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May 2011 — Web Exclusive

Texas Entrepreneur Acts Naturally

Larson’s popular line of baby products has earned the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program green seal, because 95 percent or more of their ingredients are organic.

Green Exports Keep Company in the Black

By David Bloom

Naturally, every successful entrepreneur needs a good idea. For Lafe Larson, it was only natural for him to go natural — and organic.

Since 1997, when Larson started Lafe’s Natural Body Care by selling mineral-salt “deodorant stones” out of a spare bedroom, natural and organic products have grown in popularity, both in the U.S. and around the world.

Today, natural body care is a vibrant $785 million industry growing at a 15 percent clip annually. The products have spread from new-agey health stores to the aisles of your neighborhood grocery stores and pharmacies. That’s because today’s consumers are increasingly aware of potential health risks from the chemicals commonly found in personal care products. The growing popularity of all-natural body care products is an outgrowth of the overall health and wellness movement as well as growing concerns about the impact of chemicals on the environment.

The Natural Personal Care Industry — Quick Facts

U.S. sales of non-food natural products topped $56.7
Billion
in 2009, registering
9.7%
Growth
for the year.

Total growth in the non-food natural products industry is expected to average about 12%
annually.

Source: Partnership Capital Growth LLC

Going Global

Do you know of a smaller Texas company that is making strides in cultivating international sales? Let us know and we might profile it in an upcoming issue.

Larson’s popular line of baby products has earned the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Organic Program (NOP) green seal, because 95 percent or more of their ingredients are organic. In addition, the packaging uses “baby-safe plastic” and is free of potentially harmful chemicals. Products with the NOP designation must be manufactured in a facility that adheres to USDA rules dictating how materials are received, warehoused, mixed and sanitized. All of Larson’s products are produced in facilities in McAllen and Dallas that meet these exacting standards.

U.S.-made organic personal care products are particularly desirable in global markets. “They’re viewed as being of premium quality,” says Larson, who has seen his company’s export sales rise 25 to 30 percent annually for the past three years.

Canada remains his largest international customer, but today Larson sells his products to more than 30 countries. In 2010, he completed a deal with a Chinese distributor to provide an organic bug spray, and the distributor has applied for the government import licenses needed to bring 12 other Lafe’s products to China in the coming months. The company also recently shipped its first order to a new account in Slovenia in 2010.

Larson, who uses the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Buyer Program to establish relationships with global distributors, says that Lafe’s Natural Body Care revenues from exports topped $300,000 in 2010. FN

View more information on Lafe’s Natural Body Care.

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