By: Carmen Isabel Maracara
Photos: Courtesy of Musa
Cocoa butter has extraordinary properties for the epidermis regeneration. They exceed those of other ingredients used for the same purposes. It contains antioxidants that delay skin aging as well as moisturizing and anti-wrinkle properties. In addition, it has a delicious scent which is a balm for the senses.
Although Venezuela is a land of high quality cocoa, recognised in the world, the industry is mainly linked to the production and marketing of chocolate. There has not been developed a cosmetic industry that privileges cocoa as a component, except for the traditional lipsticks.
Maria Cecilia Rodriguez, a nutritionist with a wide experience in the business and almost 13 years working for Nestlé Venezuela, being her last responsibility Cocoa Strategic Manager, wants to occupy this market niche, with a business venture through her firm Musa, launched to the market in November 2016 with a good reception.
Hitherto, the new brand, being commercialised in stores @Galanga (Chacao market and Centro commercial El Sol, Santa Paula) and on “@cacaodeorigen” at Hacienda La Trinidad, Caracas, offers a body emollient cream, which, unlike a moisturizer, penetrates the deeper skin layers and creates a protection barrier against environment agents” she says, adding that cocoa is hypoallergenic and serves all skin types, even the greasy ones. This cream, in addition to cocoa butter, contains Aloe vera and vitamin E.
For the first quarter of 2017, the company expects to launch a body scrub. Also, they are already testing a hair conditioner and a shampoo. Unlike other business ventures in the country, which start as a quasi-domestic industry, Rodríguez has taken care of all the details to guarantee high quality and permanence of the product, as well as its emollient efficacy and opportunities to enter more competitive markets in the future.
“I have learned that everything has to be done with much quality. It is preferable to take the necessary time to produce a product, but that the results are properly. People entrust their skin care to us, a subject that must be seen seriously. My creams are produced at Inversiones Casare, a laboratory owned by Luisana Arocha, who is an extraordinary pharmacist and an authority on the field. I wanted to produce something artisanal, but using the adequate ingredients (distilled water, for instance), to avoid that the product would be damaged in a short time. Likewise, I requested the designer to include a security seal to the label in order to prevent the packaging from being opened before acquiring it” Rodríguez explains.
Love for the land
For this Venezuelan entrepreneur, her passion for cocoa led her to develop this cosmetic. “I had already decided that at some point in my life, I would leave my job and start a business on my own. I thought about several options, but then, I said that it would be something related to cocoa, which I have been a passionate along the way. The first ideas came from the world of chocolate, either in bonbons or squares. However, when I went in depth into the idea, I realised that there are many people involved and doing it very well. Even though there are great people making chocolates, one can always compete making a different proposal, but I felt it was going to be just another chocolate within a very strong competition, in order to sell it really well.”
As cocoa remains in the olfactory memory of Venezuelans, Rodriguez decided for it, under the premise that “there are things that belong to us and we simply absorb them, rather than devote ourselves to their study. I think that something like this happens with cocoa: it is assimilated and therefore it generates emotion and passion and, one progressively falls in love with it, similar to what happens with a person: inasmuch as you get to know it, as much you love it”
The story of someone who got bored
There are projects created with certainty, others by chance. This new Venezuelan brand of cosmetics was born by “boredom” she says. Cecilia Isabel Rodriguez got bored in the middle of a professional meeting and after three hours of debate regarding an operational matter, at some point of the discussion she realised that she was bored because that topic was not basically of her concern. The reflection led her to the colonial times and she wondered what a wife of Venezuelan “great cacao” would do if she was in front of something so versatile, delicious and with as many properties as this seed. And voila! The idea of her project came out.
“What would I have done in the Colony, it I had been a “mantuana”, the wife of a great cacao? I imagined myself dressed as a “mantuana”, walking along the cacao plantations. Well, I would ask my husband for a bit of cocoa and I’d get some butter prepared, but it would be a homemade butter, to get me covered with it. That was the precise moment when all ideas has come together and made sense. I saw myself involved in the cosmetics from cocoa. I wondered why any of these entrepreneurs have not been interested in that business. It was just because they were men. They carry out the chocolate business, to export it or make the so-called semi-processed, make butter or powder, which are different stages of the chain. But none of them make cosmetics. Then, I said to myself: That’s my business! That’s my entrepreneurship! Thus, the boredom was over and I started to disengage myself from their discussion, imagining all the creams I could do. “
And the muse arrived!
After several months of research and experimentation with the product, as well as all the legal and accounting aspects involved in the creation of the company, only the name was missing. Although the brand would be linked to cocoa, Rodríguez did not want a common name attached to the word “chocolate” that would limit the expansion of the business in a long term.
“Everything was ready, except the name. I wanted one that made sense in any language and easy to pronounce. But nothing happened! Then one day I got up and said to myself: ‘It cannot be that in all these months the muse has deserted me! The muse… The muse… That’s the name!! It is pronounced easily in all languages. It is short and has a great meaning. It is also about inspiration and I am quite inspired by cocoa. I started to read about the Greek muses and one of the things I love the most is that they were not goddesses but demi-goddesses, they mixed more with humans and had a more earthly life, which I loved. I like their inspiration and their connection to art, that there is a muse for every artistic expression. It seemed to me that establishing a brand with that name would open infinite possibilities: from having product lines with muses’ names, to linking us with artistic activities. “
With the name issue resolved, this entrepreneur began a production cycle that today takes its first steps, with a good acceptance in the market so far. In addition to the three named marketing points and some more surely added in the near future, you can learn more about this brand in its social networks:
Instagram and twitter: @musa_teinspira