Suzette Shaw Reid and Richard Keating making soap from plantsWednesday, October 27, 2021
AVIA USTANNY COLLINDER
In 2018 Richard Keating and Suzette Shaw Reid partnered to form SuRich Natural Soap Limited, a manufacturing venture based in Kingston that offers skincare solutions from plants.
The company manufactures and distributes plant-based soaps infused with natural herbs such as moringa, turmeric, irish moss, activated coconut charcoal, and aloe vera.
Keating is a building contractor who still works in that field and Shaw Reid worked previously in corporate Jamaica. Both say they dabbled in creating other businesses before SuRich, but those companies were short-lived. They believe their lack of committment to those business ventures at the time was a factor.
The motivation for skincare soaps came, Shaw Reid told the Jamaica Observer, “from two individuals who had a burning desire to start a health-oriented company to help people with skin issues. In July 2017, we decided to create our first bar of natural, vegan soap.
“Moringa coconut bar made from moringa oleifera was our first creation as the nutritional profile of this superfood is extremely beneficial for skincare with high content levels of amino acids, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants.”
The business is currently home-based and operated by both Keating and Shaw Reid. Occasionally, depending on workload, a temporary assistant is hired. Being a small business, though, means roles are clearly defined and time management is fully exercised. In the initial stages, the business started out more as a hobby and so minimal challenges were experienced. Both individuals were also engaged in other projects.
However, with the advent of the novel coronavirus pandemic, their love and knowledge for soap making began to grow. With positive testimonials from customers, Keating and Shaw Reid wondered if the venture could prove worthwhile if they were to add dedication, discipline, and commitment. SuRich has been a different story since then.
The company has seen a successful take-up of products, including its Moringa Coconut Milk bar, Turmeric Clay Milk bar, Aloe Charcoal Chip bar, Irish Moss bar, Charcoal Coconut Milk bar, and Rosemary-infused shampoo bar. Products can be viewed on Instagram at surich_surich.
Shaw-Reid asserts, “SuRich soaps are for hygienic purposes and will help to nourish, cleanse, and purify your skin. With regular usage of the soaps and a healthy diet, an individual will notice consistent improvement in the skin's texture.”
SuRich has had to rely on people who are health-conscious and understand the importance and value of using such products on their skin for healthier bodies.
Shaw-Reid told the Business Observer, "It is tricky for us to pinpoint the main target market because we are not cognisant of these buyers' age, gender, income level, etc.”
The pandemic forced the partners to seek retail distribution in order to be viable and maintain social distancing. As a result, their soaps are now distributed in Natural Health, LifeStore Wellness Boutique, Genus Pharmacy, and Ujima Farmers Market.
The company's co-founder stated, “Similar to most businesses, between last year March to about May the world stood still as fear, doubt, lack of knowledge about a pandemic overwhelmed us.”
Shaw Reid reflected, “In June 2020, when we realised our projects were stopped and bills still needed to be paid, we had to shift things up a bit. We started doing curbside drop-offs, retail distribution, and added a new product, our Flaxseed-infused Seamoss gel, to the SuRich line.”
They have also added a conditioning bar and other healing soaps to the SuRich line. She shared, “This pandemic has taught us having an open mind and being flexible to change and learning to pivot is more important to staying viable in this economy."
The entrepreneur added, “The team at SuRich strongly believes that entrepreneurs must learn to be adaptable to change and show up everyday to do the work even if they don't feel like doing it. They have to remain consistent and patient as results happen over a period of time, not overnight.”