Jacquelyn Quattro relies on manufacturers to help her create nontoxic skin care products and cosmetics for families.
“I want to make a difference in the choices that consumers have,” Quattro said.
Quattro, founder and president of Jersey Shore Cosmetics in Marlboro, said she has found that difficult to do within her home state.
“My first choice would be New Jersey manufacturers, because I want to keep the jobs and the industry here,” she said. “But I do have to go outside the state for some custom formulas that are more expensive to make here.”
Due to higher costs and minimum orders in New Jersey, Quattro said, she has had to take parts of her business to Michigan, Colorado and Ohio.
That’s a shame, considering that Jersey Shore Cosmetics is an environmentally and socially conscientious company with more than $1 million in revenue.
Its business is also growing 60 to 70 percent year over year.
Those are steady numbers the state’s manufacturing industry cannot afford to lose.
Quattro had previously worked as a beauty and skin care consultant and brand representative for nearly 25 years.
“There is not a lot of regulation with regards to skin care and cosmetics,” she said. “The consumer simply has to take a company at its word, and a lot of cosmetics were packed with petrochemicals, artificial colors and fragrances. They weren’t quality ingredients, but they were expensive.”
When Quattro set out to make products that were more natural and organic, she suffered from sticker shock.
“Manufacturers wanted over $1,000 just to make samples of my custom formulas,” she said. “I also came across formulators who refused to work with me even though they also appeared to be small.”
Quattro kept doing her research and, in 2010, when costs began to drop considerably, she found formulators that would agree to manufacture a few hundred pieces at a time.
“I literally sold everything that I owned of value to get the seed money to start my business,” she said. “I was happy to pay a few hundred dollars for a sample to see if it could work. It was refreshing compared to what manufacturers required of me years prior.”
Women and manufacturing
Jacquelyn Quattro, founder and president of Jersey Shore Cosmetics in Marlboro, said she has met with resistance from manufacturers as a “strong female who is very precise in communicating what she wants.”
“I am often challenged as a woman-owned business by the lack of respect and trust from male-dominated suppliers, manufacturers and lenders,” she said. “I’d had manufacturers ‘lose’ my property or simply do poor quality manufacturing. When someone messes something up, that is money. If they don’t take responsibility, that is a loss.”
Though the manufacturers she works with now treat her kindly and generously, Quattro said, she is no longer afraid to speak her mind.
“I was timid most of my life, but I worked hard for my company and I got to the point where I said, ‘No, I worked too hard for this. I can’t let you do this to me.’
“Women need to have the confidence to push back.”
Jersey Shore Cosmetics products have been sold since 2013.
“When the money came back, every nickel I made, I put back into the company,” Quattro said.
Quattro said her success is entirely in the transparency and quality of her products.
Quattro works with chemicals and herbalists on organic, non-GMO product formulations that use essential oils, natural fragrances, plants and botanicals instead of petrochemicals, parabens, sulfates and artificial colors.
She then works with small formulators and manufacturers — two of which are in Branchburg and Northvale — to create the formulas in a controlled facility.
“I oversee all of the formulas to make sure that they are truly 100 percent nontoxic and natural,” she said. “Consumers are a lot more educated today. They will do their research.”
So far, people love the multitude of products Jersey Shore Cosmetics offers, Quattro said.
For example, the Jersey Kids Sunscreen Stick — with ingredients such as non-nano Zinc Oxide, artesian spring water, certified organic extra virgin olive and jojoba oils, and orange blossom — was voted Best All Purpose 2016 by Livestrong.com.
Other products in its Kids, Cosmetics, Sun and Spa categories include alcohol-free hand cleanser and bug spray, eye shadows and lip balms, natural dietary supplements and moisturizers.
Quattro said the name of her brand has not limited sales in the slightest.
“The brand name ‘Jersey Shore’ has some drawbacks because that name gets associated with the … television show. I got flak for that,” she said. “But then I said, no, you know what, that does not represent my New Jersey.
“I grew up on 100 acres in Tabernacle surrounded by farms, the Pinelands and beaches. We have fields, cranberry bogs, hundreds of acres of corn and tomatoes — I want to keep the name and do something really good with it by associating it with my upbringing and my all-natural and organic brand.”
Quattro wishes she could do the same for more New Jersey manufacturers.
“New Jersey manufacturers typically require huge quantities, with minimum runs of 10,000 or so,” she said. “When you’re a small company just starting out, you don’t know if you are going to sell all of that. You have to test the market first.”
Quattro has found ways to work with her manufacturers in Branchburg and Northvale — even though, she said, it’s not common.
“Our manufacturer in Branchburg, for example, typically works with huge companies and international exporters,” she said. “They don’t usually work with small companies, but they allow me to do small runs, a few hundred at a time.
“The other in Northvale will hold a note on me. They’re not necessarily less expensive, but they will allow me to pay them when someone pays me.”
Being in close proximity to manufacturers is not only more convenient, but also better for business, Quattro said.
“When I’m working with a manufacturer in another state, I can’t always fly out there, so I have to get my samples through the mail,” she said. “Sometimes, I have to go back and forth with research and development 12 to 14 times before they make it exactly the way I want it. I’m very precise and particular and try to be very clear, but if it’s not exactly right, it just won’t do.
In her first year in business, Jacquelyn Quattro got a purchase order for 100,000 pieces.
“That money had to come from somewhere,” she said.
She borrowed from family. When the invoice was paid, she paid her debts.
Then she was contacted by Kickfurther, a crowdfunding website for established companies.
“I didn’t really need them at the time, because I was doing OK borrowing from family, but they gave me a competitive rate,” Quattro said. “They funded my first loan in under an hour.”
Kickfurther raised over $6,000 in seven minutes with a return of 4 percent for Jersey Shore Cosmetics’ Jersey Kids product line, including all-natural sunscreen and bug spray safe for infants.
“Of course I went back to them again,” Quattro said.
Her second offer on Kickfurther raised nearly $52,000 in one day, with a return of 13 percent, for a 200,000 purchase order of all-natural moisture rich hydrating lip balms for IPSY.
“I had already built my reputation,” Quattro said. “This just proved it.”
“A product can get way behind that way.”
Jersey Shore Cosmetics is quickly ramping up as it continues to make strategic partnerships.
For example, Quattro worked to get her products into IPSY, the largest subscription glam bag.
“This got us into the hands of over 3 million monthly subscribers who give us amazing feedback and reviews,” she said.
She has also partnered with online distributors such as etailz Inc. and Avalanche Industries to sell her products on sites such as Amazon.com, Sears.com and Walmart.com.
But people still want to be able to find her Jersey Shore Cosmetics products in stores.
“We were in the Whole Foods Market in Princeton,” Quattro said. “At the end of this year, we plan to go back out and try to get the whole chain.”
That’s going to take a lot more manpower than the current five family members she has working for her now.
“We’re at a point now that we are bigger than we are able to manage,” Quattro said. “I’ve hired independent contractors to manage social media and graphic design and I plan to hire a team to help with distributing and getting more brick and mortar accounts.”
That will not stop Quattro from working so many hours.
“When you are an entrepreneur, you just want to do everything, because you want every element to be your way,” she said. “I want to handle everything but I have to learn to trust and let other people in on it.”
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