Locally producing natural cosmetics


In a little store, located in the Simpson Bay commercial area in front of the cinema, the 80 variations of St Maarten Nectar are presented in a fragrance of vaporized citronella. Consisting of a manager and four employees, the company, composed exclusively of women, also welcomes men. ”There was a boy in the team before, but he left to become a dancer on Broadway” explained Nalia Muriel, the founder, and director of the brand. Candice, one of the employees, is in charge of the labeling in the back of the store while her colleagues are calmly busy upstairs in the laboratory while donning their bonnets.

Founded in July 2010, the brand is present in most of the pharmacies on both sides of the island as well as in the shops of some hotels. The leading product was the first one that they created: the mosquito repellent (Bug 0%), which also exists for children (Baby Bug 0%). After the sunscreens and body care and air fresheners (and insect repellants) for the home, St Maarten Nectar launched a new range of face care products at the end of 2014, which was a huge success. ”They are now our two bestselling products” pointed out the young CEO. The market of this small business extends over ten islands of the Caribbean (St Barth, Anguilla, Saba, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guyana, St Kitts & Nevis…) and is recently present in Charlotte (North Carolina). Sales are also done via the website”We receive between two and four orders a week of which 90% come from the US, and also Europe and even Asia,” said Nalia whose generous smile reveals her benevolence.


Born in Zaragoza, she left to work in Barcelona for a Dutch company after completing her studies in human resources. She was then transferred to the Netherlands where she learned Dutch. Tired of the climate (among other things), she moved to Saint-Martin in 2003, where she learned French by watching TV. Upon arriving on the island, she was confronted with a big problem : ”I had to use repellent and moisturize my skin every day. And I couldn’t find anything that was both effective and non-aggressive”. She then started making her own lotions in her kitchen. Very quickly, she also supplied her friends and followed specialized training courses by correspondence.

Artisanal, her business started by word of mouth. Since then, the whole process has become strictly regulated. The St Maarten Ministry of Health has tested the ingredients and controlled the labels. The company also respects the European standards as well as those of the FDA. With respect to the Bug 0% range (adults and children), it is prescribed by doctors in the island hospitals and Guadeloupe. A success which is partly due to the lack of local production, but surely also to a modern demand: offer products that are as natural as possible. "Most of the cosmetics that we find on the market have about twenty  ingredients that we can’t pronounce and which are unnecessary. Ours contain seven at the most.” Nalia looks for most of the ingredients directly from the source: The argan oil comes from Morocco, tea tree is from Australia and she imports the coconut, aloe and avocado oils from California. In the end, her goal is to produce these oils on the island ”for us and for the others”.


With her environmentally friendly products, St Maarten Nectar is committed to sustainable development. The laboratory receives visits every week from both tourists and schools. ”It’s very important for me to show children that we can produce on the island because they often think that they have to leave in order to succeed.” Given the alarming proliferation of the virus, Nalia Muriel has decided to launch a prevention campaign against the Zika virus in the Dutch side schools. ”Here, children grow up with mosquitoes and don’t see the need to protect themselves We always begin by asking them which animal is the most dangerous. And they are very surprised to learn that it’s the mosquito. Interventions in the schools, donations of essential oil diffusers, impressions of posters… St. Maarten Nectar hopes to continue this campaign and is waiting for a response from its government to see if it intends to support its actions. "We started this project because we believe that it’s a matter of public health."

Fanny Fontan