“Essential oils have a lot to do with our sense of smell and how the sense of smell impacts our mood and to an extent our attitude,” says Tanya Powell-Edwards, Founder of Tanyas Body Care. Jamaica, with her wide array of flora and herbs like ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, orange, pimento, is well poised to capitalise on the global demand for essential oils valued at USD $18.6 billion (2020). In this edition of Entrepreneur Weekly, we take a deep dive into essential oils.
Essential oils are extracted from plants through distillation or mechanical processes. The oils retain the plant’s scent and flavour, or “essence.” The unique aromatic compounds give each essential oil its distinctive essence. Hence the name, essential oils. Essential oils are most commonly used in the practice of aromatherapy, in which they are inhaled through various methods. Aromatherapy, according to Healthline, “is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Sometimes it’s called essential oil therapy.”
An essential oil is a high value product. In fact, there is a strong linkage between the essential oils industry and the agriculture industry. How have Jamaicans tapped into the essential oils market and turned ‘bush’ into business?
Taynas Body Care
Tanya Powell-Edwards is among Jamaican entrepreneurs who have been capitalising on the essential oils market. Taynas Body Care has a line of essential oils products including the Ginger with Lemongrass Massage Oil to deal with stress, lymphatic drainage and other related issues; the Jamaican Coconut Mix with Lavender Body and Massage Oil, infused with calming lavender essential oils; ‘Leff Me’ Natural Insect Repellent, charged with lemongrass and neem oil known as natural insect repellents; the Whipped Peppermint Body Soap, with peppermint essential oil that leaves the skin feeling soft and silky; and the Orange Ginger Jamaican All Natural Body and Massage Oil, made with Virgin Coconut Oil, Grapeseed Oil, and Red raspberry oil to make your skin glow.
However, Tanya says that she has been using essential oils even before her business was launched in 2016. “Using essential oils was a hobby for me once I discovered them. They reminded me of so many things. There are some traditional scents that I love – vanilla, orange, grapefruit, rosemary. I discovered essential oils and realised that they are a very potent form of the tree and the smell of the oils are real,” she said.
Taynas Body Care started when Tanya was concerned about the underarm stains on her shirts caused by the deodorants and dared to do something about it. Her research on the problem suggested that the aluminum in the antiperspirant was interacting with her sweat causing a chemical reaction and resulting in the stain. Concerns grew after she discovered that aluminum is found in the breast tissue of women with breast cancer. In her kitchen, she made her first product, the underarm cream. From a Kitchen experiment to a booming skin care business. That is the story of Taynas Body Care.
“You have a Business on your Hand”
She gifted her underarm cream to her friends who loved it so much they wanted to spend money on it. With just experience in media, Tanya knew she needed to learn a lot more before venturing into business. “When it got to the point where people wanted to buy my product, I got uncomfortable. It worked for me but I was not sure it would work for them, so I went to the Scientific Research Council and learnt soap making,” she said.
Still afraid of what lies ahead, she came to the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), to turn her new skill into business. “I think a lot of fear spurred my introduction to JBDC, because I became an entrepreneur without really looking for a business. When I came to JBDC, they told me the opposite of what I was looking for. They said, “You have a business on your hands” …and so this is where I came to gain my confidence. My JBDC experience was a very important one for me. JBDC is where I gained my confidence. I now know that I had something that Jamaicans want,” she said.
Taynas Body Care is now in demand both locally and internationally after just 5 years in operation. With several locations across Jamaica, she stocks over 40 products including her underarm cream, bar soaps, body washes, body oils, and lotions all infused with a wide range of essential oils including, but not limited to the neem oil, peppermint oil, and coconut oil.
The Government of Jamaica is focused on developing the value chain in agriculture through several initiatives, including increasing the production of herbs, plants and other crops which can contribute to high value products. As such, the JBDC has identified the production of essential oils as an opportunity in this value chain.
There is high demand for essential oils on the global market, estimated by the International Trade Centre (ITC) at $311 million US Dollars. Tanya is ensuring she takes her share. She currently fills orders in USA and Canada. Her products though, have reached countries like Zimbabwe and Ireland through Jamaicans giving these as gifts to friends and relatives.
The Essential Oils Incubator
Tanya is encouraging Jamaicans to make a move on essential oils, “I believe that we should be compressing more essential oils in Jamaica. We are told that our soil type makes our plants more potent and we should be doing Ginger essential oils here, we should be doing Rosemary, we should be doing Mint, Orange oil. We should be tapping into those things that are nostalgic to Jamaicans and be able to ship them across the world.”
With of 2400 square feet of space, the Essential Oils Incubator is a one-of-a-kind high-tech facility, with the purpose of providing a shared space for clients to extract their own essential oils. David Harrison, Director of JBDC’s Incubator & Resource Centre (IRC), says “The facility is equipped to extract oils from plant materials through 3 technologies: mechanical press, steam distillation and hydro-distillation. Essential oils are typically extracted using the steam distillation and the hydro-distillation and that can be from any plant materials that have oils with essence. It can be used in perfumes, food flavourings, aromatherapy, and cosmeceuticals.”&
The Entrepreneur Weekly since the beginning of June has been exploring ways you can tap into the craft, fashion and agricultural industries and develop your business through JBDC’s incubator spaces. Start your entrepreneurial journey today. Visit www.jbdc.net for more information on business consultation and how to book the Essential Oils Incubator.