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Engineering Skin Solutions in South Africa

We all deal with frustrating skin problems at some point in our lives. Skin health is crucial to not just our physical, but our emotional wellbeing as well. However through advances in research , science and technology the world of skincare is starting to deliver clinically proven results. Our writer Melissa Nare chats to Dr Judey Pretorius, a seasoned professional in the skincare business about how our skin talks to us.

Ignited Woman Mag (IW): Tell us a little bit more about Biomedical Emporium.

Dr Judey Pretorius (JP): Biomedical Emporium is a leading Biotechnology company specializing in the formulation of advanced biological products, cell culture processes and tissue engineering for advanced wound healing. We do advisory on regenerative medicine that formulates, manufactures and distribute products for the Pharmaceutical, Cosmeceutical and Medical Device industry. Biomedical emporium only utilizes quality pharmaceutical grade raw materials in all formulations. All products are cosmeceutical products which means that all cosmetic products comprise of medicinal benefits.

IW: What motivated you to venture into the Skincare Business?

Dr Judey Pretorius (JP): The need to help people have healthy and healed skin was a motivation. I have always dreamed of becoming a brilliant scientist, discovering and developing my own product ranges. With my specialized skills in product formulation and development, I decided to start my own business and co-founded Biomedical Emporium. I started by doing biopsies on human skin cultured in a lab, what we call cellular epithelial autographs and then make matrices or matrixes of it that you can use for skin transplants for burns patients, so I decided if we were to try to heal skin let's kind of look at once the skin is healed back to it's optimal state how can we maintain it and how can we you now make sure that the skin is always in a state of health and equilibrium yeah you status and so forth and that's how the cosmeceutical brand actually started.

IW: What are some of the problems you were trying to solve when formulating these solutions?

JP: Many people really struggle with pigmentation, sunspots so that's a big problem in South Africa and we’re all worried about aging so that's one of the things that we look at. So many people teenagers and adults struggle with acne, psoriasis, skin cirrhosis, they have old scars, new scars, acute chronic post-surgical wounds. We embarked on doing a whole lot of research and development on every single skin type and condition that you may have and then for lighting products to help people address those type of concerns. It started with tissue engineering and eventually the result was hundreds of dermatological application products.

There’s not nearly one dermatology concern that people have that we cannot assist with or give guidance and have some form of a treatment protocol ready and available for them. We really do help people a lot with skin concerns.

IW: Please share with us your academic and professional background

JP: My qualifications are BSC in Biological Science and then did my Honors in Biochemistry, Master’s degree in Genetics and my PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Lastly l did a post-doctoral degree in in Biological Sciences but with the focus on tissue engineering and more specifically in skin cells. I regard myself more as an academic because I work with two universities in the country, University of Pretoria and the Northwest University where I'm a lecturer and a co- supervisor for PhD students and postdoctoral students in tissue engineering pharmaceutical chemistry. Everything that we do and the products that we put out there is 100% academic.

IW: What kind of impact would you like to have in the skincare business?

JP: People get disappointed when they spend a lot of money on cosmetic products and it just doesn't do anything and it's usually quite expensive as well. The impact was to drive results as much as I possibly can and then putting the emphasis on any skin type. I never want people to come and tell me or ask me if we only focus on one skin type. I really want to go out of my way to help literally every single person that I possibly can.

The impact I was hoping to have is really formulating something that will make a biological and a therapeutic difference.

We help people from all walks of life and people really have some bad skin concerns. Some people maybe not so bad but vanity is a real thing for them, it's a mental thing and if your skin is not in a good state, then it affects your mental health as well. People get depressed and it makes an impact on their social skills, they rather retract.

IW: What are some of the challenges you have encountered?

JP: Firstly, we have encountered a challenge of too many competitors. The market is over saturated, so you must sell a little bit more than your average because you chose a saturated market. What also happens is that your competitors try to copy and replicate either the product or your strategies. For example, we sometimes even find that if we do a post on social media the text will be taken word for word and then our competitors will use or even go out in the market by saying that they are directly associated with us.

IW: What has been your business highlights?

JP: Despite all of that what has been the highlight so far for me and even still is that even now in our 9th year we grow exponentially and it's very uncommon for a company to grow and grow because usually new companies grow and then they reach a plateau and then it's just they become steady and maybe later they grow again and so forth. We have external companies that actually notice like for instance we won the national Business Awards for fastest growing company in South Africa and we won an award for most scientific company in the country. It is things like this that's very rewarding for us because we really try to be very dynamic. It makes it just worth a while the hustling and bustling of every day.



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Editor's note

American novelist Louisa May Alcott said it best when she said “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

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