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LAFAYETTE, Louisiana (KADN/KLAF) - A Lafayette-based skincare company has stopped all operations on its hand sanitizer production. This, as COVID-19 has already ravaged most of the year, the FDA’s list of recalled hand sanitizers balloon to more than 100 and distilleries continue racing to make hand sanitizers amid the global pandemic.
The all-natural FDA approved and regulated local hand sanitizer producer, Tous Naturels, LLC are unable to continue production of what Managing Partner and General Manager, Ross Norwood says was the company’s most popular product, second to the multi-use miracle cream.
Tous Naturels, LLC (8 oz.) bottle of Cucumber-Mint Hand Sanitizer Gel
The company, founded in 2012, crafted an 8 ingredient hand sanitizer. The main ingredient is sugarcane alcohol deriving from, arguably one of the most successful crop in Louisiana history, the state’s sugarcane.
Ross suggests the alcohol-based hand product was like no other saying, “it was always 90% alcohol, but it soften your skin, on contact.” He adds, “When people put on normal hand sanitizer it stinks, it stings their hands, it burns their skin and dries them out really bad, and ours was formulated to do none of those things.”
He and wife, Lynn Norwood, a working mom, the founder and owner of the company were doing fine, but immediately after the Louisiana Department of Health reported Louisiana’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus on March 9th, Norwood said the company started to fill orders internationally - places such as London, Scotland Australia and Ireland - selling 72,000 8 oz bottles in just 14 business days, all by hand.
Ross says the biggest obstacle has been getting the much needed help from the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, in a timely manner.
“They really just dropped the ball with us, so we sucked it up and did it ourselves.”
Ross says they did not to take out any loans and worked out of pocket, while trying to get access to those who were in need, but did get a lot of useful information from a meeting with LEDA officials. Ultimately the Norwood’s made calls on their own to the American Red Cross and local shelters and other places and orgnaiztions who may be in need.
“We were in a position, at the time, we had enough hand sanitizer to provide at a government distribution level and we just needed the neccassry contacts.”
Ross says the company was willing to work with clinics and hospitals saying, “We even accepted the fact that we were not going to get paid for it and they [LEDA] just refused to help us,” and part of LEDA's mission statement reads “to provide assistance to local companies in their growth,” Ross feels the company has not received that, at the time of meeting with LEDA, especially for a businesses considered essential as the FDA has issued guidance for the temporary preparation of alcohol-based hand sanitizers by some companies and pharmacies during the public health emergency posed by COVID-19.
“We have the one product, by presidential order, we need to provide.”
Lafayette merchants such as Drug Emporium on Bertrand Drive and Sandra's Cafe & Health Food on Rena Drive, as well as tobacco shop, CPiper's Haven, on W Congress Street once carried Tous Naturels, LLC’s hand sanitizer products.
The company is also facing another obstacle with having plenty of high grade Louisiana alcohol and no place to put it.
“If we had the chemicals and ingredients to make our hand sanitizers, could we? yes. the problem and odds is, there are still the people who manufacture the molds to make the bottles and the closures are back ordered into 2021,” Ross explains. “So even if we had 50 gallons of hand sanitizer right now, which to us, is about 800 bottles, we still wouldn’t be able to move it. We’d have to do it on a recylcling program where old customers who still may have their old Tous Naturels bottles can bring it by and we’ll refill it.”
As for help for area businesses within Lafayette Parish, LEDA’s President & CEO Gregg Gothreaux says, "we're moving through the process and so is the city and we're not at the point where we're telling people they have been approved unless they automatically disqualify themselves by not being in the parish or not providing the proper information."
Gothreaux adds 800+ applications are currently being reviewed for the loans and grants they will be providing.
Tous Naturels, LLC products like the multi-use miracle cream and ultra premium body butter are still being produced, but as last checked, the company was selling its last two cases of the cucumber-mint hand sanitizer after being discovered in its lab.
“We’re down but we’re not out. We are very much alive and well as a company,” said Ross.