A chance business deal struck in the heart of Paris in France, marked the beginning of what may just become the next beauty products empire in Kenya.
When Melanie Wetuka, the Managing Director of Suleco Contractors Company paid a visit to Stephanie Guittonneau’s exhibition stand in the La Foire de Paris trade fair, fate had it written in the stars that the two would embark on an unprecedented journey together.
Melanie Wetuka had just embarked on a three country trip to Germany, France and Dubai by members of the KCB Biashara Club where the opportunity presented itself to her and 94 other traveling club members to learn, network and explore business opportunities in the three nations.
One of the expos the members attended was the La Foire de Paris trade fair where over 400 French SMEs in fashion, lifestyle, food and personal care were exhibiting their goods and services.
It was here that the trans-continental partnership was born, riding on the wave of popularity embracing a growing movement towards natural beauty and aesthetics in cosmetics and skin care.
“At the exhibition, I got to a stand which attracted me because of the beauty products that were on offer. This is where I met Stephanie who explained that the products are made out of natural Shea butter, cocoa butter and Moroccan Argan oil,” says Melanie.
Stephanie Guittonneau, founder of Paris-based Divas Fabulous had caught wind of the natural beauty revolution and did not miss the chance to jump on the opportunity. The worthwhile path that ultimately led her to Melanie.
Through a translator, the two got talking but initially, Melanie had no intentions of buying the products – a business opportunity was not even in the horizon. However, just to experiment, she bought one a lotion product and after using it, was immediately won over.
She returned to the stand the very following day. Her reason for going back? “This was a different kind of product from what we are used to in Kenya,” says Melanie. “It has no skin lightening elements, is made of pure natural ingredients and it really smells nice.”
That was when the Eureka moment happened. Melanie figured that this would be a product that would find a ready market in Kenya and incidentally, Stephanie had been thinking of how to get her products – which she has labeled Beaute Insolente ultra nourishing oils – to Africa.
The perfect match
“It is at this point that Stephanie asked me if I would help her sell the products in Africa…and I said ‘Yes, why not? I could help,” Melanie says.
Within 24 hours, the two had signed a distribution deal which stipulated that Melanie would be the exclusive vendor of the Divas Fabulous products, not just in Kenya but in Africa – growing the vision by leaps and bounds.
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The first consignment of products is due to arrive in Kenya in July and Melanie has already signed an agreement with one of the top beauty retailers in Western Kenya to stock the products. Although the price is a bit higher than the market standard, Melanie is optimistic that consumers will be sold on the quality of the products.
In the future, she plans to develop the partnership with Stephanie through the establishment of a manufacturing plant in Kenya which will bring down the cost of the products and also create employment locally.
“This is one of the best trips yet. It has created a small start-up for me which has the potential to grow very quickly considering the high quality of products,” Melanie affirms.