spreading the word to build some kind of buzz while establishing relationships as we got a feel for the environment we were about to enter. So, we started with the people who know hair and skin care best – the people who run barbershops and salons."
Prudent got its footing by supplying barbershops and salons with shampoo and conditioner in a range of sizes, as much as by the gallon.
"They were all impressed, as were their clientele."
Initially, as is with almost any new product, he said, there was some hesitancy from customers and partners when approached by the Prudent team. "However, based on a rigorous marketing campaign, the company has seen consistent growth for both supply and demand of our product."
The company now supplies barbershops and salons nationwide making deliveries across Trinidad and collaborates with partners in Tobago, whom customers may contact for products including shampoo, conditioner, hair and beard oils.
Since the official launch in November 2020, he said the feedback has been astounding and the reach of their products continues to expand amid the challenging economic period in the wake of the pandemic.
"We also provide the service of creating personal branding for salons, barbershops and other companies. So, the labels would reflect the name of the organisation, with a note indicating that it is made and packaged by Prudent."
This, he said, is a mutually beneficial marketing approach as it boosts exposure for both parties.
Prudent also provides organisations such as corporate offices with products in bulk, based on the demand.
While the pandemic affected shipping, Chong Ling said the company is nevertheless able to meet the demand.
"For our first batches of raw materials, which we got before covid19, orders would take an average of three weeks to arrive. Since delays caused by the pandemic, raw materials and bottles can now take as many as six weeks to get here. But thankfully, it has not drastically affected our business because we order enough in bulk to meet the demand."
Comments from people who use the products can be found on the Prudent website, on which people can post their feedback.
Comments include Megan Lategan, who wrote, "This stuff is exactly what I’ve been looking for! Great consistency and it feels so refreshing. Thank you Prudent Caribbean. Keep it up."
Another customer, Shawn, said, "This product is so simple and natural. It's the only product that helped me with my dry scalp", while Jordan, said, "The sulphate-free argan oil shampoo leaves my hair so soft and shiny. It’s the only thing I use now."
Chong Ling looks forward to seeing what may unfold for the company with the passage of time.
"We do not only want a strong foothold in the personal care industry in TT but to become a household name across the region."
The company has therefore sought to further its impact beyond caring for hair and skin.
Chong Ling recently established the Prudent Caribbean Foundation. He said the primary objective of the non-profit foundation, at this point, is to assist in uplifting, educating and protecting vulnerable women.
In July, the foundation organised its first community outreach programme by accepting essential personal care products for underprivileged young women in group homes. The foundation collected items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, disposable wipes, body lotion, tissue, and donated shampoo, conditioner and soap.
Chong Ling said the company wants to do more, "Doing more now includes proceeds from our sales going toward the foundation."
For every sale made by Prudent, 15 per cent of the proceeds will be donated to the foundation to assist in purchasing food, clothing and toiletries for women and girls to assist in improving their quality of life in a small way but important way.
To explore their line of products, shop, or get more information on the Prudent Caribbean foundation visit prudentcaribbean.com