Wendy Avansino was frustrated with paying close to $80 for her favorite skincare cream so she decided to take matters into her own hands.
After watching an episode of the “Oprah Winfrey Show” nearly five years ago, Avansino heard Mehmet Oz, or Dr. Oz has he’s more commonly known, say that healthy skin requires alpha hydroxy acid, which isn’t as expensive as many companies are retailing it for.
“The Nevada dry weather has always been a problem for me,” the Reno resident said. “And it clicked with me that maybe I could invent something.”
After doing some research online, Avansino found a chemist in Texas who made exactly what she wanted. Her product, Alpha-Maximum, was born.
“I found someone who could do it and she said she’ll grow with me as my company grows,” Avansino said. “It was an absolute learning process the whole way. I tried my hardest and never stopped believing in my product.”
Once she started getting positive feedback from friends and family, Avansino approached Scolari’s Food and Drug in Reno to see if it would carry the product.
“I called the health and beauty buyer there who said they weren’t taking any new products but that I could drop off some samples,” Avansino said. “A few days after I dropped off samples, the manager called me and told me his secretary and wife loved my product and that he’d love to meet with me.”
Alpha-Maximum, Avansino said, quickly became a best seller at Scolari’s. She then reached out to Smith’s to see whether it would sell her product. Kroger Co., which owns Smith’s, invited Avansino to its headquarters in Cincinnati to present her product.
“I was there alongside huge companies such as Procter &Gamble, Johnson &Johnson and Garnier,” she said. “When I was asked what company I was with and who was in my company, their mouths dropped when I said it was just me.”
Avansino showed her product sales and how the jars would stack on the shelves to Kroger officials and they agreed to carry Alpha-Maximum in 120 Smith’s stores in seven states, including more than 40 in Southern Nevada. This product hit shelves Aug. 25.
“I’m extremely grateful, especially knowing the competition I was up against,” Avansino said.
“Smith’s carries many local products, and we are excited for local companies to have exposure to thousands of potential customers,” said Marsha Gilford, Smith’s vice president of public affairs. “We wish Wendy every success with her Alpha-Maximum products within Smith’s.”
Christina Delpopolo, nonfoods manager at Smith’s on Maryland Parkway and East Silverado Ranch Boulevard, said larger companies are typically represented at the grocery chain.
“It’s not common at all to have smaller brands represented here and I think it’s great that she thought of something that works for people,” Delpopolo said.
In the future, Avansino said she may add sales staff to her company as Kroger told her it would like to see how Alpha-Maximum does in its stores before possibly debuting the product on the West Coast in stores such as Fred Meyer and Ralphs.
“I’ve had to pinch myself because I was really only asking for it to be in Smith’s,” she said. “It’s been a dream come true.”
Avansino said anyone who has an idea needs to believe in what she’s doing and never give up.
“Don’t let anything stop you, go for it, because you’ll find a way,” she said. “People’s feedback has kept me going and I never get tired of hearing from people. It’s been my passion and it doesn’t feel like work.”
Contact reporter Ann Friedman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4588. Follow @AnnFriedmanRJ on Twitter.