GT Cosmetics Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Engr. Leonora B. Salvane, was awarded this year’s Grand Chamber Countryside Entrepreneur of the Year by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) today at the Radisson Blu Hotel.
Born to a poor peasant family in Bohol, Salvane finished a degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of San Carlos and began her venture into business by selling pneumatic parts and industrial chemicals.
“Life was hard. We were not earning enough for the family. I prayed hard for a business where I can practice my profession as a chemical engineer,” she said.
The year was 1994 when Salvane started her soap making business with only P500 as capital. She and her husband would mix the soaps themselves in their home kitchen using a baking pan.
“Production was only 50 bars per day with my kids helping in packaging the finished products. We sold the soap through family and friends,” Salvane shared.
GT Cosmetics now has 2 production plants. The first is an expansion of the Salvane house in Liloan while the second opening in 2012 in Marilao, Bulacan to cater to its fast growing Luzon market. A third manufacturing plant which is currently being constructed in Tayud, Liloan is set to be open first quarter of 2016.
From a purely family affair, GT Cosmetics now employs a total of 350 employees to handle soap production and produces more than 700,000 items across all product lines monthly.
“From only handmade papaya and carrot soaps from natural extracts, we now offer a full line of skincare products from moisturizing and bleaching creams, sun block, clarifying toner, and lotions,” said Salvane.
GT Cosmetics products are distributed nationwide through stores Watsons, SM Supermalls, Robinsons Malls, Gaisano Malls, and Prince Hypermart chains, Mercury Drug and among many others. It is also available in the US and Canada.
The firm also expanded by opening GT Northeast Academy, a school of excellence also based in Liloan for Cebu’s North communities.
The school began full operation last June 2014 with classes for Preschool and Grades 1 to 7, state-of-the-art facilities, and fully air conditioned classrooms.
GT Cosmetics have received several awards and certificates of standards compliance, including a Good Manufacturing Practice Certification, an ISO Certification, and Halal Certification.
Cebu Business Month
According to Salvane, GT Cosmetic’s secret to success can be attributed to a passion for excellence, hard work, humility, faith and prayers, and sharing.
Celebrating its 21st year this year, GT Cosmetics plans to harness the opportunities in the emerging markets of Asia offered by the Asean integration.
“Our experience demonstrates that Filipino entrepreneurs and manufacturers have the capability to both compete globally as well as contribute locally to the community,” said Salvane.
The Cebu Chamber Awards, which seeks to recognize exemplary entrepreneurs who have contributed to Cebu’s economic development, is the culmination activity of the CCCI’s Cebu Business Month.