FloClaire LLC is located in DeForest, Wisconsin, and markets ethnic beauty products that address the specific and essential needs of hyper-pigmented or melanin-rich skin. FloClaire is the exclusive North American distributor of the O’tentika and Hypercreme product line. These products are developed and produced in Geneva, Switzerland under the strict and high quality Swiss standards. The products are formulated with mulberry root extract and other natural ingredients. These ingredients help to reduce the over production of melanin that can lead to hyper pigmentation in the skin of African, Latino or Asian women and men.
O’tentika and Hypercreme were first introduced in 1986 as an innovative, effective, and specific answer to hair and scalp care problems. A few years later, the O’tentika brand was reoriented exclusively towards ethnic beauty skincare so that the historical knowledge of the company could be fully leveraged. Each of the products has been formulated to deal with a particular aspect of beauty care, but they are even more effective when they are used in combination or complementary to each other. With over 25 years of history, these products are not only safe but of superior quality.
In 2004, Tim Chulu, owner of FloClaire, began selling O’tentika and Hypercreme skin care products from his home. After four years of steady growth, Tim knew he could build a successful business around these products. Tim always knew he had a great brand but the rapid success of the natural skin-care line sales was a surprise even to him. Sales climbed from $7000 in the first year to seven figure sales in just seven years.
FloClaire LLC is off to a great start thanks in part to help from SBDC. Tim says, “Without the SBDC, I don’t think I could have achieved what I have.” While doing research on starting a company, Tim found out that the most important thing is having a business plan. He first took an introductory class on writing a business plan from the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. (WWBIC) and then enrolled in the Entrepreneurial Training Program at UW-Madison SBDC that consisted of small business fundamentals, instruction on developing a business plan and individual mentoring. Tim says, “The class was very instrumental in helping me to see where I was going and not just a tool for getting a loan. It helped me to visualize what I was getting into and to prepare for the problems that were coming.”
SBDC assisted Tim in drafting his business plan as well as directing him to WWBIC for a $25,000 Micro loan and later a $60,000 loan to purchase inventory and grow his business. Tim continues to utilize the SBDC as he hires employees and seeks additional sources of funding. Tim also obtained two 7(a) SBA loans in 2011. Tim, who calls his SBDC counselor, Linda Davies “amazing”, does not have the words to express his feelings about the SBDC making her available to him pro bono.
FloClaire is projecting 50% growth in sales this year and will expand into new markets. The company will be launching a new line with improved packaging and even more natural organic ingredients. To keep up with his growing business, Tim hired one employee in 2010 and recently added two more employees in 2011 that will help with sales as FloClaire expands its reach. You can take a look at FloClaire at http://www.floclaire.com
Tim says, “My goal is to grow the market and my vision is to make O’tentika the number one ethnic brand in the USA”. It will be interesting to watch Tim expand FloClaire’s market in the future.