SHE looks more like a model for the brand than the owner and CEO. After all, her “fairer than average mestiza skin” makes her stand out more in a country whose people are known for their sun-kissed brown complexion. Meet Analiza “Aiza” Diuco, the founder and CEO of Age Defying Solutions, the company behind the extremely popular Glupa brand of whitening soaps, lotions and creams.
In a sit-down interview, Aiza, as she prefers to be called, explains that she comes from a family of entrepreneurs. “My father is a mechanical engineer who used to work for a big local confectionery company for 16 years, until he decided to put up his own confectionery manufacturing company making chocolates and wafer sticks 26 years ago.” Around the same time, her father also invested in a now-defunct paging company called InfoPage, and it was here where she first worked after graduation. However, after eight months, Aiza felt she needed to gain experience working outside of their family business.
She says, “I’m a daddy’s girl and I had always been under his shadow. But I also wanted to be part of the outside corporate world.” So she worked for another manufacturing company that distributes beauty products and intimate apparel for women. She admits it was both a challenging yet enriching experience, because she learned so much about sales and operations through in-house trainings and outside corporate workshops. These were valuable lessons she was able to apply when she eventually put up her own business.
After several short stints working outside, Aiza says she returned to work for her father’s confectionery business and stayed for 10 years. All this time, she says she nurtured this growing desire to be a part of the beauty industry, and told herself, “if I was going to have my own business, it will be about beauty.” As it happened, she had an aunt who was based in Canada, who was asking her to send her some whitening products like papaya soap.
Then another whitening product became all the rage in the market, known as glutathione.
So Aiza started doing research and experimenting on whitening products and which ingredient is more effective. Little did she know, she says, that she was already innovating and inventing a new whitening product which combined glutathione and papaya– thus the brand Glupa was born.
In May 2009, Aiza formally launched the Glupa brand of whitening soaps, lotions and creams under the new SEC-registered company she herself owned, called Age Defying Solutions Philippines Corp. She acknowledges that while the beauty and whitening industry is a billion-dollar global industry, competition is also very stiff. The winsome CEO knew she was up against giants, so she decided to aggressively market her products, eventually landing shelf spaces in Mercury Drug and Watson Stores nationwide, as well as getting a celebrity endorser such as Boy Abunda. She says it was a costly campaign, but her strategy worked.
Today, she proudly states that she has expanded her product lines to include toners, a men’s line of soap, and soon toners and deep cleansers. Glupa also has a teen’s line of soaps, acne toners and acne facial gels. Aiza says she is also excited to launch by next year her Age Defying Solutions Line, which is even more affordable to consumers nationwide.
Looking back, Aiza says her success in getting a significant chunk in the local beauty and whitening industry has been almost like a roller-coaster ride. She recalls one of the biggest dilemmas she had to face back then, which was how to categorize her product. “I cannot consider myself in the papaya category, nor in the glutathione category, so I had to let the consumers know that this is an innovation, that this is something new and better.”
She also instinctively knew that she had to be different from the rest in terms of getting an image model, because she felt that it wouldn’t be fair to consumers to present a model who was already fair-skinned to begin with. “I don’t want to deceive the public. I want to tell them it’s a breakthrough product, and its proudly Philippine-made.”
These days, Aiza’s schedule is proving to be more hectic than ever because she’s about to realize another one of her dreams for her company. The lady CEO says she is finally putting up her own modern manufacturing facility. This will enable her to upgrade the capacity of her production, with an eye to exporting more of her products abroad. She promises to disclose more developments in due time, saying only that she’s happy with the brighter prospects for the retail industry, which includes her whitening products.
It also helps that Asians, including those who already have fair skin, remain obsessed with keeping their complexions whiter. But Aiza points out that for her, it is more than a shallow obsession. Rather, it is an innate desire for consumers to take care of themselves by making sure they look good inside, as well as on the outside.