Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 24th 2014 Contents JULY 2014 • WEEK FOUR www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COVER STORY | BG5
we had a diverse population and I could
test my products on all my employees," he
Maharaj said by the early to mid-1990s,
Sacha Cosmetics started to break into the
Caricom markets, but soon found out it was
too small a market.
"We entered Guyana, a small market. Peo-
ple from Caricom look at T&T-manufactured
products as being high quality. But these are
small markets with no money and we thought
that they were not really worth our time and
that the real markets would be North America
and South America. The problem was that
when we started to look beyond Caricom, no
one had heard about Trinidad," he said.
By the 1990s, the Internet started to grow
and the company was able to use this as a
platform to promote its products.
"We then learnt we could sell our products
online and built our first online store 17 years
ago. We were one of the pioneers of using
the Internet to market. In the old days, the
developed world would look at the developing
world as additional markets, but now with
the explosion of the Internet, companies from
the developing world want to break into devel-
oped world markets. It is now an open field,"
Maharaj described online sale growth as
"exponential" because of their new prod-
"We have introduced novel products. We
have introduced a new butter cup powder
and it looks flash-friendly, meaning under
bright lights, dark-skinned people do not
look artificially white," he said.
He advised companies wanting to get into
developed markets not to "bulldoze" those
markets, but to take their time and find a
"There are companies in big countries with
budgets bigger than the gross domestic prod-
ucts of some countries. Our niche is exotic
skin types," he said.
Maharaj boasts that this is Sacha Cosmetics
third year in the California market in the
Sacha Cosmetics started in California as
it is the centre of the fashion industry in the
US. Breaking into that market was the tough-
"After two years of breaking in, we are now
making a profit. People are returning to us.
About 70 per cent of the people who try our
products in California come back. We sell
make up there and our market is any one
who walks in. We sell the dry skin products
which are relevant to skin tones of Caucasians.
And for the people of colour with less options
for products, they love our products."
He said they have begun selling to make
up schools in the United States so students
pay their tuition and must buy Sacha s make
"We go to every make up show in Cali-
fornia. So we are not taking about doing well
in T&T or Caricom, we are doing exception-
ally well internationally," he said.
He gave the secret to Sacha Cosmetics
successes and why its products are sold in
"Sacha Cosmetics is the only make up in
the world that light-skinned Caucasians could
use and darker-skinned people could use and
all the exotic skin tones in-between can use
and look equally beautiful. That is why Sacha
is the official cosmetics of the Miss Universe
Pageant, Miss USA Pageant in 2001 and 2002.
In 2014, we were the official cosmetics of
the Miss Panama pageant," he said.
He said the Latin American market is one
of the company s most important and that
the Miss Panama beauty pageant in 2014 is
testimony to this.
"For the past 60 years, it has always been
won by a Caucasian woman. This year a Black
Afro-Panamanian woman has won and it is
because she used our banana powder that
made her dark skin look natural," he said.
Maharaj said Sacha Cosmetics is still doing
the registration for that market.
"We have created the buzz in Panama. We
have also just finished registration in Colom-
bia," he said.
Colombia had its challenges.
"It is a problem market to penetrate because
there is a market like Venezuela, which will
take everything from Sacha immediately, but
will pay in bolivars and there is no way for
me to convert the bolivars into US dollars,"
Maharaj spoke about the successes in the
"We are already preparing the order for
Cuba for Christmas and next year. We just
signed an agreement with the largest dis-
tributor not only in Cuba, but in Latin Amer-
ica, which is TRD Caribe and owns 2,179
stores and we are the only foreign cosmetics
owner in those stores. These are Latin women
and they love our products," he said.
He said when they first entered Cuba, they
mistakenly thought the Cubans were not
business people, but were surprised by how
that country has supported its products.
"We asked the Cubans why they were so
interested in us and they said Sacha Cosmetics
dominate the T&T market where so many
foreign brands exist, and said they do not
want people who cannot even sell in their
own markets, but want to go to sell there."
Maharaj advised local companies to under-
stand their niche strengths when looking to
break into foreign markets.
He said it is a waste of time to focus on
West Indian communities in New York or
London or Toronto.
"Companies have to look beyond the dias-
pora markets in developed countries. Do not
even think of them. You have to look at the
entire world. About 23 per cent of the world
are Muslims and we developed products for
Muslim women. We ensure there are no ani-
mal products and it is cruelty free. Our prod-
ucts have been certified as halal by the Inter-
national Islamic Association. We can now go
to the Middle Eastern market," he said.
He said they have also made "raves" on
social media with just 135,000 fans in T&T
alone, in addition to Facebook USA growing,
Facebook Panama growing and other parts
of the world.
Maharaj has plans to move into a chain of
make up stores in the United States and Cana-
da called Sephora.
"To get into those markets, we must create
a buzz in product quality and other areas,"
He said ExporTT is funding 50 per cent
of the registration to get into foreign markets.
He described InvesTT as a "progressive"
organisation, but that it lacks funding.
He argues this shows a lack of will by
successive governments to diversify the econ-
"They are willing to help, but the Gov-
ernment cannot say it wants to diversify the
economy and only give ExporTT $10 million
annually. It should be US$100 million annu-
ally. What can they do with $10 million?
Each Government wants to diversify the
economy, but not giving the mechanisms
for it. ExporTT is terribly under funded,"
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