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The story behind the success of GT Cosmetics

Cebu City, Philippines — The rags-to-riches story of Leonora Salvane is a lesson on deep faith in the Almighty, perseverance, humility, and optimism.

Salvane built her soap-making business with an initial capital of P500 in 1994. Now, GT (God’s Talent) Cosmetics Manufacturing Inc. is raking in approximately P25 million in revenues a month.

Leonora Salvane answers questions from CDN Digital during their interview at Italianni’s at Ayala Center Cebu

Leonora Salvane credits the success of GT Cosmetics to her deep faith in the Almighty, proving that God will bless an  honest labor.

A graduate of chemical engineering of the University of San Carlos (USC) in 1977, Salvanes had several jobs for more than 12 years before venturing on her own.

“I was so used to the corporate life (but) I felt I was missing something from my profession; that there was something bigger out there for me to accomplish,” said Salvane.

In 1990, she deciding to leave the corporate world and go full-time as an entrepreneur.

Salvane  had experienced working in sales and marketing, selling laboratory equipment and pneumatics parts and products of an American-owned company.

The aggressive competition in sales and marketing tested her patience and wit. But it also taught her to strategies on how to break into the market and beat competitors to win and close deals.

“I recalled that I had to outsmart my competitors in many ways, you have to do what you’ve got to get that deal,” says Salvane.

By the time she realized that the environment no longer made her happy, she asked for God’s divine intervention. And He blessed her with the grace to run her own business.

Answered Prayers

“Ganahan ko mag business na mo honor sa Ginoo. He answered my prayers,” says Salvane.

(I wanted to put up a business that would honor God.)

“The feeling was like hitting two birds with one stone,” she adds.

During the early 1990’s Salvane met Raphael Ibarra, a small and medium enterprise development advocate based in Cebu who introduced her to soap making.

“He approached me and introduced me to a business that made me use my knowledge in college,” she recalls.

“He asked me if I would like to venture into cosmetics?” she recalls, noting that there were only a few players in the local cosmetics industry at that time, which gave her the market edge.

With only P500 as capital, Salvane made herbal soaps and astringents under Ibarra’s wings, which she gave out to her friends for them to try.

Word of mouth

“My friends like it and asked if I could produce more,” she remembers.

It was through word of mouth of satisfied customers that her business flourished.

Two years after, Salvane started seeing results of her hard and honest labor and poured all her time in growing GT Cosmetics.

Since then, sales shot up and invitations by retailers to have products in their retail racks continued to pour in.

“We first started with Gaisano stores before we expanded to other retail stores and expanded our products,” said Salvane.

The company’s product line now include soaps, toner, creams, lotions and a makeup line, and are now present in leading grocery and specialty chains, like Watsons and pharmacies.


In 2011, the company opened its production plant in Marilao, Bulacan to serve the Luzon requirement.

GT maintains a plant in Tayud, Liloan that is certified by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) and Halal and is also accredited by the International Organization for Standardization.

The company’s production ecosystem follows that association of Southeast Asian National (ASEAN) Directive, an agreement on the Asean Harmonized Cosmetic Regulatory Scheme.

Salvane’s business empire still continues to grow.

Besides a cosmetics company, GT has diversified into the education and hospitality sectors has now over 300 people in its work force.

Now, as the company is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Salvane hopes that they will continue to stay true to their core values of integrity, commitment, respect, and excellence.

“Now, as my sons and daughters handle the company, (with) me overseeing (operations), my only wish is to stay true to our values as we continue to grow,” says Salvane.

TAGS: GT Cosmetics
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