SKIN DEEP: Jamaican Sisters Create Care for African Caribbean Type
by Dawn A. Davis
Realizing their dream of giving back to Jamaica in a meaningful way, sisters Felice Campbell and dermatologist Dr. Patricia Yap are transforming lives through care products for the African Caribbean skin type.
Balancing the business side with the medical, the pair has created products for common skin problems many caused by the Caribbean environment they’ve experienced.
AriSulfur Facial & Body Treatment Bar, a leading skincare soap in Jamaica, was launched in June 2012, while the AriScalp Blend started in 2013.
So, how did a local dermatology practice grow into a successful manufacturer of internationally available skincare products? According to Campbell, besides wanting to help build Jamaica, it was time to come up with answers for neglected consumers.
“The motivation stems from a very underserved market,” she explained. “Our people do not have very effective over-the-counter solutions. So we are just responding to that demand for affordable solutions for them so that they can have healthy scalp, healthy skin, healthy nails.”
BIRTH OF A LINE
In her private practice, Dr. Yap provides products for patients suffering from acne, seborrheic dermatitis, Keloid scarring, abnormal pigmentation and hair loss, with much success. Affected by severe acne as a teenager, she was determined to help others with similar problems. After graduation from the University of the West Indies (UWI) with honors in applied chemistry, she enrolled in the University of London’s prestigious dermatology school, graduating with distinction. Dr. Yap returned to Jamaica in 1993 and opened her practice.
Campbell is the business- minded half of the duo. After graduation from UWI, she went on to Grace Kennedy where she received “true business training.” She bought and ran Jamaica Prepack Group, a meat distribution and packaging company, for seven years before migrating to Los Angeles where she did a master’s degree in business. She then went on to mergers and acquisitions at fortune 500 companies Citigroup, First American Corporation and Sage. But, after many years in the American corporate world, Campbell wanted to return to Jamaica.
“I really wanted a reason to come back home and create jobs by getting a manufacturing business going and really contributing to the country again,” she explained.
“I knew that my sister had a successful practice and I knew that over the years, a lot of people from our diaspora, from New York, Atlanta, London and Florida, would fly to Jamaica to see her because they couldn’t find any dermatologist who could address their very common skin concerns.”
It was Campbell who gave birth to the commercial line of products, coming up with the idea of “putting Pat in a box”.
“This became the motivation for creating the over-the-counter products. I really wanted to come back home and create a line of products in Jamaica by Jamaicans for Jamaica,” Campbell added.
The Proactiv line of skincare products made famous by developers Rodan and Fields, who leveraged their reputation to create the successful product, inspired Campbell’s business model.
“I think Proactiv is good, and it works for certain skin types,” Campbell said. “But, certainly for our diaspora we have not seen the results that we would like to see. Because of the direct sunlight and our particular environment, the issue is not bacteria, it is fungus. And a lot of the ingredients in these products do not address fungus.”
The ARI products are developed through AriLabs, the scientific arm of Apex Research Institute (ARI). They also operate Apex Healthcare Associates, the largest medical center in Jamaica, as chief executive and chief financial officer.
AriSulfur Facial & Body Treatment Bar and AriScalp Blend are known for their natural ingredients including volcanic sulfur, Jamaican black castor oil, Jamaican lemon grass oil, eucalyptus oil, moringa oil, and willow bark, which are effective in treating acne, liver spots, itchy dry scalp and razor bumps.
“Some of the ingredients we have to import, like sulfur, which is a natural-occurring element,” explained Campbell. “Sulfur is said to be God’s medicine. In fact, in early times the treatment of choice in Roman days was to soak in a sulfur bath for many skin conditions. What we’ve done is to bring the sulfur to you in the form of a treatment bar so that you can create a bath for yourself.”
Now with United States Food and Drug Administration approval, the skincare products are available in Caribbean beauty and grocery stores in Florida and New York through distributor CariMed.
The sisters are considering a distribution network similar to Mary Kay and will test a course in Jamaica in October for hair dressers and cosmetologists in association with the National Association of Hair Dressers and Cosmetologists.
“We are very committed to Jamaica,” said Campbell expressed. “We are from that Jamaican Chinese tradition that want to give back because we owe Jamaica so much in terms of what the island has given us, and we are doing our part.”
Dawn A. Davis is a freelance writer for Caribbean Today.
Article appears in the Vol. 25 No. 10 September 2014 issue of the Caribbean Today newsletter