Caribbean Entrepreneurs: Natural Cosmetic Company Sugar Town Organics
by Karen Rollins May 20, 2019
Entrepreneur Anastasha Elliot traces her first forays into business to the age of eight, when she started a range of money-making activities including baking, crocheting, designing clothes and tie-dying t-shirts.
Now, the 36-year-old Kittitian is the Chief Executive Officer at a health and wellness company she founded with her mother called Sugar Town Organics.
Anastasha explains how Sugar Town Organics got started: “My mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer and that forced us to look at our environment, our food sources, what and how we ate, how we were living. The emotional and mental aspects and the products we used on our skin and hair.
“She refused chemotherapy and drugs, opting instead for a holistic lifestyle. She made some radical changes to our lives, and four months later, she was cancer-free.”
Two organic brands under one company
Anastasha and her mum didn’t know it at the time, but that experience had set them on a path toward starting two successful brands, both under the Sugar Town Organics umbrella called Yaphene and Flauriel.
Yaphene is a Hebrew word which means to shine beautifully and is a natural cosmetics line utilising actives found in, and indigenous to, the Caribbean.
Flauriel, a “mashup” of Anastasha’s grandparents’ and great grandparents’ names, produces Caribbean-flavoured gourmet sauces, liqueurs, wines, Caribbean treats, blended herbal tea and jams.
Anastasha says: “Both brands focus heavily on health, and on food, backed by science. I looked at how in the Caribbean, we use food to maintain our health, beauty and families and to heal from disease. Our brands are therefore very food-centric, and very Caribbean, with cultural influences that both affected the Caribbean and play a role in the geographical origin of my family.
“My granddad and his parents were not born in the Caribbean you see. It’s a social form of cultural regeneration, this educational aspect that we have also taken on.”
The Yaphene and Flauriel brands pay tribute to the Caribbean, not only through the materials used, but also by how they are sourced.
Anastasha and her mum work with 11 farmers in St. Kitts and source raw materials, including fresh and dried foods, from Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad.
Currently available at eight locations across St. Kitts and Nevis, the mother-daughter team are focused on increasing Sugar Town’s retail presence on the island and exporting through the Caribbean. They also want to empower Kittitians to live healthier lives and create their own holistic recipes.
Plans to export and expand
Anastasha says: “In another five years we’d love to have our own outlet in town with a cosmetic lab where persons can come in and participate in classes, because we’d like to be able to teach others to do basic things for themselves while getting a little creative, and create more of an empowerment aspect to the brand.”
They are also currently focused on increasing exports.
Anastasha shares: “We did small-scale exporting for a while. We had customers around the world who would order, and we’d ship out to them, but since participating in WE-Xport, we have been able to take the brand across the Atlantic to countries in Europe. And those exploits have gotten us quite a bit of exposure.”
The Women Empowered through Export (WE-Xport) programme was designed by the Caribbean Export Development Agency to assist Caribbean women in business to start exporting or increase the exports of their products and services.
With encouragement from the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis and the WE-Xport programme, Anastasha will be promoting her lines at BMEX in June in Barbados and the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) in Trinidad from 16-25 August 2019.
The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has further thrown its support behind the local brand by enabling it to be featured at its first major trade shows in Paris and Dubai next summer.
Anastasha has this advice for other young women who dream of embarking on their own business venture: “Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to not get it right.”
She adds: “Surround yourself with like-minded people, who will support what you are trying to achieve, who will push you, challenge you and who are willing to help. And always be willing to ask for help, because the only real way to fail is not to try.”
Come along in June 2019 to the WE-Xport booth at BMEX in Barbados to see a range of products from Sugar Town Organics.