Advanced Skin Care Formulas
The daughter of an immigrant and the son of a father born in poverty, Linda and Brian Kaminski put everything on the line, investing their savings, mortgaging their home, selling the family car, borrowing on credit cards, and when that fell short, selling many of their possessions to raise cash to research advanced skin care formulas and then organize a company to market them.
Without a car, Brian pedaled a bicycle around town while Linda gave away samples to shoppers in the parking lot of their local Wal-Mart. Today their company, L'Bri Pure n Natural, based in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, ships more than 200,000 bottles and jars of skin care lotion, face and body scrub, diet supplements, and beauty enhancers direct to customers nationwide.
The road to leading a multi-million-dollar company began in 1977 when then 20-year-old newlywed, Linda Kaminski, was working as a personal secretary at Evinrude Motors in Milwaukee. I was having some skin challenges, and a friend at work told me about a woman who had these skin-care products, Linda relates. I didn't know anything about direct selling, but I called her and started using the products. My skin improved and soon I was also selling these products to my friends.
Linda quit her secretarial job to devote fulltime to her direct selling career, becoming the company's top seller. Meanwhile Linda's husband, Brian, was employed in the aluminum foundry of Milwaukee's sprawling Briggs & Stratton factory. Molten aluminum in excess of 1,220 degrees Fahrenheit was poured into dies for casting the block and parts of lawnmower engines.
In the years I was with Briggs & Stratton, I always worked in the aluminum foundry, in die casting, which is always very hot and dirty, Brian says. I had a couple of really big burns, and many small burns on my arms and chest, but so did everyone else. It was just part of the job.
On this particular day in 1985, at about noon, a forklift delivering a large pot of molten metal to the die casting area slammed on the breaks. Like a wave splashing over a break wall, super-heated aluminum spewed from the pot, soaking Brian Kaminski from the waist to the floor. Brian was rushed by ambulance to the Burn Unit of Milwaukee's St. Joseph Hospital.
Following initial treatment at the hospital, Brian was sent home with strict orders to treat the third-degree burns with a prescription salve and bandages to prevent life-threatening infection. It was difficult to remove the bandages to put on the salve without further damaging the burns, Linda recalls of the ordeal. Says Brian, It got worse and in a few days I could hardly walk. It wasn't healing.
Linda adds, We kept up this routine for about five days and Brian was still in pain and the wounds looked terrible. A friend suggested they try aloe vera. The Kaminski's were aware aloe vera was a popular home remedy for minor burns but this was no minor burn.
At this point, Linda says, we had nothing to lose because the salve and bandages were not working. She removed the bandages for the last time and spread aloe on the damaged skin. Within two days, the pain subsided and Brian's legs appeared to be healing. On the follow-up visit to the doctor, the physician scolded them for not following his instructions.
He gave us a long lecture of how lucky we were that some major infection hadn't settled into the skin, Linda says. He told us the prescription salve contained certain things to help ward off infection and there's a reason you keep the burns covered. The doctor insisted they drop the aloe and return to the salve and bandages.
We just felt good about the aloe, Brian says. So we kept using it, and I got better. There was no scarring. The doctors and nurses were amazed how well my burn healed, and we attributed it to the aloe. Brian recovered and returned to work at the foundry but within six years he left his factory job to help his wife full-time in her home-based business.
In 1998, remembering their experience with aloe vera, Linda and Brian decided to start their own skin care company with formulas based on aloe vera. Explains Brian, Most skin care products begin with water as the basic ingredient. Instead of water, we decided to use aloe vera as the base.
According to the Kaminski's, aloe vera contains 75 nutrients, 200 active compounds, 20 essential minerals, 18 amino acids, and 12 vitamins. Nicknamed the burn plant, aloe vera has been the subject of numerous scientific inquiries and has been used as a healing agent for thousands of years.
Working with bio-chemists, Linda and Brian supervised the formulation of several aloe vera-based, all-natural skin care products. We wanted skin care formulas that were pure and natural, of the highest quality, and that would promote healing to help people have younger, healthier skin, Brian says. We made sure everything was well within FDA regulations and was documented to be healthy for the skin.
Combining their names, Linda and Brian named their new company L'Bri Pure n Natural, pronounced , Lih-Brye. The bio-chemists went to work to create a comprehensive skin care line of cleansers and moisturizers. The Kaminski's were told the work would require as long as a year and the price tag would be high.
To meet the research and development costs, they mortgaged their home, raising $200,000. Linda and Brian borrowed $150,000 on credit cards, committed their entire family savings, and then sold their boat, their car, and a number of their household goods. Without a car, Brian rode a bicycle around town.
Finally, the first products began arriving from the lab. Among them was L'Bri Daily Moisturizing Hand and Body Lotion, made with aloe and 41 other ingredients, including vitamins, natural botanicals, Echinacea extract, ginseng extract, and cucumber essence. The office and distribution center were located in the basement of the couples suburban home.
We knew our products were superior, and people would love them, if they tried them, Linda says. The couple leased a compact car and Linda drove to a Wal-Mart parking lot to give away half-ounce samples of the lotion and other products. At this time we were so far in debt, the business was now about survival, she adds.
I positioned the car so I could see people coming out of Wal-Mart, she describes her sampling technique. I asked people to try a free sample of our pure and natural lotion. Many people accepted the samples and soon Linda and Brian were filling orders from their home. In the years since, Brian estimates the company has distributed more than 100,000 free samples of various L'Bri Pure n Natural products.
Brian Kaminski no longer rides a bicycle to work and years ago Linda stopped handing out samples in parking lots. Their company now occupies a large office and distribution complex southwest of Milwaukee. Several thousand L'Bri Pure n Natural independent sales consultants represent the products nationwide. Annual sales are on target to exceed $5 million dollars this year.
On one recent morning, while walking through the busy shipping department, chatting with happy employees and watching L'Bri Pure n Natural cartons fill UPS trucks, Brian told a guest: I was confident that if we worked hard, did the right things, sold a good product at a fair price with good service, we would be successful.
L'Bri Pure n Natural markets skin care, nutritional, and beauty products from its offices in Mukwonago Wisconsin through a national network of several thousand independent sales consultants. The company offers a selection of free samples of its most popular products, asking the consumer pay $5.75 for shipping and handling. Samples include a cleanser, freshener, and moisturizer packaged as the Customized Skin Care Trio, Smooth n Firm Eye Repair Gel, Facial Masque, Rejuvenating Enzyme Facial Peel, and the L'Bri Moisturizing Hand and Body Lotion. Free samples may be requested at the company's website. To learn more about L'Bri Pure n Natural, visit the website at aloepure.lbri.com.