Posted on August 17, 2016

Tat Towels Featured In Chicago Tribune’s Business Section

Written By Body Wipe Company

2000px-Chicago_Tribune_logo Tat Towels brings wipes to a new place: your body art Cheryl V. Jackson Blue Sky Innovation Where will the body wipe go next? One Chicago-area company is aiming its product at a new area: tattoo care. Tat Towels is among the latest offerings from the Mundelein-based Body Wipe Company, which launched in 2010 with the Paper Shower, a package of dual wet and dry paper towels used to freshen up in lieu of showering. Founder Jim Bahcall, a dentist and cyclist, said he got that idea while using paper towels in a men's room to dry off from the moist towelettes he used after a ride. He started the company in the basement of his Buffalo Grove home, and he and early investors soon decided to add other sorts of personal care wipes. Euromonitor puts the U.S. market for personal wipes, including general purpose, baby, feminine hygiene and cosmetic wipes, at $2.2 billion a year. Chicago-based Dude Wipes is among the many companies vying for pieces of the market. Body Wipe has gotten an infusion of energy and money from Joel Saban, previously an executive in finance and operations at CVS Health and pharmacy benefit management company Catamaran. "I retired from UnitedHealth not knowing what I was going to do," Saban said. Linking with Bahcall — their wives were friends — seemed a good move. He joined the company in January as its sole full-time employee, seeing an opportunity to take a company to the next level and step away from health care. "The wipe business is growing exponentially. I saw an opportunity," he said. "There's no dominant player in the personal care wipe business. There are some companies that have just one or two different types of wipes." In all, four investors including Bahcall and Saban have put about $250,000 into the venture so far. In recent months, they've opened a warehouse and contracted with sales representatives to seek shelf space in brick-and-mortar stores. "We're working hard, looking at new opportunities and not being afraid to take risks," Saban said. The company plans to supplement a lineup of innovative products with their versions of more common types of wipes. Paper Shower sales occur mostly during the summer, and retailers prefer to work with companies that offer multiple items, he said. "We want to create a one-stop shop for people who are looking for personal care wipes," Saban said. The company has followed the original Paper Shower with other variations: the Paper Bidet women's bathroom wipe, the tattoo wipes and a makeup remover wipe. "It's very difficult to come up with innovative products," Bahcall said. "We also looked at products we thought we could make better." The company says single-use Tat Towels — quick-drying, 7-by-10-inch wipes infused with vitamins and minerals from fruit and plant extracts — make the body art more vivid by moisturizing the surface of the skin, boosting the color and definition of the tattoo just under the top layer. A canister of 40 wipes is $7.95 at, or A 12-pack of individually packed, larger wipes sells for $6.95. Americans spend $1.6 billion annually to get tattoos — more than than 45 million Americans, or about 40 percent of 26- to 40-year-olds, have at least one, according to the Pew Research Center. Folks typically turn to petroleum jelly, lotion or baby oil to moisturize their tattoos, Bahcall said. While Tat Towels' makers tout convenience and less mess, it isn't necessarily better than moisturizing with regular lotion, said Gifford Kasen, owner of Logan Square Tattoo. He said the brightening effect can be achieved by shaving the area to remove hair and dead skin that can dull the look of a tattoo. Bahcall said he expects some resistance from those in the tattoo community who are leery of new products. But he added that the product is designed for the masses, and he thinks they'll find the wipe format appealing. "We're able to achieve the same thing without the greasy aspect of mineral oil and lotion," he said. "We look at this as a better way. Putting this formulation into a wipe is an easier, more efficient way to do it." Cheryl V. Jackson is a freelance writer. Twitter @cherylvjackson Copyright © 2016, Chicago Tribune