4th January 2023
Location: London & Europe
Welcome to behind the scenes.
Firstly, I want to give you all a warm welcome to the very first Clinic Mate Diary. This is the uncensored space where you get an unfiltered insight into the growth of our company and the inner workings of how it all works – great if you’re looking to see others’ entrepreneurial journey, are a medic looking to start a business or just a voyeur.
Okay, so now for the Face Pen Fiasco…
What the hell happened? Why don’t we have more of the iconic pen still circulating? When can everyone get back to buying them?
All very good questions and one’s we have been desperate to answer, but to truly unravel this mystery we’re going to have to let you in…
Q3 2022 – Some of you may have already been using the original Clinic Mate Face Pens that we had produced in China. Now, they were beautifully designed and worked wonderfully, for the most part, but sometimes the ink would just stop or even worse, LEAK (not something you want on your Balenciaga’s, if you’re still into them). So, we decided to take the production to Europe and find a reputable, trustworthy lab who had produced for a large number of brands…at least we thought…
Oct 2022 – Picture this – me and Hilary are sitting down with 6,000 of our new, metallic, industry trailblazing Face Pens – ready to change everyone’s practice. We’re laughing, smiling, jovially dancing with boxes in our hands like coconuts – we thought we had finally cracked the marking up issue for so many practitioners and we had good reason! In our excitement we shipped many of these premium Face Pens straight to you in a couple days; but the fairy tale was not to last long.
Nov 2022 – We started using these pens in the clinic ourselves and noticed something odd; they were having a little trouble working. Yikes. Maybe “it’s just us” *fingers crossed*. Sadly, we started to hear feedback from some of you that the same issue was happening to you. I don’t think we had ever felt so deflated; our big, eagerly anticipated intervention was faltering in ways we thought we had avoided. *Breathe*. Okay, no big deal, we’ll just speak to the manufacturer and have everything resolved. We proceeded to refund those with faulty Face Pens and assured everyone we’d figure things out…
Present Day – Fast forward a month or so and we are in a LEGAL BATTLE! HUH??! Yup, we went back to our manufacturer, who we won’t name for legal reasons, but they straight up turned around and gave us the middle finger and claimed zero accountability. Unbelievable right? Yup, with all the hard evidence of the issue and our attempt to have it resolved they just stopped responding to us. What’s even crazier, with a little more digging, it turns out this manufacturer has a history of staff exploitation, mistreating of workers and cheating previous customers. 3rd Yup; investigative journalism was definitely not our thing.
But hey, everything should be cool right? We have a contract and service agreement in place? That’s what the London Chamber Of Commerce asked us when we asked them to mediate the resolution. Embarrassingly, not. And I won’t even tell you how many 10s of thousands that mistake set us back; that’s even more embarrassing. However, worse than that was the hit to our emotional health and how much we felt we had let the community down. Thankfully, you guys have never stopped being patient and riding with us.
So what’s the moral of the story? As a practitioner, once you enter into the world of products, it’s easy to be trusting; please DO NOT. Here are our top pieces of advice if you enter the product game:
1. If you’re having large quantities of products manufactured outside of your home country, make the time to visit and meet your future producers. You can learn a lot about them.
2. Never enter ANY agreement without a contract and project/job brief with clear expectations of the product functionality. It will save you a massive headache.
3. You can never spend enough time researching anyone you want to go into an agreement with. Especially if it’s your baby.
I hope you can take something away from this diary entry and it helps you avoid costly errors. As for our Face Pens, we’re still fighting the good fight to bring back the iconic instrument to you all in its full splendour, so watch this space.