Potions & Lotions: Producing Personal Care Products

This week, the Maker’s Row team ventured out to Body Dimensions, a manufacturer of personal care products in the Bronx. We encountered a sweep of activity and moving parts upon setting foot in the factory. Mammoth machines were bottling and labeling finished products. Workers in hairnets were removing and inspecting products off the assembly line.

Justin, one of the managers, showed us around their bustling, one-room space. We first met him in their administrative office, where he coordinates with clients by phone and email all day long.

AT A GLANCE

What they make: Personal care products (including filling and bottling)
Ideal customer: Someone with a concept for a personal care product and excited to work with all-natural ingredients – beginners welcome.
Fun fact: Justin recently became an uncle!
Location: The Bronx (moving soon to Mount Vernon, NY)
Factory profile link: https://makersrow.com/body-dimensions-industries

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MR: Can you tell us about what you do?

BD: We manufacture a range of small personal care products for all types of brands, including beginners and larger established brands. We have full production capabilities, all the way to the end product for the user, but we don’t do distribution. We do two things particularly well: 1. surfactants (soaps, disinfectants), and 2. filling product into almost any type of packaging.

MR: Awesome! What are some examples of products you make?

BD: Our products are all-natural, and they include facial cleansers, pain relief products, shampoos, conditioners, and even movie make-up! Here’s a bottle of tea tree castile soap.

MR: I bet you have some interesting clients.

BD: About half the people have a formula they’ve come up with and want help putting everything together – they’re usually very keen on manufacturing locally rather than in China. The other half come in with only an idea, and we help them develop a formula for production.

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MR: What’s your role in the company?

BD: I work very closely with those beginner brands, “nursing them up to speed.” What I love most is working with clients who are trying to help people with their products. We have a client who’s producing a colorant for people with Vitiligo skin discoloration (the condition that affected Michael Jackson). We’re also doing assembly and packaging for a natural hemorrhoid cream.

Really speaking, I also do a little bit of everything. I’m currently in the middle of mixing a batch of lotion that eases lymphedema. Even though I don’t have a chemical engineering background, I’ve been doing this stuff since I was 14 years old, hanging around the factory.

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MR: Speaking of which, can you tell us a bit about the history of the factory?

BD: It’s a family enterprise started by my dad Herman in 1997. My dad hailed from Jamaica and is trained as an engineer in personal care production and packaging. He previously worked at Colgate, San-Mar Laboratories, and Coca-Cola before venturing out on his own. My sister (who just had a baby) and I are here all day, and our mom does some of the accounting work. Some of our cousins drop in to work as well.

We’re the only personal care guys left in New York. There’s a perfumery that’s down the street. We’ve traditionally done sales and marketing through word of mouth but have recently begun exploring new outlet like trade shows and Maker’s Row. My sister’s the marketing creative.

MR: We love hearing about factories run over multiple generations. Are there any core philosophies that the company runs on?

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BD: It’s a competitive industry, so our dad pushes us to do everything possible to ensure timeliness and high quality for the consumer. We keep very streamlined operations and try to innovate as much as possible.

MR: How about a quick overview of the space?

BD: There’s a makeshift lab for creating the product formulas. We have two chemists on staff who develop the formulas. There’s a compounding area with mixing tanks where we make large batches that are filled later. No photos allowed here because the pipework is proprietary! There’s a machine that doses each bottle with nitrogen – because products are all-natural, they normally eat away at the packaging. The dose of nitrogen helps the bottles stay inflated on the shelf. Here – feel one! We have other machines for filling the formula into bottles, which we outfit based on the product’s needs.

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MR: Is there anything you can share with us about future plans?

BD: To meet demand, we’re moving to factory a Mount Vernon with three times the current lab space and many more machines. We’re looking to get FDA- and organic-certified there. This will help clients who are looking to get their products onto the shelf at Whole Foods.

MR: Thanks so much Justin! We are excited to tell your story to our readers!

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