Michael R. Lorenti Jr. has been exceptionally busy during the past year. As the co-founder and Managing Director of Bali-based natural skincare brand Sensatia Botanicals, he has been keeping tabs on a lot of new products and a big new factory, not to mention a succession of store openings outside the island. Sensatia Botanicals started in 2000 in the small fishing village of Jasri in Karangasem, East Bali. Back then, the New York-born entrepreneur was working with three employees to make coconut soap. His “feel-good company” is unusual, to say the least: a village-based profit-sharing venture “dedicated to [Bali’s] fine, natural products, local people and rich culture”.
The company website states: “We believe in growing together as a community. Thus, we are very proud that Sensatia Botanicals employees are 20 percent shareholders of the principal production company PT Sensatia Botanicals. Now, we are 65 dedicated people strong, producing international quality products in a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified production facility, complete with a QC department, a certified calibrated microbiology and chemical lab, and a pharmacist that oversees the production and safety assessment of every single batch before it leaves Sensatia’s production facility.” These days, Sensatia Botanicals outlets are seemingly everywhere. With over 200 products sold in 40 countries worldwide and stores across Indonesia, the company is indeed making a difference.
“For years, we concentrated on our export markets and were not really interested in selling in Indonesia,” Lorenti explains to Prestige at the Sensatia Botanicals store in Seminyak Village. “But after 2010, when you could register products online here, it became much easier to do business in Indonesia. At that point, our focus was on the Indonesian market as well, and we began looking for domestic sales to match our export business,” he adds.
A wave of competing local skincare brands has made its presence felt on social media. But Sensatia has always been a favourite among Indonesian customers, particularly because of its sustainability programmes, as well as its reputation for transparency and using ingredients that are not only user-friendly but also not harmful to the environment. The company’s products are “cruelty-free, palm-oil free, sulphate-free, vegan and reef safe”, among others. Achieving GMP certification means that the company has proved that it’s able to track and trace every single drop of every single material that has entered or left the facility.
About the quality of his company’s products, Lorenti says: “When you are able to fulfill the needs of your Japanese customers, the standard must be really high, and we apply that standard to our local market as well.” It’s no wonder than that big hotel brands like Alila Hotels & Resorts, Karma Resorts, Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, The Katamama at Potato Head and W Retreat & Spa Bali trust Sensatia to produce toiletries for use throughout their properties.
The homegrown brand’s success didn’t come easy, and maintaining the quality of the products in accordance with the ever-changing rules and regulations for cosmetics products is a top priority for Lorenti and his team. “I’ve been living here since the Soeharto era, so it’s actually incredible to see such changes, such growth, in a short period of time,” he marvels. “In terms of the industry regulations here, it’s actually easier for us to operate now that we are so well established.”
With the company’s success come greater demands. Sensatia Botanicals has recently opened a new factory in Karangasem. “What’s important is that we keep up with everything,” Lorenti says. “We managed to obtain a large piece of land in Karangasem. So, some of the staff are now moving over to the new place, and we can add new people at the same time. The new factory is 10 times the size of the old one, so it’s a pretty exciting addition for us.”
Having lived in Indonesia for more than 22 years, Lorenti reflects on how Bali has developed over the years. “There’s been tons of changes in Bali! Especially down in this area of Bali, it has grown incredibly fast and everything is just escalating quickly. But luckily, in the area where the Sensatia factory resides, the changes are happening at a slower pace, which is really nice. I love Karangasem because, to me, that’s the real Bali. The area remains the same, so for me, it’s a great location, because it just makes sense to be surrounded by nature when you’re making natural products.”