By Celia Collymore
“One of my overall goals is to be remembered as a game changer. Change the way that people think about sports, healthy lifestyles and all-round wellbeing.”
Fitness and wellness is definitely on our agenda as an entrepreneur magazine and when we had the opportunity to connect with Bajans throughout the Diaspora, it was only fitting to reach out to someone in this industry. It is our pleasure to highlight the bold and beautiful Deborah (Debbie) Spink. Debbie was born as a dual citizen – Barbadian and British. She is enthusiastic, fun, an entrepreneur, athlete and all-round sports person.
To understand a man’s purpose you must get a glimpse of his past, and we enjoyed learning about a fellow Bajan Entrepreneur who is not only creating waves but also making a difference in the lives of many, one natural product at a time.
Debbie is a former student of St. Gabriel’s Primary and St.Ursula’s Secondary. During that time she was an avid swimmer/athlete and represented Barbados for 15 years. In 1999 she left Barbados at age 18 to study in England to pursue a BA in Multi Media Textiles from Loughborough University (leading sports university). She later obtained a MA Theatre Practices (specialism- set design and construction), (Distinction) from Rose Bruford College – (marked by Manchester University). She has accomplished much and worked in a variety of jobs in field marketing and promotions, retail at the managerial level and 10 yrs set/design building and head of art department for film. She has certifications in Exercise to Music Instructor, First Aid, Hands Arm Legs and Feet Massage and is a Brand Ambassador.
Debbie’s love for fitness and design inspired her to create a product out of a personal need. “I had severe Eczema on my hands and I tried numerous products and nothing worked so I resorted to making my own. When I saw that water-free products could be made preservative free, I decided it was time to make a change and see how far I could push myself to create a brand across the new emerging trend of ‘natural products’.
It is our pleasure to introduce you to Kokomelt Ltd! Kokomelt is an Artisan Skincare company founded in 2014 and specializing in water-free, paraben-free and soap-free products (exfoliating scrubs and soothing butters). In just two years, Kokomelt received the FreeFrom Skincare Awards 2016 ‘GOLD’ Men’s Grooming!
The creative side of a business you love and enjoy is always fun, however we were also curious about the technical side of Kokomelt and what the journey so far was like for Debbie. “When I first started, I wasted some time and money because I didn’t necessarily know how to run a business. When I went to registered my trademark I had a massive clash with a big brand because I had first spelt Kokomelt differently and didn’t understand fully how trademarks worked legally. That was one of the biggest panics of my life! I thought I was going to be sued. They wrote me a legal letter however they turned out to be very nice, it was fine. It almost stopped my heart, laughing as she recounts that experience.
“It was one big learning experience and I am very, very cautious now, I check all trade names/trade marks, subtitles, no one else is using it, they have not been trading longer that me.” She literally started off her new business venture with a bang!
What was the process like developing Kokomelt?
For me it was extremely enjoyable from the design point of view. At one point I thought, Why can’t I just be a packaging designer? Why not? I love that, for me it is the fun part. I wanted something that was unisex, recyclable, I don’t want to be another brand with plastic. I want to move away from plastic and be all tin fully. I more concentrate on men’s products/unisex, I try not to make things overly scented and overly smelly so that everyone can use it and everyone can enjoy it. I needed a neutral kind of packaging and like a clean look with some texture. I want people to try it, and to know the brand and understand the product rather than focus purely on aesthetic features.
For me, food and cosmetics are more or less the same, your skin absorbs so much, so the ingredients I use are mainly food grade, you can practically eat everything, however I am not selling food because you must have a food license etc. My cocoa butter product is as chocolaty as cocoa – if you can eat it, you know you are using the best quality products, so hence I am using the best quality, so it smells rich, it’s organic, you know you are getting natural stuff. It took me a long time to find really great quality ingredients, additionally, it took a very long time to find really good suppliers. It is important to eliminate the use of having fragrances on the market. Essential oils cost more but at the end of the day they aren’t harmful to the body, so it goes with my brand, being athletic, healthy, and putting clean stuff on your skin.
Any feedback or push back from people regarding your product?
Some people have said that I sell it too cheap because I have priced my products competitively to the big brands. Which obviously for a small brand I am doing everything by hand which is quite hard for me. I am not making massive profits like they are but i refuse to put 80/90% water, petroleum, emulsifiers, some scent/fragrance and sell this in cheap plastic bottles. My process is labour intensive, but you know that people are getting what they deserve which is a clean product. I want people to be able to afford it. What other companies are doing is ripping you off and making massive profits. I am not trying to be a rip-off, I am trying to educate people and get them healthy and use something that is good.
Who’s on your team?
Currently it is just me. I have trained freelancers I work with, during busy seasons like Christmas and Valentines. I try to pre-plan, but sometimes you can’t predict the numbers so I have trained a couple of people up, who know how to make the scrubs and the creams and we will work together to make massive batches over the busy periods of time. The rest of time I make stock and now know the movements, my stock levels, whether it be with wholesalers, individuals, from the website or other online sites. The plan is to get staff and work on getting more long term wholesale orders and then it’s really going to take off.
What about those recipes? How do you protect them?
The people I have trained sign a disclaimer and they understand that they cannot reproduce the recipes. You can’t really patent a recipe. You have to be a market leader. I have managed to make it hard for people to produce as my ingredients are expensive and there is no water in my products which equals less immediate profits. They might try to,
however it’s not something that can be done cheaply. I have managed to stay in line with the market and feel that I have a good product, plus I was made aware that another large well known brand/company who bought my products to be tested.
What does success mean to you and for your business?
I aim to reach out to challenge the industry and by being a part of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, I want to help make it illegal for harmful products to exist, leaving only natural products to remain on the market. By doing this I need to successfully re-educate people on what is ‘natural’ and make products that are as appealing as the bigger brands.
What’s next for Kokomelt?
I’m looking to expand the studio and open a space that has different departments within it featuring a barber shop, therapy room, coffee/bar area and Kokomelt products. This is the expansion plan which I hope to achieve within the next year.
When will Barbados experience Kokomelt?
I would like to sell it in one of the spas at one of the hotels, where the products can be bought, but also do treatments using my products for exfoliating massages and as a scrubs.
Love making videos,
I’ve been bodybuilding for 5 yrs and have given it up now to do powerlifting and masters athletics/100m track
To learn more about Kokomelt visit: