“With these words, the winner of the first version of the Impulso Chileno contest of the Fundación Luksic, which provides financing and academic support to entrepreneurs from all over Chile, describes the challenges and dreams she has with her business.
A nurse by profession, Karina Riquelme tells how her enterprise, which began looking for a solution for her daughter’s atopic skin, has grown. Determined to find it, in 2018 she took a course on making natural products. “I learned how to make a special soap. She used it and within 24 hours I saw changes in her skin, it went from looking flaky to moisturized. That’s when I noticed how important it was to know how to make a good product,” recalls the entrepreneur.
More than three years have passed since the creation of her first soap. Her business is growing every day and Karina is witnessing how her products change the lives of her customers. The challenges are great, but the motivation to continue helping people like her daughter is even greater.
The owner of “Tissé” tells how this period of learning and growth has been, and how new products and opportunities to take her brand to countries like Brazil and Mexico have been born.
Consultations, doctors and treatments. Countless of them for eight years and Karina saw that none of them gave the expected results to treat Catalina’s atopic dermatitis. Determined to improve her little girl’s quality of life, she took the natural product making course in September 2018. Her first soap would be the beginning of a path she never imagined.
At that time she worked as a nurse in the pediatric area attending to patients between four and 12 years of age and saw many recurrent cases of dry skin and dermatitis. “Thirty percent of the population in Chile, at that time, was affected by this pathology, while worldwide the figure was 10%,” explains the nurse.
One day, without looking for it, she came across the publication about the application to the first version of Impulso Chileno. “I was curious to check more details and I really liked the focus of the contest, and I said to myself ‘if I could help my daughter, why not help other people with the same pathologies’ and I sent the form”, says Karina.
In December she received the great news: she was selected among the 60 winners of the contest. The prize she received was funding for her business – $10 million pesos -, personalized mentoring and classes taught by the School of Management of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
For the business to work and have a promising future, the next step for Karina was to formalize the company in April 2019, she signed an agreement with a product production laboratory and obtained the sanitary resolution registration from the Public Health Institute to manufacture this type of articles.
“Between December and April were months of a lot of learning. I had no idea how the market worked. Impulso Chileno was the key to getting off the ground; the classes and advice help to complement everything that it means to have an enterprise and how to promote its growth,” says Riquelme.
The 34-year-old nurse describes herself as a persevering person and says that many doors were closed to her, but she kept knocking until a laboratory gave her the opportunity. With them she would bring out her first two products: a body cream for people with atopic dermatitis and a hand cream for people with contact dermatitis. At that time it took approximately six months to sell 1,200 units. Today that same quantity is sold out in a month and a half.
In 2020, it obtained the sanitary registration to manufacture three new products, all aimed at treating skin problems. “With the pandemic, these problems were exacerbated, dermatology consultations had a long waiting line, the forty affected children and under this scenario, Tissé’s sales increased”, says the entrepreneur. The new products launched at the height of the pandemic were also aimed at helping health personnel, whose skin was affected after long days with masks and elements to protect themselves from Covid-19.
With the goal of continuing to grow, Karina applied for new funds, winning two of them. She received funding and advice to continue to grow her business, and was awarded two new funds: one from Corfo’s “Semilla expande” and one from Startup Chile, which, out of 250 ventures worldwide, only 24 were selected. “This helped us to obtain dermatological certification for dermocosmetic products, where specialists carry out studies and establish that they are suitable for sensitive skin, hypoallergenic and recommended for babies, children and adults,” she explains.
Soon, says Karina, Tissé will have new products available. “We are going to partner with a prestigious dermatological center in Brazil to continue our research on atopic skin. We will become the first Chilean company to have a special formulation for atopic skin,” says Karina proudly.
Tissé crosses borders
Atopic and contact dermatitis. Tissé was born to treat these two pathologies, but one of Karina’s next challenges is to cover many more. In addition, a goal for 2022 is “to raise the first investment fund that will allow us to enter the retail market and expand our products. We are already working together with the Mexican country and we hope that soon our products will reach that country,” says the winner of Impulso Chileno.
“Tissé has grown and the time has come to compare ourselves with big brands. We have everything to go out and conquer the world and reach Latin American countries,” says the sick woman who in 2019 left her job to devote herself full time to the business.
From now on, its products, which are not tested on animals, will only be sold in glass containers, leaving plastic behind. “Caring for the environment is part of our company’s identity,” says Karina.
Tissé currently has nine products on the market and in the summer two more will be added: a facial cream for reddened and irritated skin and sunscreen. They can be purchased on its website www.tisse.cl and between now and January it will open branches in different regions of the country.