And to think, it all started with a quality of life issue.
After their kids were born, Dana and Shaun Roberts wanted to get them away from the “shopping-center mentality” that dominates the U.S. mainland. Their quest for a less consumer-centric lifestyle led them to Hawaii and the founding of Malie (pronounced: Mah-lee-ay, which means “calm serene tranquil”), a personal care company that utilizes the natural ingredients indigenous to the archipelago.
“Using the worldwide web, we were inspired by the nature and plants that were here,” recalled Dana.
At first, Malie offered linen mists, room sprays and hand soaps, but since its founding in 2004, the company’s product line has grown to include anti-aging creams, body washes, butters, soaps and many other grooming staples.
“We learned pretty quickly, say in the first six months or so, that the boutiques wanted body creams and related products. It didn’t take long before we realized that we were in the spa niche,” Dana said.
Once they had found their niche, Dana and Shaun wanted to create products that were organic too. But they found out that their options were limited.
“Six years ago, we couldn’t find organic ingredients,” said Dana. “So we launched the company using natural ingredients. But we realized that we should be on the forefront of organic movement and moved from natural to organic ingredients.”
That decision has put some stress on its supplier base, but Malie relies on a network of 20 suppliers who earn their living on the Islands.
Just last month, the company announced the completion of a three-year transition from natural to organic beauty with the relaunch of Malie Organics’ Pikake Collection. The Pikake Flower is a Hawaiian jasmine. Malie Organics captures the essence of Pikake by distilling the flowers into Hawaiian Hydrosols for a beautiful collection of products.
According to Dana, Malie’s Hawaiian Hydrosols utilize Pikake’s botanical benefits at the molecular level, capturing the true essence and very soul of the flower.
The Pikake collection includes an organic body cream, organic body wash, organic body polish, organic luxe butter soap, organic mist, organic liquid hand soap, soy candle and island ambiance reed diffuser.
A Big Year
While some company executives would have killed for a 6% sales gain in a recession-plagued 2009, Dana says she was disappointed in those results, noting that many retailers were “ultra conservative” in their game plans. But, so far, 2010 results are promising, with sales increasing 24%, due in large part to big gains in Japan. No wonder why Dana is confident about the future, insisting that there will be no double dip and pointing to the fact that her lead times have doubled as the economy has improved. At the same time, she’s confident that Malie Organics will continue to grow.
“For companies where the owners are involved and the products are unique, those brands are growing,” she insisted.
Now, Malie Organics is developing products based on orchid distillation. The company has teamed up with researchers at the University of Hawaii to create new scents based on flower essences.
The Next Big Thing?
Another unique idea whose time has come is KonaRed Coffee Fruit, a new venture developed by Shaun and manufactured and marketed through KonaRed Coffee Fruit & Sandwich Isles Trading Co. This ingredient, a byproduct from the harvest of Kona coffee on the Big Island, is rich in antioxidants. Three raw materials are available to formulators: whole powder (available in 14, 40, 80 and 100 mesh), freeze dried powder (100% water soluble) and liquid extract (100% water soluble).
According to the company, KonaRed polyphenols contain properties that:
• Help fight inflammation;
• Neutralize toxic free radicals that cause aging and disease;
• Fight free radical damage;
• Provide exceptional nutrition;
• Provide anti-viral and anti-bacterial benefits;
• Help protect against systemic oxidative stress;
• Help resist sun damage;
• Boost mood and energy;
• Curb the appetite;
• Help reduce the incidence of oxidative pathologies such as coronary heart disease, inflammation and possibly even certain cancers; and
• Provide health benefits associated with glucose management, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, depression and anxiety and oral health.
In fact, KonaRed Coffee Fruit has an ORAC score of 407,600 per 100 grams—a score that is significantly higher than any known plant product, including blueberry and açai.
With a firm commitment to organic materials and an eye on novel ingredients, Dana and Shaun Roberts are confident in their company and their futures.
“We’re growing faster than we can supply product,” observed Dana. “Next year will be a strong year, too.”