By Victoria T. Davis
Photos by Mikala Lomax
Whiten your teeth, lighten age spots, moisturize your skin, condition your hair, strengthen your immune system, reduce gum bleeding and inflammation — the list of ways to use cold-pressed coconut oil goes on.
Skinny & Co., with its roots in a small Indianapolis neighborhood called Broad Ripple, claims to sell the only 100 percent raw, alkaline coconut oil in the world. Using the “Nutralock” system, an exclusive extraction process that uses a cooling process (rather than heat) to release coconut oil, Skinny & Co. harvests its coconut oil directly from the jungles of Vietnam. The oil contains no chemicals, solvents or fillers.
The Indiana Minority Business Magazine (IMBM) sat down with Matt Geddie, president of Skinny & Co., to learn more about the increase in popularity of the brand and what day-to-day business operations are like.
IMBM: I know you and your brother Luke created the idea of Skinny & Co. while traveling in Vietnam, but what was the process like?
Geddie: We grew up very health-minded, and as a child I suffered from a terminal illness, and it was fresh fruits and vegetables that turned my health around. My mother (Joy Reese), our vice president, is a holistic doctor. While my brother Luke and I were traveling to Vietnam, we met our business partner Kim Vo. We all started talking about creating an import/export business and began sourcing raw ingredients, and during that process we found the consumer was only receiving 1/100th of the nutritional value because of the food manufacturing system. It’s hard to make food that’s healthful inexpensive. We knew there was a better way to manufacture food to retain value. We started with coconut oil, because there are a million and one uses for it. We do a lot of education with that as well.
Luke, who lives in Vietnam full-time now, met a Vietnam refugee who built the technology to make coconut oil. When we met him, he was still trying to figure things out and hadn’t refined it yet. Phase two was finding the highest quality increments possible and bringing them directly into our market to cut costs for the consumer. Skinny and the technology we use kind of fell into our lap after we all sat down and partnered. We launched Skinny two years ago in September.
The name Skinny & Co. is very ironic considering your line of products. How did the name emerge?
My mother and brother came up with the name by asking, “What does it do for you?” They said it makes you healthy and fit. The Skinny jar stands out (amongst other brands). It’s an oxymoron since coconut oil is a fat, it’s skinny fat and if you’re walking down an aisle, it’s attention grabbing. Although people may pick it up thinking it may help them lose weight, it’s going to give you more of the halo effects of the oil.
I understand the company recently celebrated its two-year anniversary, congratulations! I also know your brand continues to grow in popularity each day, especially with celebrities such as Kristin Bauer from “True Blood” and Sergio Brown, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts. What are sales like?
We’ve grown 100 percent every year, so it’s been crazy. This year we should do about $800,000 in sales, and we’re growing pretty quickly. We’re now trying to grow more strategically. Get out into the Midwest and really build the brand of Skinny here.
As you are in high demand, what are some of the biggest challenges the company has faced?
One of our biggest issues is logistics. We’ve had to become logistics experts pretty quickly, because from a cash flow and order management standpoint, from the day we’re making the coconut oil to the day it arrives is about 60 to 75 days. That’s managing cash flow, because when we (pay) out $20,000, $30,000, $40,000, and we aren’t going to receive the product until about 60 days later, and that product won’t be sold for the next 60 days… (We’re) leaving $180,000 receivable, which is nuts. That’s an issue we’ve been trying to figure out.
What are the day-to-day operations like for your Broad Ripple headquarters?
Although we’re sold in seven different countries, in-house is where we handle customer service, process order management, new product developments, and we ship out direct and online orders. The oil that ships in bulk comes from a certified facility here in Indiana. Most of everything we do is in Indiana. Vietnam is where they harvest the coconut oil.
You offer a beauty and oral health line of products. Are any other items in the works? Every product we sell we want to keep under five ingredients. When we create a new product our biggest thing is, is it edible? Because your skin is your largest organ. And can you pronounce everything it’s made of? Our beauty line includes a facial oil, body butter, lip balm and shampoo bar. We’re going to launch vanilla body scrub soon, along with 10 other beauty products that are in the works.
For more information on Skinny & Co., visit Skinnyandcompany.com.