THE beauty and personal care market has been growing steadily and a homegrown soapmaker from the town of Liloan has grand ambitions to expand her presence in Southeast Asia and Oceania.

Now exporting to the United States and Canada, GT Cosmetics will soon serve consumers in Brunei and New Zealand. The announcement came on Tuesday during the company’s inauguration of its new P50-million location in Barangay Tayud, Liloan, triple the size of the old plant in Barangay Yati.

“This is in preparation for the bigger market (we will serve),” said GT Cosmetics chief operating officer engineer Leonora Salvane, referring to the 3,400-square-meter plant.

GT Cosmetics has also been exporting papaya, carrot, and bleaching soaps to Japan, Korea, and Finland. Daily, the company produces 12,000 bars of soap, with more than half being distributed in the Visayas and Mindano regions, while the rest are sent to Luzon and overseas.

GT Cosmetics also manufactures beauty creams, facial cleansers and body lotions. Last April, the company released its deodorant lines. It currently maintains two factories, one in Batangas and the other in Tayud. The old plant in Yati will be used as a stock room for raw materials.

“We are not closing possible doors for a plant in Mindanao,” Salvane added, noting its large market for Visayas and Mindanao.

Salvane also seeks growth globally.

In the Philippines alone, market research firm Euromonitor International forecasts the value of beauty and personal care market to reach P139.8 billion this year, representing a projected compounded annual growth rate between 2011 and 2016 of 1.7 percent.

“Due to favorable socioeconomic factors, beauty and personal care grew steadily in 2015. Increasing incomes among consumers paved the way for bigger opportunities, even for niche categories,” Euromonitor said.

The research firm particularly noted the rising middle-income market in the country, mostly brought about by employees in the information technology and business process management sector.

Further, the research revealed that Philippine consumers seek multi-benefits in one product to get the most value for money or for practicality. In 2015, several beauty and personal care products incorporated benefits such as anti-ageing, SPF, easier application and whitening.

Salvane said GT Cosmetics utilizes natural extracts for its beauty products.

The story of GT Cosmetics started in 1994 when Salvane, with a capital of P500, made papaya soaps in the comfort of her family’s kitchen in Liloan. The family used to produce 50 bars of soap daily. In 2006, they expanded their home to include a plant and an office.

Six years later, a plant in Marilao, Bulacan opened to serve a growing market.