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$60k loan puts SJ woman on entrepreneurial path

(KGO)
March 8, 2012 7:29:16 PM PST
International Women's Day was created to honor working women in the United States back in the 1900s and it's now something observed around the world.

In the United States, research indicates there are only 17 women CEO's among Fortune 500 companies, but that figure does not include a growing number of female entrepreneurs launching start-ups. ABC7's David Louis found one San Jose woman who's creating manufacturing jobs.

Susie Wang likes to cook, but she does a different kind of cooking. The ingredients are carrot oil, spearmint, rosewood essence, and vitamins, the building blocks for cosmetics. She runs a woman-owned enterprise committed to "100 Percent Pure" formulations. An accidental spill early in her career put her on a new path.

"When I went back to clean it up in 10 minutes, I saw that the lab table actually warped and it cracked the lab table, and I was shocked that I put 12 percent of the same chemical in an eye cream," she recalled. Seven years ago, a $60,000 loan yielded $1 million in sales. "The next year, we sold $3 million and the year after that, we sold $6 million. Then, the year after that, we sold $15 million. Now, we're at $18 million, no, $20 million this year."

Now, 100 Percent Pure has more than 40 employees at its own manufacturing plant in San Jose. They mix the natural ingredients into cream, they package the cosmetics, and they ship them worldwide. Co-founder Ric Kostick is committed to local manufacturing. "One, we're creating a lot of local jobs for the economy. I love creating jobs, but number two, owning our own manufacturing gives us innovation. It makes us more innovative, which makes us more competitive," he says. Another four employees staff a retail shop at Santana Row.

Growth has been fast and it saved valuable time by sourcing online at Alibaba.com. 100 Percent Pure wanted to use packaging made of recycled materials. The Alibaba.com site accelerated the process of finding vendors who could keep pace as cosmetic sales grew. "We save a lot of time for any entrepreneurs to start a business from anywhere. They can look for the suppliers and products with the touch of a button, communicate with them, research the industry trends," U.S. general manager Annie Xu said.

Alibaba.com has seen a 72 percent increase in women using its site over the past three years, reflecting the growth in women entrepreneurs. Once an entrepreneur, perhaps always an entrepreneur. Both Susie and Ric indicate they want to keep on the same path that they are on now even though they've had offers from companies interested in acquiring them.


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