Bargain-priced, High-quality New York Face Creams
>> The face of America is changing and much of it looks Latino.
Latinos with close connections to South America buy skin care products like everyone else, but they select products based on their knowledge of medicinal ingredients, rather than on brand names or advertising hype.
Many Latinos avoid products containing paragraphs of chemical compounds, few of which are recognizable. They are more likely to buy products clearly named for their medicinal ingredients than those with fanciful names, such as "Mountain Dew Refresher."
Frankly, before this past November, I, as a second generation American-born citizen, was unaware of our cross-continental differences. Until recently, I thought that the Spanish-language isles in local stores were segregated because of translation issues, not product differences.
Upon examining Pathmark's Spanish skin-care section, I was surprised to learn that many of these products were manufactured locally by Promeko of West New York, New Jersey, an appropriate subject for LittleViews.
[ NOTE: Pathmark is a large, Eastcoast grocery store chain. ]
To prepare for the article, I bought two creams (Aloe Vera and Cocoa Cream) to determine whether they were any good. Well! They were so fresh feeling and effective that I decided to try more products. I then threw away 9 jars (worth over $643) of Clarins products (French) to make room. I replaced them with 12 jars (under $45) of Promeko creams, all of which I now use with great delight.
So prepared, I interviewed Edalio (Eddy) Rondon, the Cuban-born co-founder of Promeko. Through him, I learned some tips on what it takes to become an entrepreneurial success and why Latino people demand the best in skin care products, yet still pay reasonable prices.
As many people come to New York to start their own business as well as to purchase unique products, the following is a synopsis of both topics.
Eddy and Ylia (Ellia) Rondon, Cubans, came to the United States in 1965 with their two baby daughters and $1. That buck was spent to pay a baggage handler, leaving them broke. From that moment on, their success in America depended on ingenuity and not a bankroll or a strong command of English.
In Cuba, Eddy was an accountant and Ylia, a chemist. Luckily, Eddy's first job in America was as a bookkeeper in a cosmetic plant. There, he not only managed the numbers, but he went out of his way to meet suppliers, distributors, salespeople, and store managers, even though these people didn't directly effect his job.
I bring this up because today's workers often segregate themselves by department or skill. Few go out of their way to learn about the businesses they work for or take much interest in supply chains. Consequently, when they're laid off, they feel that there is nowhere for them to go, especially in tight markets. With that in mind, perhaps it would be wise for employees everywhere to start following Eddy's lead by being curious about what employers do prior to issuing paychecks. This curiosity might lead to more exciting opportunities, expanding our world-view at the same time.
In Eddy's case, his curiosity paid off. Through his contacts, he gradually learned the business and 12 years later, was able to start his own company, drawing on many of these resources. His company, however, was not in any way in competition with his previous employer, providing him with even more goodwill and avenues of support.
The Rondons were always determined to start their own business, but with Eddy being a wage-earner, they did not have much money. To seed their dream, they saved a small amount from each paycheck, never touching this nest egg, no matter how tough things got.
By 1977, they identified a source of oils used by Latinos to relieve allergies that were not distributed widely in America. With an accumulated $10,000 in savings, they bought a shipment of the oils, rented a 300 square foot room for $150 a month, and mixed, bottled and labeled their new products themselves. Ultimately, they sold the entire quantity to distributors; people Eddy had met through his contacts.
Ylia (pictured above) earned an American Pharmaceutical Degree in 1980 and with that, she was licensed to develop her own formulas, many based on her Cuban heritage. With world markets opening up, she acquired high-quality, fresh ingredients and mixed them with modern blending equipment.
[ NOTE: Ylia passed away in 1998. ]
Today, Promeko makes over 130 products in its West New York facility. Here, they procure and mix ingredients, label plastic jars and glass bottles, fill these containers, package, and ship products. In the picture above, Eddy, who is an energetic, wrinkle-free, 72 year old, holds one of over 150 silk screens used to print labels.
I always love learning about successful people, especially how they make hard work look easy. Based on what I learned from Eddy, here are some worthwhile tips, not all of which were discussed above:
- Personally observe how business supply chains function
- Go out of your way to meet people before you need to meet them
- Tap your spouse or life partner to become a business partner
- Invest in yourself. Regularly save your money, no matter how little, for your own business or educational updates
- Look for income-producing ideas within your own skill, interest and contact range
- Learn how to do your own bookkeeping and stay on top of cash flow
- As a manufacturer, keep your supply and shipping rooms well organized to eliminate confusion and wasteful costs
- Always "do it yourself" before you hire others to do it for you
Latino Skin Care Products
The four foot high vat pictured on the right is being used to mix Concha Nacar (pearl cream), which is made from powdered shells. Next to it, unseen in this photo, is a vat of Cocoa Cream. Yum.
