Five stars for Sensatia, a company that just keeps on giving, writes Stephanie Mee.
We always love watching Bali brands succeed, and even more so if the brand has a mission that goes above and beyond just selling products. For nearly two decades now, we’ve watched Sensatia Botanicals grow from a small cottage industry creating handmade soaps into an internationally renowned all-natural skincare brand that has never wavered on their commitment to support the environment and the local community.
Sensatia’s story begins when American-born Michael R. Lorenti Jr. found himself in the small fishing village of Jasri in Karangasem, East Bali. It was the superb surf breaks that drew him there, but the warm and welcoming nature of the villagers that made him decide to stay.
Michael says, “When I first got to this part of the island, the local crew was just amazing; so incredibly friendly, fun, entertaining and ready to go anywhere with just the shirt on their back (and then give you the shirt on their back). This definitely made for some really ridiculous times back in the day, so of course I wanted to figure out how we could build something together.”
“At the time I was tired of all the horrible chemical products out there with their ridiculous claims to do this and that. Most of the garbage on the market was water, fillers and chemicals with very little of the valuable ‘key ingredients’, which is why you bought the products in the first place. So I created Sensatia for family and friends who wanted alternative, healthier, pure and delicious products.”
Sensatia was born in 2000 with just three employees making cold-pressed coconut soaps. All the ingredients came from the local area and the products were made by hand in Jasri. Despite its humble setup, a US chain store group quickly picked up the brand, followed by Japanese distributors. Soon orders for other products began to roll in, and after just a year, the company had expanded to 23 employees.
One of the reasons Sensatia was able to grow as quickly as it did was because it was designed to support and empower the local community. From the beginning and to this day, 20 per cent of the revenues go directly to the employees.
Michael says, “My heart drops when I think of some of the stories I had to pry out of some people’s mouths. Things you and I often take for granted like food, water and shelter are often unattainable for some folks. This is what brought me to start Sensatia Botanicals as a profit-sharing company that could siphon a small bit of the world’s affluence into this little village the world had forgotten, or perhaps never even knew about.”
Being good to the Earth is also fundamental to the company. Michael says, “We carefully consider every raw material before using it in a product to make sure we can maintain sustainability and have a low impact on the environment. We think of every choice as though we were already 100 times larger, meaning it’s important to make the right choices now so when we are much bigger our impact is still minimal.”
Each Sensatia product is made with only natural, cruelty-free materials that are sourced from reputable, sustainable-minded suppliers and tested in the lab before being processed. You won’t find any chemicals, synthetics or artificial ingredients in the products, and all finished goods go through a quality control centre before leaving the facility to ensure they meet strict standards including GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) and halal certification standards.
What’s on the outside also counts when it comes to Sensatia’s environmentally friendlt ethos. In terms of packaging, the company uses biodegradable shopping bags made from cassava starch and encourages customers and clients to return their bottles for recycling.
Michael says, “The empties we collect from both our retail customers as well as our hotel customers are sent to the local Bank Sampah where the plastic is processed and cleaned, then sold to companies making plastic products from 100 per cent post-consumer plastic waste like plastic cargo pallets.”
Now nearly 20 years on, Sensatia offers over 200 products in more than 40 countries and boasts five-star clients like Alila Hotels & Resorts, Mandapa Ritz Carlton, Karma Resorts, The Katamama and W Retreat & Spa Bali to name just a few. By staying true to their goals, the company has grown exponentially and they expect to continue to do so in the coming years.
Success may change some individuals and brands, but Michael says, “Rest assured, we will always maintain our small family charm, remembering one world, one people, and to always tread lightly. Our products are special, our people are special, and our purpose is greater than that of just profit.”
Read more about fabulous Sensatia Botanicals here.