New product formulation is the funnest part about owning We Love Eyes. It uses a side of my brain that I do not necessarily get to use in the exam room – it's truly a creative process. Nowadays, not only do you have to solve a problem, but the answer has to be marketable, look pretty in a package, and has to be priced right.
THE PROBLEM. Listening to my patient's problems is what starts it all. Sometimes the answer is obvious. Sometimes I loose sleep for a week over it, lol. Here's an easy one. Once, I instructed a patient to do lid scrubs at home. She snapped back with: "I'll do the scrubs like you said, but it would be amazing if there was a miniature sized tooth brush I could use instead of q-tips." 6 months later, my Eyelid Margin Scrub Brush was born.
KITCHEN FORMULATION. To this day, I still start my ideas at home. I have a mini lab which allows me to formulate on the fly. With my research notes, I'll play around with ingredients until I get a formula right. The most challenging part is creating preservative systems that keep a formula safe while respecting the natural flora of the eye. Once I feel confident with a formula, I'll test the formula over time on myself, the husband, optometrist friends, personal friends, and patients.
LAB FORMULATION. Just because I can create a formula in a small batch doesn't mean it can be massed produced. Here's where my formula usually gets edited. I have learned not to take this part too personally, haha. Currently I'm developing a new cleanser for one of my dry eye patients that is allergic to tea tree oil – and I'm on the 4th lab edit. Stay tuned . . .
3PT. This stands for Thirty Party Testing. Once my formula is stamped with approval, it gets sent to several independent labs through a testing obstacle course: preservative efficacy, gluten-free, ocular irritation, allergy, stability, compatibility, shelf life, etc. The most painful thing is when a formula fails and has to be sent back to the drawing board. Not only is it expensive, but it delays product launch date.
THE FINISH LINE. Every time I hold a We Love Eyes product in my hand for the 1st time – it's a surreal feeling. Wow, I actually did THIS?! I remember the journey: the problem I listened to so intently in the exam room; the sleepless nights because I couldn't turn my brain off; the months of testing, waiting, and planning. And I can hear my inside voice say: "fantastic job – you did it."
Love + Healthy Eyes,
Dr Tanya Gill, xo
Dr. Tanya Gill – Optometrist, Founder & CEO