You'll notice that Promeko creams are usually named by their primary ingredient. Turtle Cream (Crema da Tortuga), for example, is prepared with pure turtle oil, which Eddy tells me is very effective in reducing wrinkles. And guess what's in the Cocoa Cream?
Here's a tip: Do you want to attract someone to you? Whether you are male or female, slather yourself with the Cocoa Butter hand cream or Cocoa Cream and people from all over will want to hug you. I think that this product removes wrinkles from the heart as well as from the skin. Medicinally, use it after exposure to the sun or wind. Romantically, use it all the time, even if you sleep alone.
For almost $50, Clarins puts out a 7 oz. cream obscurely called "Lift-Fermente" or "Body Firming Cream". This wonderful-but-expensive cream instantly cures small cuts, rashes and chapped lips, although it's sold as a "skin tightener." There are no ingredients listed on the jar, but I think it is based on Eucalyptus, the proximity of which stimulates nasal passages and causes blood to rush to the surface of skin.
For $2, you can buy Promeko's Pomade (Pomada La Vaquita) which contains Lanolin, Eucalyptus Oil, Menthol Crystals and Pine Oil, and does the same thing as the Clarins product. Although Promade is sold as a skin heating preparation for application over sore joints, instead of a "tightener," it, too, instantly heals small cuts, chapped lips and raw skin, plus it plumps lips, makes a great gloss and can clear nasal congestion.
Promeko markets its creams as the Ms. Moyra brand and its oils as EKO. These oils often sell for under $1.25 and the creams average $3. The most expensive, Concha Nacar, is $7. This product is used to soften as well as lighten skin and age spots. As it removed the tan from the backs of my hands in a matter of days, I can attest that it works. Do not use this cream on dark skin.
Prices are low because the top quality ingredients are mixed into simple, effective formulas that enhance medicinal properties. Their plastic jars or glass bottles (pictured) are labeled by surface direct, single-color printing, or at most, one color printing and black. The company does not advertise, nor does it have a salesforce. All sales and marketing are handled through independent reps.
Here is a sample of Promeko's product lines:
Oils: Almond, Cottonseed, Palm, Eucalyptus, Balsam Copaiba, Sesame, Snake, Caster, Moska, Chamomile, Olive, Whale, Caribbean Coconut, Rosemary, Higuereta, Shark, Avocado, and Bear.
Shampoos and Conditioners: Coconut, Placenta & Vitamin E, Apple, Milk, Lemon, Garlic, Aloe Vera, Chamomile, Jojoba, Horse, Bear, and Garlic.
Creams and Lotions: Turtle, Collagen, Vitamin E, Cocoa Butter, Royal Bee Jelly, Concha Nacar, Mosqueta Rose, Cellulite, Sesame Oil, Vitamin A&D, Aloe Vera, Vitamin C and Santa Medicade.
Other Oils and Extracts: Malt, Honey & Lemon, Fitina, Sancochito, Tolu, Arnica, Beef & Iron, Karey Tonic, Mutton Tallow, Eucalyptus, Mercury, White Iodine, Cinnamon, Anise, Clove, Camphor, Violet, Balsam, Asafetida Liquid, Methyl Salicylate, Zulfur Promade, Menthol Crystals, and Velarian Root.
Unique: Garlic Shampoo and Conditioner, Garlic Nail Polish Hardener.
Where can you buy these? Pathmark grocery stores sell some of the face creams and oils as do many grocery and drug stores with Spanish clientele. These products are very popular in Puerto Rico, as well as in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas, Maryland and Florida.
Promeko itself does not sell over the web, although you can find its oils through search engines.
I'm so enthusiastic about this Latino secret that I'm going to see if a Promeko distribution center can be setup over the web. If so, I'll let you know more as it develops so that you can look good, smell great and save money at the same time.
If you are a distributor, however, contact Edalio Rondon personally at Promeko, Inc., 543 59th Street, West New York, NJ 07093. Phone: 201/861-9446.
Article and photos by Karen Little. First published on 1/2/2002. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.