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FOLLOW YOUR HEART

A

fter 20 years in the corporate world, Michelle Yap found the courage to start her own business. Driven by her love affair with goats’ milk, a miraculous ingredient which makes her ‘Ital Blends’ skin care products unique, the Owner & CEO credits her family and friends for the success of her business venture. From her factory in St. Andrew’s Irish Town, this inspiring lady continues to create pure products that have become the talk of the island.

The idea of Ital Blends was born when Michelle Yap was introduced to the natural wonders and health benefits of goats’ milk by herbalist Joseph White. This lucky concurrence grew into a real love affair. Soon, Michelle and her husband David McKay started intense research and began to produce gifts for friends and family. Says Michelle: “They were our hardest critics and I think this is the reason why the line became such a success. We had to experiment a lot.” The positive feedback gave Michelle the courage to trade in a secure monthly paycheck, follow her heart and open her own business.

To gain more formal knowledge about soap making, Michelle joined several U.S. groups and asked lots of questions. She delved into several online recipes, which started her journey to become a seasoned producer of beauty products. Recalls the entrepreneur: “Serious about getting into business, I bought my supplies, tried some recipes and did not even spoil one batch. That is when I realized that I really have a knack for this!” And ‘voilà!’, shortly thereafter, Ital Blends’ product range had expanded to nine decadent soaps. According to Michelle, the production of lotions and other products came very easily after that. Michelle Yap, founder and CEO of Ital Blends has found her calling (Photo: contributed by Ital Blends)

This appealing gift basket includes an array of favorite Ital Blends products (Photo: Susan Lee Quee, property of Ital Blends © 2008)

Friends and family began to spread the word and ‘word of mouth’ became one of Michelle’s major marketing vehicles. Recalls Michelle: “Suddenly, I received requests for soaps. The orders increased and I was even able to make back what I had spent on research.”

Michelle credits the early support of her family and friends for her success. The official 2007 opening of Ital Blends coincided with the completion of the family’s new dream home in Irish Town, which houses her 500 sqft factory in the basement. From the family home in the cool hills of St. Andrew, the spectacular views provide loads of inspiration for Ital Blends’ natural creations. Enthuses Michelle: “We look out the window and see a paradise, pine trees, hills and valleys, and every single day I thank god for this little piece of earth.”

comes highly recommended for extremely sensitive skin types and features a variety of handcrafted soaps, body shampoos, lotions and bath salts. To fill your life with energy, try the ‘Lively Up Yu’self’ line, crafted with a handpicked selection of ingredients to help jump-start your day and for the ultimate in relaxation, the sensual, exotic scent of ‘Cease & Settle’ is guaranteed to give you a good night’s sleep with sweet dreams.

Ital Blends also offers the ‘BeeniBit’ series, a little slice of heaven with hotel and spa products, travel kits, wedding favors and gift baskets. An extensive line of bath salts, incense and accessories such as loofahs, bamboo & calabash soap dishes are also available.

Working from home together with her family, the business got off its feet with the help of Michelle’s mother, aunt and uncle who have since retired. Today, Ital Blends counts two lovely young ladies as its staff and Michelle’s 16 years old son steps in when extra hands are needed.

Ital Blends’ skin care creations all bear Jamaican names. Its ‘Pure Niceness’ range, which means all things good,

Named for the Rastafari word ‘Ital’, which derives from the English word vital and refers to pure, natural products from the earth, Ital Blends makes natural soaps with goats’ milk, aloe vera, essential oils, herbs and shea butter. Filled with vitamins A, B1, B6, B12, C and E, zinc, several other minerals, citric and amino acids as well as a diversity of other nutrients to rejuvenate the skin, goats’ milk is the key ingredient in the majority of Ital Blends’ products. Says the business owner; “The skin is your largest organ. Respect it, cherish it and nurture it!”

Michelle’s insider tip is her Sunny Citrus body polish, which she describes as absolutely divine. Says one satisfied customer from Barbados who had tried it first hand: “I bought the Sunny Citrus Body Polish and used it the same night. It left my skin feeling smooth, moisturized and extremely soft. That polish definitely gave my skin a glow.”

In Montego Bay at Things Jamaican (tel: 979-1929) and Backra Buys at the Sangster’s International Airport and the Half Moon Gift Shop, Half Moon Hotel.

In Negril at the Swept Away Gift Shop and at the Sans Souci Gift Shop in Ocho Rios. In Port Antonio at the Errol Flynn Marina (tel: 715-5247-8).

In Kingston at Things Jamaican at Devon House, 26 Hope Road (tel: 926-1961) and 14 Camp Road (tel: 928-5161), Health & Nutrition, Sovereign Centre (tel: 978-3529), Best Regards, Shop 41, Sovereign Centre (tel: 978-3502), Isabelle’s Spa, Shop # 3b, The Orchid Village, 20 Barbican Road (tel: 970-0025), Shakti Mind Body Fitness, 5 Bedford Park Avenue (tel: 906-8403) and Brandish, Norman Manley International Airport (tel: 924-8744).

Check out Ital Blends’ website at www.italblends.com or e-mail info@italblends.com. Tel: 1-876-654-6310 or 944-8000.

Made in Jamaica, the BeeniBit Body Oil, a small piece of heaven for hotel guests (Photo: Gina Rey Forrest)

ITAL BLENDS PRODUCTS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS:

The magnificent view from the family’s home in Irish Town St. Andrew (Photo: Michelle Yap-McKay)

JAMAICA TOURIST 44

From the ‘Lively Up Yu’self’ Series, the all natural hand crafted Sunny Citrus soap and body lotion (Photo: Susan Lee Quee, property of Ital Blends © 2008)

Blue Mountain Moment, Sweet Dreams and Herbs in Harmony, all 100% Goats’ Milk Soap (Photo: Susan Lee Quee, property of Ital Blends © 2008)

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