Graftobian Makeup Co. builds global ties
In 1978, Gene and Evelyn Coffman started producing makeup in their Madison home. Their business, Graftobian Makeup Co., moved out of the house in 1981 and the company quickly discovered the value of exporting.
Starting in the early 1980s, Graftobian began selling products internationally. But it wasn’t until the last decade, with help from WEDC, that Graftobian’s exports greatly expanded and helped the company grow and succeed in new markets globally.
Today, the company produces approximately 2,500 products.
Graftobian manufactures and distributes virtually every type of makeup. They include DISGUISE STIX® face-painting makeup; color and glitter hairsprays and gels; Graftobian Theatrical® Make-Up and accessories for stage, TV, film, special effects and other uses; and, most recently, Graftobian Ultra HD Glamour Make-Up, a high-definition makeup for TV, film and print media beauty and fashion work.
“We believe in our hearts that the best products in the world are made here in America,” says Eric Coffman, Graftobian’s president and the son of the company’s founders. “We know that no low-cost overseas factory could ever produce the same quality as we can ourselves.”
Global markets help Graftobian thrive
The company has become adept at tapping the promise of international markets and has crafted exporting relationships in Latin America, the Middle East, Europe, Australia, Africa, Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, South Korea, and beyond.
Those ties have enabled Graftobian to ship about 30% of its products overseas.
Graftobian regularly takes advantage of WEDC Global Trade Ventures, both in person and virtually. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it developed a two-camera 4K videoconferencing system for conducting more effective virtual meetings and product demonstrations.
Its efforts were recognized in 2022, when Graftobian was named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Wisconsin Small Business Exporter of the Year.
Coffman has urged other businesses to get involved with exporting and has produced a how-to video on exporting.
“Good exposure internationally is always great for the company,” says Robert Chantigian, the company’s production manager and Coffman’s son-in-law.
Graftobian’s success in international markets was also recognized with a Wisconsin Governor’s Export Achievement Award in 2022.
Success helps fuel Wisconsin expansion
In 2022, the company was also able to consolidate its operations in a new 10,400-square-foot building adjacent to its headquarters, warehouse, and packaging and distribution center. Previously, Graftobian also operated in a facility in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Since consolidating its operations in Wisconsin, Chantigian said the company now has greater production capacity than ever before, plus more warehousing space. It also allows for faster production times, quicker fulfillment, and new and improved spaces for research and development. In addition, the expansion will enable Graftobian’s workforce to grow from 14 to about 40.
“Now, we’re going to be able to have a couple of people dedicated to making products for those international orders,” Chantigian said.
The new facility also brings employees together, improving communication and the ability to manage special orders quickly and without shipping hassles.
“We have the family spirit,” said Chantigian. “It’s that extra level of investment that drives the quality of the product.”