WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Keech Combe Shetty’s grandfather founded Combe Inc. in 1949, and her father, Chris Combe, ran the company for four decades until his retirement in 2014. Now Keech, who is co-chief executive officer with her husband, Akshay Shetty, represents the third generation of the Combe family to manage the business.
Combe Shetty works out of what was once her grandfather’s office, which overlooks the company’s parking lot.
“He would always say that he liked having that office because in the early days, he could see the cars that his people were driving and how they were improving as the company grew and prospered. It really gave him the sense that he was doing right by his people.”
The company still believes in treating its people like family, Combe Shetty says.
“For us, success is really doing the right thing by our consumers, our customers and our employees,” she remarks. “It’s all about relationships and people.”
Innovation is another cornerstone of the business, which is now focused primarily on the men’s grooming and women’s health categories. The company’s approach is built on “an obsession about the products, the experience and finding true solutions for our consumers,” Combe Shetty says, adding that the company’s recent product launches live up to that mission.
Two years ago, for example, Combe launched Just for Men Control GX, a shampoo formulated to let consumers reduce the gray in their hair gradually, the same way it became gray in the first place. That product is still doing a great job of growing the overall men’s grooming category for the company, Combe Shetty says.
Another new launch is Vagisil Scentsitive Scents.
“These products have all the great benefits and efficacy of Vagisil washes — including pH balance, no harsh ingredients or preservatives — but they addressed a need for those women who may have a sensitivity to fragrance but still want a cleansing experience with a ‘safe scent.’ ” They are available in White Jasmine and Peach Blossom scents, and they are racing out of the gate, Combe Shetty says.
The newest product launch is a passion project of Combe Shetty’s, an emergency contraceptive sold under the Vagisil brand. Called Preventeza, it is the product of Combe Shetty’s interest in bringing education and empowerment to women around intimate health.
“In our research with Preventeza, we found out that about 50% of women may need to use an emergency contraceptive at some point in their life, but only 10% actually do,” Combe Shetty says. “A lot of that stems from misinformation, confusion, and shame and taboo around the segment. So the goal with the launch of Preventeza is to completely shift the conversation and turn it around and empower women and educate them so they are prepared and in control in case they have a condom break or they forgot to take a pill or whatever.
“Having Preventeza on hand would take the stress out of a potentially stressful situation, and be part of their sexual wellness arsenal.”