Oryspa's kiosk at SM Megamall. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA - Rice bran, a by-product of rice milling more popularly known as "darak," is an ingredient not often associated with beauty and personal care products.
But a Laguna native has found a way to infuse rice bran oil's vitamins, nutrients and antioxdiants into shampoos, soaps, lotions, body scrubs and pain relief products under the Oryspa brand.
"Rice bran, which is the flagship of Oryspa, is rich in Vitamin E and A. Vitamin A is for skin renewal... Rice bran also has oryzanol, a nutrient that is an anti-oxidant, it's anti-aging," Oryspa founder Sherill Quintana told ABS-CBNnews.com in an interview.
Thanks to word-of-mouth, Oryspa's products, which contain rice bran oil, such as the meditation balm, chili oil, relaxing foot mist and body scrubs are selling well at malls.
"Oryspa was coined because of 'oryza sativa', the scientific name of rice, and it's for the spa. Kasi we were supplying to spa before... My idea is like 'food for the soul,' 'rice for the spa' kaya Oryspa," she explained.
PASSION FOR AROMATHERAPY
Oryspa was launched in 2010, but it is backed by a decade of experience and research.
Quintana never thought she would become an entrepreneur. A sociology graduate from UP, she worked in community development and projects with US Agency for International Development (USAID) and World Wife Fund for Nature (WWF).
Her passion was aromatherapy. "I studied essential oils and their uses. Mga candles, alam ko anong purpose to evoke certain emotions... May pagka-witch ako, gusto ko nagcoconcoct ng solutions," she joked.
Sherill Quintana talks to ABS-CBNnews.com about how she started Oryspa. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com
In 2000, she became pregnant with her first child. "Nagkaroon ako ng problem with the pregnancy so I had to stay home and not work... So nabigyan ko ng focus ang aromatherapy passion ko... Export orders started. That was the start of it, we became wholesale, export, toll manufacturing business," she said.
She started Kutitap Aromatherapy Crafts, which manufactured and supplied spa essentials for various clients abroad.
After she gave birth, Quintana decided to continue the business. There were several challenges along the way, like when their foreign customers started shifting orders to China where costs were cheaper, and the global financial crisis.
"Talagang parang we had to close shop na, kasi walang export orders. Wala kaming local business... So I made some efforts to set up a local store sa mall. So lahat ng extra export orders, doon i-shoot. Pero parang chop suey, walang concept," she related.
Kutitap also started supplying local spas with products using imported essential oils. In 2007, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) invited the company to join the California gift show but Quintana decided not to participate since their products used mostly imported ingredients.
"Eh ang product na i-showcase namin eh galing din sa kanila. Imported, ginagawa dito tapos binalik din. Parang mali. It didn't make sense," she said.
Quintana and her husband, who is an agriculturist, decided to do some research on what local ingredients they can use in their products.
"At that time, I was sitting as president of the tourism council in Laguna sa Los Banos. We were promoting rice research, then I thought baka may something sa rice... I asked my husband if we can get something from rice. He said yes, let's look into it... That's when Oryspa came out in 2008. Pero nailabas, 2010 pa, kasi [it takes] more than two years of getting patents," she said.
Oryspa initially came up with a handful of rice bran oil-infused products - meditation balm, solid perfume, massage oil, chili oil and soap, which were all-natural and paraben-free.
Her first customers were cancer survivors. "They were looking for alternative shampoos, conditioners, soaps na walang chemicals. Dinadayo pa nila kami sa Laguna. Word of mouth lang," she said.
Some of Oryspa's bestsellers - chili oil, meditation balm and curry balm. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com
One of Oryspa's customers worked for SM and urged Quintana to apply for a kiosk at SM Calamba, which was opening in November 2010. SM's leasing department gave Oryspa "national approval," which meant it can open in any SM store in the country.
Quintana initially had some reservations opening a retail store for Oryspa, thinking of the risks involved. "Pero sabi sa SM leasing, 'kunin niyo na kasi bihira kami magbigay ng national approval sa mga bagong brands. And kalaban mo, mga foreign brands.... Sabi pa daw nila sa management na this brand has a potential to grow," she said.
Oryspa's first stall in SM Calamba proved to be a success. "After six months, we hit ROI (return on investment). Nabawi na agad namin ang investments namin," she said.
Customers loved the products, and some were already inquiring about franchising the brand. Quintana decided to work with Francorp to develop the franchise.
From one brand in 2010, Oryspa now has 15 stores, including 2 in Cebu and 1 in Singapore.
"We opened in Singapore last year... Ang first namin clients is Pinoy pero now, marami na SIngaporeans. We tied up mga bloggers doon, locals to raise awareness," she said.
'PROUDLY MADE IN LAGUNA'
Since many customers think Oryspa is a "spa", the company has decided to start offering "spa parties" at its building in Calamba, Laguna. Oryspa Experience will provide pampering services using their products, although it is only by appointment.
"We will have a 'spa party place' for groups of friends. Calamba kasi is resort capital... Usually naglulublob lang sa pool at kainan. I said, why don't we offer something else na we can get people, 6-8 people, offer pampering for them. We are targeting opening by August," she said.
Right now, Quintana is busy attending trade fairs abroad to get exposure for Oryspa products. Her goal is to have her products sold in other Asian countries, including Japan.
But she believes that it is important to keep the brand proudly Pinoy. When you take a closer look at Oryspa's products, you'll notice the label states: "Proudly Made in Laguna, Philippines."
"When I do trade shows abroad, they ask me where on earth is Laguna," Quintana laughed. "Oryspa is not just a wellness product. We also want to make our rituals, our cultural dimensions as Filipinos known."
With ASEAN integration looming, she believes Oryspa will stand a good chance of competing with other Asian brands.
"Napansin ko if your product, gusto mo makilala as Filipino brand, you have bigger chances of surviving with Asean integration," she said.