Shenzhen, China - view from my office this spring
No, I’m not going back to Boston. That’s right---I’m going back to China.
Why? You might ask.
As you may or may not know, Wink—the formulation itself—is manufactured from start to finish in the United States. We source our ingredients within the states, we formulate in a lab in Texas, and we fill the bottles in a lab in New Jersey, where the bottles are then placed in the boxes with the instructions, and shipped to Indiana, where we fulfill orders from.
When I started Wink—the company—in the summer of 2013, I tried to source our packaging within the United States. I was on the phone with supplier after supplier, all of whom quoted prices and quantities way too high to make Wink even feasible as a company (I did fund Wink with savings bonds from my grandparents, after all). Then, one day, a sales rep at the most prestigious cosmetic packaging company in the U.S. slipped it “Well, any order you make we’d have to coordinate with our factory in China.”
“You don’t make the products here in the U.S.?”
“Oh no, nobody does.”
Not only was nobody else getting their packaging made in the U.S., but it was in fact, impossible to do so. Sourcing through a U.S. company was a just a really expensive route to China.
So I decided to do it myself.
I immediately began searching online for Chinese suppliers. All of the sudden, we were talking 1,000 unit order minimums instead of 10,000. My money was stretching further and further. Wink might actually be feasible as a company. But not quite. My funds were extremely limited.
Then, one day, I found a supplier desperate enough to sell me just 500 units. Between the 500 bottles and boxes, I could just barely do it. I had $6 left in my bank account that day.
Then, as most of you know, my local newspaper, the Bedford Times Mail, wrote a story about Wink. The Indianapolis Star picked it up through the AP, and the rest is history.
So why am I going to China?
As most of you also know, we’ve had several problems with our packaging here at Wink. Okay, maybe that’s an understatement. We’ve changed bottles 3 times in 2 years.
v1, v2, v3 bottles
The first bottle, I liked, but vendors told me it wasn’t quite “on par” aesthetically. It’s original purpose was for teeth whitening serum, funny enough (not that any teeth whitening serum ever TOUCHED the bottles, so don’t worry). Actually, I loved it, but many users complained about how easy it was to get the tip dirty. I agree, it was easy to get it dirty.. and it wasn’t beautiful. So we changed it.
The second bottle was cute, but I quickly found more issues: the thin brush tip slipped out within the first 4-6 weeks of use. Why? The formulation was causing the brushes to fall out. They told me to change the formulation. I said ...yeah, that’s not happening. So we found different tips for the interim, and began testing new packaging immediately. The new tips were hard, and still occasionally fell out.
There was one other—in my opinion LARGE—issue: the brush was too precise. Most consumers were not using enough product to get the intended effect. Although you feel like you're deriving more value from the product, if you're not achieving the intended effect from underuse, then you're actually deriving less value. I knew we had to go back to a packaging closer to our original.
The current packaging is based off a product I adore—Touche Éclat by Yves Saint Laurent. The brush tip is so soft, the packaging is so sleek, and it applies just the right amount. I was in heaven.
Testing went perfectly: we tested about a dozen bottles for consistency, we put the product in the bottles to test application and dirt accumulation, and we tested product inside the bottles for stability testing in the lab.
Unfortunately, even with your best crash dummy testing, sometimes things just go wrong.
I have to say, I am still very happy with the packaging, so V1 or V2 lovers—I apologize, your favorite version is not coming back.
So why am I going to China?
I have received a few emails about the packaging—which I take very seriously—about a few issues:
- The pen, once started, sometimes leaks into the caps
- The chamber does not always release product consistently
Which means, most importantly:
- The product is not always lasting it’s intended 3 months
I have been testing the product all summer, to figure out best use tips and possible reasons for these issues. I’m sure a few of you would cry at what I call the “Wink graveyard”—bottles clicked from start to finish in the name of testing, without ever being used.
I have narrowed it down to a few different reasons why we could be experiencing these issues, so now, I am going to China to resolve the problem.
I will be on the factory floor, working with the manufacturers, testing the product, until we have a beautiful, consistent, leak-free product that lasts as long as I promise and is quality that I promise.
Actually, I am pretty sure I know how to resolve the issues. It will be tricky to communicate the issues and solutions, but luckily, after my first time around in China, my Mandarin is now factory-worthy, and I have quite a few friends and allies in China to help me during my time there, to make sure everything runs smoothly.
This is not to be taken lightly, and it is not a quick process. For now, I plan on being in China for 5 months. I need to resolve the issues, even find a new factory if necessary, and the process shouldn’t be rushed. Afterwards, I will use the product myself for 3 months to ensure that we don’t miss anything in the process.
So that is why I am going to China.
Bye bye, beautiful Wink office
Alright, now, you might be wondering: so what do we do in the mean time?
Do not worry.
I have always stood behind the quality of my product, and I always will.
An important note from a Chinese friend: "Never give up on something that you can't go a day without thinking about."
If your product is not lasting the full 3 months, please contact me, and I will replace it. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org . I will answer you, and I will ship a new one to you today, for free. Do not hesitate to ask—it’s not even an ask—I am begging you: please give me the chance to deliver you what I promised.
And—I shouldn’t even have to remind you, but I will—you know that there is always a money back guarantee on the product. It’s a natural product and I intend to keep it that way. Everyone’s body works a little differently. We all know that. As such, the product will not work for 100% of the population. I’ve done the best I can with the formulation. If it doesn’t work for you, contact me, and I’ll refund your money. It’s always been our policy and always will be.
I’m here to help give lush lashes and brows. That’s all. As long as we can stay in business, I’ll still be here doing just that.
But for now, I’ll be in China doing it.
Back to this craziness.. ...;)
Nothing else changes—I’ll carry on as normal (and fulfillment is staying here in Indiana)—but I’ll just be a few timezones away answering your questions :)
Love you all