Entrepreneur Spotlight - Bi-Kai8:00 AM
With the economy as it is and with no indication that it will be getting better, we are seeing individuals embarking on the entrepreneurial path. Be it a side hustle or those taking the plunge (or have no choice but take the plunge) into starting a business and putting in the hard work. One such business is Bi-Kai Cosmetics (pronounced Bee-Ky).
I found out about Bi-Kai through a friend who introduced me to the individual behind the new cosmetic brand, Melrose Boyce. In this post we find out how he got into the business of cosmetics, his newest product about to be launched and his advice for entrepreneurs.
Tell me about yourself?
I was born in the village of Tyrelle's and pretty much lived there all my life. As a matter of fact where I live now is exactly where I grew up. I work for the government teaching Chemistry to upper form students. I am married for 14 years and we have 3 children, three dogs and 4 cats. I am a Christian and enjoy music. I am also a musician and play several instruments mainly piano and bass guitar.
Where did you get the idea for Bi-Kai?
Though I didn't have this particular name then, the idea for a cosmetics company started in 1994/1995 when in a chemistry class on organic compounds, I discovered how they made aromatic compounds. And through further research I learned that this is the foundation of modern perfumery.
I started researching more but discovered that to get that started it is really expensive. So I began to experiment with extracting scents from many of the fragrant plants that we have. I made some scents and people liked it. I went on to work at the government Chemistry Lab, Dunbars where I researched more and found that it was cheaper to start with lotions.
Made my first lotion in 1998 out of beeswax. However to bring a product to the market it must be properly preserved. By that time I was sold on making all natural products however all the preservatives at the time were synthetic. So I kinda shelved the idea for more than one reason.
About 5 years ago I started looking at it again and found that a new company came on stream that was now making natural preservatives. So after many years of R&D here we are.....that's the loooong version
And many of the preservatives still in use today are known skin irritants! But its the lesser of two evils I guess
The name came form combining to Taino words, Bi means life and kai means nourishment. Nourishment for life.....
Interesting. So Bi-Kai was in development for quite a while. How were you able to juggle developing the line and all your other commitments?
I think perhaps that's why it took so long. It requires not only an investment of time but also money. So whenever I could divert funds from regular expenses and commitments I would buy small batches of the ingredients to experiment. Work on formulation...
Time wise, I am a night person so if I couldn't find the time in the day, due to time with the fam or anything else, there is always the night. I get my best ideas then anyway
What is currently available for purchase?
At present or at least when we launch we will have one product the Extrem Moisture Therapy lotion
And what are some of the benefits of Extrem Moisture Therapy?
One of the challenges that many people face is dry skin. And having bought products that are in both lower and higher price brackets the truth is that they just don't work. Our product moisturizes the skin for longer periods of time. It makes the skin soft and supple. It also offers entry level protection from the UV rays of the sun. I say entry level as one can certainly be more protected but it offers basic protection from harmful UV rays. In keeping the skin adequately moisturized, it also reduces the development of premature aging. There are 8 moisturizers in our lotion and not just any 8, but 8 that work together to uncover softer, younger looking skin.
Also whether you have dry or oily skin, the skin still needs to be nourished
You mentioned that you tested products on the market, can you name a few?
My tests have been basic as in how they work on my skin and my family's. In addition I have also solicited reviews from other individuals about how the products work for them. Products like Jergens, Vaseline intensive. There are products on the higher end of the price scale that do work however none are 100% natural
In your product testing what are some of the comments you keep hearing about your product?
Well, I started with my wife who has been a tremendous support and partner in this venture, and who also has dry skin mainly her feet. She had often resorted to pure Vaseline to keep her feet from drying out. First test with the product, just one application in the morning before work she didn't require further application for the day. Other persons report the same thing.
Other comments are, in addition to being really moisturizing, it is also not greasy at all
Others have said it makes their skin really soft. Others said they tried other products that work for a short time and then had to be re-applied but when using our lotion it works longer especially on the difficult areas like the elbows and knees
Person have also commented that it smells good enough to eat smile
Do you attribute the lack of greasiness to the natural ingredients?
Its not just down to the ingredients... when I started formulating the lotion a lot of the formulations came out good but a little too greasy for some. So it really boils down to two things the choice of ingredients and also the synergy of those ingredients. This makes the biggest difference.
It takes a while to determine what will work with what to give the properties you want. And when you are working with 8 different ingredients it can get complicated
So a lot of thought went into formulation of the product. Where do you get your ingredients?
The ingredients are sourced from a company in Miami that imports from the various suppliers. I wanted and still want to use Caribbean suppliers but during formulation the quality that I got was not desirable. However, [if] that quality issue is sorted I will buy Caribbean.
When do you plan to launch this product?
The current launch date is June 30th. So pretty soon
And where can people purchase it?
So far a few. Trendciti beauty supplies, Best of Books in their Made in Antigua section and Loretta of Kinks Coils and Locks has shown interest. We do hope to be in a few more before launch but the final list will be revealed at launch.
As an start up entrepreneur, what have you learned from the process of creating this product and bringing it to market?
I have learned that it takes persistence and commitment. There is so much to deter you from going after your goal. But if you are focused and determined you can do it.
It also requires a huge financial investment. If you have to do it out of pocket as I have it will take longer but you will get there
The greatest feeling you will get is when you finally get there and look back at what it took, you get this overwhelming sense of achievement
Sounds like this is just the beginning. What can we expect in Bi-Kai's future?
Bi-Kai cosmetics will continue to develop a full range of natural cosmetics. More than just creating products, we want to develop a relationship with our customers where we can give to our customers exactly what they want
Eventually I would like to come full circle and get back to where it all started....Perfumes. Our customers can expect a full range of natural products
How does the public get in contact with you? Is there a website, a Facebook page?
The Facebook page is Facebook.com/bikaicosmetics
The website address is bi-kai.com however that is still under development and will launch pretty soon.
Until the site is up and the email address is live persons can always inbox me on the page. While they are there they can also like the page
In one sentence, how would you describe your business?
Our slogan is Nature unleashed in the palm of your hand
If could have one super power, what would you choose?
My super power of choice would be healing. Lots of people need some kind of healing today
It took Melrose about 20 years to get to this point in his business but as you read, the sense of achievement made it worth it. The world is changing, no longer should we keep that idea buried in our minds as we work the 9 to 5. It won't happen right away, it may even fail, but at least you tried and you can always try again.
I would like to thank Melrose Boyce for granting me this interview. Be on the look out for the launch of Extem Moisture Therapy Body Lotion at the end of June 2015. Be sure to like Bi-Kai's FaceBook page.
If you are an entrepreneur living in Antigua and you would like me to spotlight your company, email me @ asilomik[at]hotmail[dot]com and put in the subject Entrepreneur Spotlight. I love getting to know people who are willing to take the risk in starting their own business.
pic 2 : Allure pic 3: Madame Noire pic 4: CNN