Pure Success

CARA B Natural Products Inc.
Owners: Landra Booker Johnson and Kristi J. Booker
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Product: Hair and skincare products formulated
especially for ethnically diverse babies and children
Launch: July 2010
Launch Costs: $150,000 of their own funds for market research and development; formulation of products; prelaunch and launch marketing; and business logisitics
2010 Revenues: $500,000
2011 Projections: $1 million
Now: Thorough research of the industry before formulating and selling products has led to brisk online sales through website and retail store partnerships
Next: A national advertising campaign, new products, and additional retail outlets

There are plenty of products on shelves geared toward African American adult women with natural hair, but CARA B Natural Products Inc. (www.mycarab.com; 888-238-4552) has put some twists into its haircare and skincare offerings. Its CARA B Naturally brand is for African American, Latino, and multiethnic children–and made of all-natural ingredients.

As the natural self-care movement has grown, organic foods and chemical-free products have become more popular. To address the demand, Landra Booker Johnson and her sister, Kristi J. Booker, founded their company in July 2010, and made just under $500,000 in gross revenues by the end of that year.

Landra, CARA B’s CEO, attributes the company’s rapid revenue growth to market demand and their solid groundwork. Before bringing their products to market, “We were very careful when it came to researching the industry and finding formulators who specialized in working with natural products,” the 38-year-old says. “We had a business plan in place before we started operating as an official company.” Kristi, the chief marketing officer, adds, “We wanted to make sure that we educated ourselves so that we could be not only aware as businesspeople, but also as consumers.”

A lifestyle change led to the birth of the business that they launched using $150,000 of their personal savings accumulated through investments. In 2006, Landra, a former journalist, sought out chemical-free products for her toddler son’s hair and skin and found the market lacking. “I had made the transition away from toxic chemicals when it came to the food I consumed and the products I used in my home,” she says. There were all-natural general-market products available, “But they weren’t effective when it came to my child–his skin, his hair.”

CARA B Naturally is a loose acronym of the business slogan “Children Are Always Beautiful, Naturally,” and the product line strives to promote that message. Landra’s son, now 7, is involved in the business, as is her 4-year-old daughter. Their images–two drawings of the boy and one of the girl–grace the product label. “They have been the inspiration for the line. They have been the guinea pigs,” Landra laughs. “They’re good sports about it, though.”

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