Founders Psyche and Vontoba Terry have set their clean-beauty brand’s sights on national and international expansion — as well as doing good around the globe.
When Psyche Terry was in grad school in Las Vegas, she suffered from dry skin and couldn’t find any products to relieve it. At the same time, she needed to put together a business plan for a competition to satisfy one of her course requirements. She suggested to her husband, Vontoba Terry, that they start a skin care company.
The couple got to work, with Psyche creating the brand and developing the vision for the company and Vontoba handling the marketing. They didn’t win the competition — in fact, the judge said it was a terrible idea — but the couple persevered. “We were stubborn,” Vontoba says.
Psyche was a Blind Center of Nevada board member and enlisted the nonprofit’s services to make body butters for the couple’s newly launched enterprise. But it wasn’t long before Urban Hydration
needed greater capacity and found a third-party manufacturer in China to do the work. In 2014, the company started making sugar scrub products out of its own factory in Texas, though it has since outsourced the process. It also expanded its manufacturing to Canada and Florida.
Urban Hydration strives to ensure it has the cleanest formulations possible for the price it offers its products for. The average price point for Urban Hydration products is $9.95 — a level the Terrys have fought to keep despite inflation.
The company also is certified Target Clean and Ulta Clean, meaning the products are formulated without parabens, phthalates, and other toxic ingredients.
“We focus on ensuring we have the cleanest formulations possible for the price point we’re trying to hit,” Vontoba says. “Target, Walmart, and CVS are looking at what we put in our products. We’ll up our formulas if we need to.”
Urban Hydration is committed to supporting important social causes as well. In 2016, the company partnered with WATERisLIFE to donate a gallon of water for each product sold to a community without easy access to clean drinking water. The company has since raised enough funds to contribute to building two clean drinking water wells in Kenya. It has also expanded the program to Puerto Rico and Haiti.
Challenges: Not having access to capital to support its growth and supply chain issues have been a big challenge for Urban Hydration.
“Getting our products from point A to point B is more difficult,” Vontoba says. “Rate increases and labor shortages all cause problems for us. Our retail partners are demanding — they want products on time and in full. We’re meeting their expectations now, but we have to hold extra inventory to keep a cushion.”
Opportunities: While Walmart, Target, and Ulta all carry Urban Hydration products, the personal care line is not in every one of the retailers’ stores — a goal the Terrys are striving to reach.
“We have the opportunity to expand with the retailers we work with,” Vontoba says. “For some of the retailers, we’re only in 70 stores, and they have 3,000 more.”
Vontoba also sees opportunities for international expansion for Urban Hydration. Although the company already ships to more than 30 countries, its products are not yet available in brick-and-mortar retail stores there.
“Urban Hydration is one of the fastest-growing facial-care brands in mass retail,” Vontoba says. “It’s natural, affordable, and it works.”
Needs: Vontoba says boosting awareness of the Urban Hydration brand will be the key to the company’s success going forward. A few years ago, he estimates one out of 10 people had heard of Urban Hydration, a number that has increased to four out of 10. His goal is to get that number to eight or nine out of 10 people who have heard of the brand.
“In mass retail, there are over 1,000 brands across natural, drug, and beauty supplies,” he explains. “There’s a lot of noise in the market, and you can’t follow all of them on Instagram.”