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Cream of the Crop
by Stephen Ward
Jul 22, 2011 | 1011 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne
Reno resident Wendy Avansino developed a line of face cream that she is selling in local Scolari’s grocery stores and Whole Foods Market.
Tribune/John Byrne Reno resident Wendy Avansino developed a line of face cream that she is selling in local Scolari’s grocery stores and Whole Foods Market.
RENO — Like many people, the price of an effective face cream used to make Wendy Avansino shudder.

“I would spend $75 for a face cream from a beauty salon, always because it has the ingredient alpha-hydroxy,” Avansino said.

A resident of Reno, Avansino, has been using face creams with alpha-hydroxy for 20 years, considering herself an avid user and saying she used to pay steep prices for products with the ingredient.

That changed In early 2009 when an episode of “The Dr. Oz Show” that featured a detailed description of the product fueled her understanding — or, more specifically, her outrage.

“He talked about how he highly recommends it because it is scientifically proven to be effective, but to be careful not to pay too much for it,” she said.

It was at this moment that Avansino decided to start her own, more affordable face cream line. She worked tirelessly for months before getting her product, Alpha-Maximum face cream, in local Scolari’s Food & Drug stores and Whole Foods markets.

But not every retailer gave Avansino a chance.

“I tried everything,” she said. “I sent it to CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens … Others thought there was no way I could compete with major brands so they told me I didn’t have a good idea. Others simply said I couldn’t do it.”

A little more than two years later, Avansino’s products are carried throughout the region, including all Whole Foods Markets in Northern California, and are considered a commercial success by the grocery retail officials in charge of measuring such figures.

And, at about $20 per two-ounce jar, Avansino has already made $40,000 in sales this year.

“From what I understand, her product has been selling quite well,” said Stacy Cusack, the Whole Body team leader for Whole Foods Market in Reno.

According to Cusack, her team carries products from about 15 different local companies. She said a potential client meets with a team leader and introduces him or her to the product. If it gets through the testing stage, the client fills out paperwork while the product is sent to regional managers to ensure it meets Whole Foods standards.

“Nothing can be tested on animals, and there’s probably 300 ingredients that we don’t carry,” she said.

Pam Dickson, a scan coordinator at a Reno Scolari’s market for 21 years, tested Avansino’s product for her company; her husband, Scott, used to be a non-foods buyer at the grocery chain.

“(Avansino) brought a couple to him and I absolutely loved it,” Dickson said. “I told him I had to get it, and that’s where it all started.”

When asked what it was she liked about the face cream, Dickson’s response underscored the frustration Avansino felt prior to creating the product.

“It actually worked the way it said it would,” she said. “A lot of products say they will do something just to make you feel good about yourself. This one actually does what it says it will do; it reduces the amount of wrinkles and moisturizes.”

As for the future, Avansino plans to put more products on the market that will actually do what they say they do.

“I definitely plan on expanding,” she said. “I would like to expand into other regions, retailers basically. I’m also with my chemist working on expanding the line.”
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