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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Feb. 24, 2017 4 years ago

A clean business opportunity

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A research and development project two years and at least $100,000 in the making at Naples Soap Co. is about to get a major publicity upgrade.

A research and development project two years and at least $100,000 in the making at Naples Soap Co. is about to get a major publicity upgrade.

It's called the Eczema Kit. It's a line of fragrance-free products designed to provide a head-to-foot natural solution for eczema, psoriasis and dry, itchy skin.

Naples Soap founder Deanna Renda, a former nurse who suffers from eczema and psoriasis, as does her daughter, tests all the products herself. She rejected 18 versions of the kit before finding the just-right formula of products. The kit includes a mixture of soaps, scrubs and moisturizers. “It's an extension and evolution of our top-selling sea salt soap,” Renda says.

Renda also believes the kit is an opportunity to boost sales in a way the company has never done before, through a partnership with St. Petersburg-based entrepreneur Kevin Harrington. Renda met Harrington, an original investor on the TV show “Shark Tank” and founder of As Seen on TV, at an event last year. She sent his team some samples, and later showed off the kit at an “As Seen on TV” product pitch event in Deerfield Beach.

Harrington loved the company and the Eczema Kit. Earlier this year Renda signed a deal with Harrington's company to produce a series of infomercials and marketing materials for a national sales launch.
The spots include a 30-second commercial, a 60-second commercial and Harrington's personal endorsement of the Eczema Kit. “They don't just take on anyone,” Renda tells Coffee Talk. “Their process in selecting companies is very rigorous.”

The kit, and national exposure through Harrington, is a long way from selling homemade soaps from Southwest Florida farmers markets, which is how Renda launched her company. She developed a following there, and in 2009 Renda opened a 300-square-foot store in Tin City, a waterfront tourist spot near Fifth Avenue in Naples.

Renda has since expanded conservatively, with a total of eight locations now spread from Key West to Destin. The partnership with Harrington is the company's first attempt to go national. The research phase for the kit, says Renda, cost at least $20,000 and the packaging, inventory and marketing ran another $80,000. “The potential for us is huge,” she says.

An impending challenge is the Eczema Kit's $99.95 price point, which Renda admits is “a little steep.” But with her personal experience on the struggles of fighting eczema, Renda believes the unique capabilities of the contents of the kit, all in one package, will resonate with fellow skin condition sufferers. “If it works,” says Renda, “people will continue to buy it.”

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