GT Cosmetics: Business made in heaven
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - February 11, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The success of Engineer Leonora B. Salvane in the world of beauty and skin care can only be attributed to one thing—-“it is a business made in heaven.”

GTCosmetics and Manufacturing Inc., is one of the few unassuming contenders of the world’s most competitive commodity—beauty and skin care products.

For 25 years, Leonor’s products led by its beauty soap variants, which use the juice extracts of fruits and vegetable such as papaya and carrots, continue to compete head on with branded contemporaries around the world.

This success however came as no surprise, as this business which bears its “benefactor’s” name, is an outright answered prayer. GT stands for God’s Talent.

Young hopeful

Leonor, a graduate of Chemical Engineering at the University of San Carlos (USC), was just among the thousands of young hopefuls in the 70s who dreamt of landing a good job after graduation.

Leonor’s employment journey brought her to the sales department, where she was able to master the art of salesmanship—selling laboratory equipment, maintenance chemical products of a multinational company.

But, while she enjoyed meeting different kind of people on field, tasted the rewards of closing deals, Leonor started to tell herself as a young and successful engineer in sales “I should not get old and remain an employee.”

Nurturing the seed

While she was doing her job—mostly sales jobs for different companies, Leonor continued to nurture the seed she put in her heart—that one day she’ll have a business on her own and employ people.

The seed indeed grew and she one day stumbled into an opportunity which led her to start her own business using the network of connections she developed over the years being in sales.

Her employer, an American company NCH Phils., invited her to be a business partner, instead of being a mere employee.

“In 1990 my American boss told me to work hand in hand with them,” she recalled.

Immediately after, Leonor was already in business, as if the seed that she puts in her heart grew and bore fruit on its own.

Leonor’s first business was into supplying pneumatic products to industries. The earnings were good.

The market was promising, but Leonor sensed that there was something not right in the business.

She knew that if this business only thrived out of compromises, including “under-the-table” deals, she won’t mind having no business at all.

Heaven sent

Leonor started to contemplate of getting out from a compromising business in pneumatic supplies. This time, she did not only planted a seed of dream in her heart, but she offered a prayer to start-off a “clean business”. Clean, meaning operations and business dealings should be all transparent and honest.

In 1992, Leonor got the answer to her prayer through someone whom she referred to as an “angel” used by God to tell her what to do.

One day, while Leonor was busy doing her industrial sales business, a stranger came to her office and introduced her the possibility of starting a soap making venture.

Leonor said she never knew the person, she even kept forgetting to ask the late Raphael Ibarra who sent him to her office.

Raphael was then an advocate of SME (small and medium entrepreneurs) development, an NGO worker, who was passionate in mentoring start-up businesses to succeed.

Leonor described Raphael as “heaven sent”, as through his mentorship, she was able to start making her beauty soap products. which she initially distributed to friends.

Raphael did not ask anything in return, not even a single centavo. “He was just there to help.”

“That was the birth of GTCosmetics”.

Good steward

Because Leonor knew that her shift to the business of cosmetics making is not just a mere accident, but a plan made in heaven, she is indignant about being a good steward of this venture.

She asked for a “clean business”. She got it. Now, her responsibility is to be the steward of God-given business. Most of it is to provide its customers the utmost value of their money and seal of world-class quality of every product that bear’s its “heavenly” name.

From an initial capital of P500, which produced 10 pieces of beauty soap in the early 1990s, GTCosmetics now grew into a global cosmetics brand with over 300 workers.

Leonor understood that she does not own the business, but she is just a steward of the real Owner.

GT Cosmetics may be regarded as the small fish in the vast ocean, but it never cut short in spending money in advancing the talents of its people, giving them the right pay, and investing in global standard certifications such as ISO, Halal, among others.

“This is an answered prayer. I should take care of this business and quality should not be compromised over profits,” she said.

GT Empire

Now managed by the second generation of Salvanes led by Leonor and Rogelio’s pharmacist daughter Jellie Marie, GT Cosmetics continue to expand its empire, including its successful entry to the beauty and skin care authority counties like United States, Japan, Korea, among others.

In its home-ground, GT Cosmetics, which now includes an array of facial skin care products, lotion, liquid, lipsticks, bleaching soaps, among others, are available in major retail outlets around the country like SM Supermarkets, Robinsons, Watsons, Rustans Supermarkets, Mercury Drug, among others.

Its products are also being carried in online stores like Lazada, and soon Shopee.

GTCosmetics products are also made available in other marketing channels, like direct selling and networking to give opportunities for women to earn and be part of the GT empire.

Aside from its natural ingredients, the brand’s certification as Halal, ISO, and FDA ( Food and Drugs Administration) stamp of approval re-enforced the brand’s credibility in the global market—competing with the giants in the multi-billion-dollar cosmetics industry in the world.

GT Cosmetics Manufacturing Inc., employs over 300 people. Its production system is following the ASEAN Directive, an agreement on the ASEAN Harmonized Cosmetic Regulatory Scheme.

It maintains its manufacturing plant in Tayud, Liloan Cebu and a distribution facility in Bulacan.

The empire continues to branch out. This time, Leonor’s business is diversifying into education and hospitality sectors.

For Leonor, her business maybe in the category of most competitive commodities, but what makes GTCosmetics steadfast amid the constant battle of competition, is its “divine” foundation.

It’s an “answered prayer” after all. A business approved and certified by heavenly authorities.

“God owns everything, and we get to manage it for Him. The responsible management of these God-given resources is called stewardship.”

LEONORA B. SALVANE
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