It all started 14 years ago when Ido Magals newborn nephew had a bad diaper rash and nothing seemed to help. Magal, who had studied plant medicine and developed products using natural, local ingredients, decided to prepare a special cream for his nephew. His concoction worked like magic, and its virtues spread quickly by word of mouth among new mothers. Before he knew it, his phone didnt stop ringing with requests for his diaper cream!
I got phone calls from all over, Magal recalls, but at first I didnt think of turning it into a business. I just thought it was a nice way to pay my bills. Very soon, though, he realized that there is a great deal of demand for his products. He enlisted his Mom to help with the packing and wrapping, while he prepared the creams in his home on a Jezreel Valley moshav and started selling them all over Israel.
Emphasis on quality
It quickly turned into a formal business and soon Magal could no longer continue producing everything at home. He started to work with factories that manufactured the products according to his stringent formulas. I always put a great deal of emphasis on the quality of the plant extractions. Our ingredients are always organic, non-GMO, not tested on animals and of the best quality, he notes.
The product line soon grew to include facial creams and serums, moisturizers, hand creams, therapeutic products, body scrubs and oils, shampoo, eye creams and more. In Israel, we are the leader in our category, Magal asserts proudly. We are also the only natural cosmetic products that have been dermatologically tested and clinically proven to be effective. Its an expensive process to carry out clinical tests, but we have proven that 95% of people who use our products show an improvement. This is because we use very exact active ingredients, full of vitamins and minerals. In fact, almost no other brand worldwide can claim it has natural, organic and clinically proven solutions.
In Israel, Lavido products are sold in over 650 pharmacies and health stores. The brand also has four flagship stores – in Nahalal, Zichron Yaakov, Karkur and Herzliya. The first two (Nahalal and Zichron Yaakov) feature visitors centers where guests attend lectures and workshops about aromatherapy and plant medicine.
The Lavido factory shop and visitors center in the agricultural moshav Nahalal is surrounded by an enchanting five-dunam botanical garden, where plants are grown using ecological methods. The plants are used for education. We want to teach others about the world of local Israeli plants, explains Magal. We offer lectures on natural cosmetics and a healthy lifestyle, demonstrations of how to manufacture natural care products and essential oils, and a variety of workshops.
Entering the US market
Since the Israeli market is limited, four years ago Magal decided to grow the company by expanding into the international market. To sell abroad, its important to do it right, he says. We had to adapt the products, test them, find the right market. He decided to approach the Daroma-Tzafona Fund, which supports small businesses in Israels geographic periphery.
They liked the product and believed in the brand, Magal says of his initial meeting with the Daroma-Tzafona team. The Fund decided to support Lavido, and their help extended far beyond Magals wildest dreams. They helped us with financing, but that was only the beginning. They helped us in so many ways, and still today their support is unbelievable, he raves, adding that, they even send great people to help us think.
In fact, Daroma-Tzafona has been very involved in the companys vision process. It organized courses for Lavidos management, as well as lectures. The Fund also supports Lavido by subsidizing their participation in important international trade shows.
With the assistance of Daroma-Tzafona, Lavido opened a US office in 2015 and today its products are already being sold in independent stores and pharmacies across the United States. Cardinal Health, the largest distributor to US pharmacies, recently started marketing the brand – an important breakthrough. Moreover, one of the largest distributors to American duty free stores started offering Lavido products in special stands next to the stores cash registers. Called Grab & Go, the stands display creams in four different types of boxes, each one containing 10 personal one-time uses.
Magal points out that he is proud of the fact that Lavido products are made in Israel and makes a point of emphasizing this fact on the US packaging. Our products labels include Hebrew and their country of origin is marked clearly. I believe that being true to ourselves is what will bring us a blessing, he affirms, brushing aside the issue of BDS.
Just like the original diaper cream all those years ago, Magals products still continue to generate a great deal of enthusiasm and have already accumulated a growing base of devotees in America. Last year, Elle.com selected Lavidos eye cream as one of the top five cosmetic products on planet Earth, and Gwyneth Paltrows trendy goop.com website carries Lavido products, even naming Lavidos Replenishing Facial Serum on its list of 10 Best Clean Face Oils. If that werent enough of an endorsement, last year American Express USA bought 50,000 Lavido gift sets as presents to their exclusive list of female cardholders.
Its founder continues to insist on producing the same high-quality products as when he was personally manufacturing them in his kitchen. By sourcing only the highest quality natural and organic herb, fruit, vegetable and nut oils, and utilizing top-notch traditional and cutting edge technologies, the sky is the limit for Lavido.
The Daroma-Tzafona Fund
The Daroma-Tzafona Fund is currently supporting over 500 SMEs (such as Lavido) in Israels outlying regions, providing them with a variety of unique business tools and over $200 million in preferred loans since 2007.
Created as a non-profit company, Daroma-Tzafona is a unique partnership of Israeli industrialists and philanthropists, led by Eitan Wertheimer, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish Federations of North America. Its mission is to transform the landscape of economic opportunity and bring sustainable socioeconomic change to the Negev and Galilee, a vital component for strengthening Israels economy.
Daroma-Tzafona is creating a new economic reality in Israels north and south, through a strategically-driven, holistic business approach that includes:
- Micro Finance – Simplifying access to significant funding, with preferred terms for promising SMEs. This financing allows them to develop new products, advance manufacturing methods, keep pace with technological advances and drive their companies forward.
- Executive Education – The Daroma-Tzafona Academy is a tailored business training program for managers in the periphery. The six month-long course, developed and operated in conjunction with Tel Aviv University Faculty of Managements LAHAV Executive Education program, empowers hundreds of business managers with critical tools and skills.
- Mentoring Program – The Fund developed an Advisory Board tool comprised of leading business people-volunteers working with client companies to upgrade their management skills and develop and implement growth strategies. Progress review meetings are held every 3-4 months while the Mentors assist the businesses to accelerate development and maximize their business potential.
- Export Tools – Expanding markets is essential to SMEs. However, the cost of international marketing activity or to participate in major industry exhibitions can be prohibitive. Therefore, the Fund provides critical subsidies for companies to showcase their products and make their mark in the international arena.
The Fund supervises and evaluates its impact and constantly assesses options for additional business assistance.