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Au Natural Launching a skin-care company from the ground up

By Michelle Prather

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Susie Wang, 24, sometimes feels disconcerted that she's notyet bringing in millions with her San Francisco natural skin-carecompany, Aqua Dessa. But Susie, we're here to tell ya, whileyour sales may still be under half a million, the notorietyyou've received from the likes of Mademoiselle and the businesspress is nothing short of remarkable, when countless brandsaren't getting any coverage at all.

Three years ago, Wang, then a math communications major/businessminor at the University of California, Berkeley (school's onhiatus for now), borrowed $5,000 from her 19-year-oldjunior-pro-golfer brother, James, to begin researching ways tostart a skin-care line. She could either go the easy route-hire aprivate-label manufacturer to mass-produce everything frommoisturizers to shower gels-or start from scratch, which is whatshe did.

Near-residency in the medical library taught Wang that heroriginal idea of using natural ingredients to make the "plainold stuff" like cleansers and toners wouldn't work,because when the ingredients she wanted to use-like vitamin C-arecoupled with water, they oxidize and no longer exude theirbenefits. Eager to set Aqua Dessa apart from "companies usingnatural skin care just for aesthetic appeal," she exploredfurther. "I studied every single herb, botanical and vitamin Iwanted to use and formulated them to see how they'd counteractor react."

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