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On Doctors’ Orders

When Adolfo Bejarano was trying to figure out how to sell the high-end skin care cosmetic line Mesoestetic, he decided to take an unconventional route — exclusively sell through plastic surgeons and dermatologists, though no prescription is required. Bejarano and his wife, Monica Harb run the distribution company Mesoestetic USA in Encino, which sells and distributes Mesoestetic products in the United States. Mesoestetic SL, based in Barcelona, Spain, makes about 150 products, including high-protection sunscreens, professional face masks, facial cleansers and even a stem cell treatment for the skin’s aging process. One of the company’s best-selling products, the Cosmelan Pack, targets skin blemishes and dark spots, and can retail anywhere from $600 to $3,000. At a lower price point, the Radiance DNA professional treatment, which helps patients with aging skin, sells for $200. “We consider ourselves an exclusive boutique distribution market,” said Bejarano, 42. Despite those price points, the doctor-office strategy has paid off for Bejarano. Mesoestetic USA, which originally started with just the couple in 2002, now has 26 employees. The couple said sales have grown an average of 30 percent a year since 2010 but they decline to state annual revenue. In fact, growth has come so fast the company is moving to larger offices in North Hollywood. Harb estimates the payroll will expand to more than 30 employees once the move happens in November. “We started from zero. Eleven years later, we have outgrown the space,” said Harb, 41. The company purchased its new 9,856 square-foot headquarters at 11313 Weddington Street for $2.5 million. The couple plan to invest about $500,000 on renovations, which include converting about 3,000 square-feet into a training facility for educating estheticians, sales representatives and other employees on the products. Selling to doctors While Bejarano concentrates on selling to doctors in the U.S., the products are tested and manufactured in Barcelona. Mesoestetic was founded in 1984 by Joan Carlos Font and Jose Almansa, former pharmaceutical executives in Spain. The company’s global distribution covers 60 countries. Fifteen percent of the company’s sales come from Spain, 25 percent come from the rest of Europe and another 25 percent come from North America, with the remainder from Latin America and Asia, according to a report by Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia. Bejarano’s sales pitch to doctors consists of before-and-after photos. If the doctors seem skeptical, Bejarano shows them photos of himself and how the treatments have improved his appearance. He sometimes pays dermatologists for a consultation, but uses the time to sell his products rather than get medical advice. Mesoestetic USA sells all of its products at wholesale to the doctors. The retail price of the products depend on the doctor and the location. For example, a top Beverly Hills surgeon might sell to his affluent customers at a higher price than a suburban dermatologist. Also, the company has spent two years building an e-commerce site where doctors can sell the Mesoestetic line through their own office websites, while Mesoestetic USA take cares of the back-end functions such as shipping and billing. The couple has plenty of competitors in high-priced medical cosmetics. They include AQ Skin Solutions in Mission Viejo, Sircuit Cosmeceuticals Inc. in Glendale and EpiSciences Inc. in Boise, Ida. Brad Masterson, communications manager for the Professional Beauty Association located in Scottsdale, Ariz., said Mesoestetic USA is fortunate because the skincare industry continues to grow. “There has got to be an array of great products and services to offer salons, spas and medical offices,” he said. “You have to have great products, services and education as a distributor.” Double-teaming Bejarano came to the United States from Colombia when he was 9 years old and developed a knack for entrepreneurship early on. At the age of 12 he worked as a newspaper delivery boy, and while in college he started an import-export business in South America. After completing a degree in business administration, his string of businesses included a bagel shop and an engineering services company in the Middle East. While working in Saudi Arabia, Bejarano met Harb through their families. Harb, born in Venezuela, was vacationing in Saudi Arabia after spending time at Rice University studying English. After returning to the U.S. and marrying, they both started looking for jobs. Since they were acquainted with the owner of Mesoestetic they decided to meet with him in Spain and see if the company would be interested in distributing in the U.S. Unfortunately, the owner was not interested in the U.S. market and did not care about expanding. But Bejarano made a deal to distribute in various countries and then got the U.S. territory as part of the deal. Today, the United States is one of its largest markets. The couple financed the fledgling distribution company with family loans, personal savings and credit card debt. Bejarano recalled making his first sale to a physician, a sunscreen for $17.50. He still has not cashed that check, a reminder of his days as a startup distributor. “Once I sold that, I knew I could make it,” he said. The couple manages their life together with a clear distinction between the marriage and the business. Even at the office, Bejarano takes care of sales and marketing while Harb works on accounting and the administration side of the business. “We are respectful of each other’s space,” Harb said.

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