Dare To Dream: A Product Development Tale
How a prominent dermatologist became an HSN sensation. (And how you can, too!)
Steven Q. Wang, MD didn’t set out to be an award-winning entrepreneur with a sell-out product on the Home Shopping Network (HSN). Like most dermatologists, Dr. Wang, director of dermatologic surgery and dermatology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, NJ, simply wanted to help his patients and their families by safely putting the brakes on one of the most common skin disorders—eczema.
Through the years, he had heard and read enough about the healing powers of Chinese herbs to become curious about their role in soothing inflamed skin. His father, Gui T. Wang, LAC, Founder and Director of The New York Acupuncture Center, in New York City, was all too happy to satisfy his son’s curiosity by providing tons of research on many of the herbs commonly used in Eastern medicine.
It was then and there that the father son duo really rolled up their sleeves. They began to experiment with herbs, and eventually came up with a winning, purple combination. Three years later, Dr. Wang’s Herbal Skincare Eczema Ointment Natural Calming Moisturizer became a reality, and likely the flagship product in what will become a robust product line.
And then something even cooler happened.
Good Housekeeping partnered with HSN’s American Dreams to find the next great inventor—who would win airtime on HSN, a listing on HSN.com, a piece in Good Housekeeping magazine and its coveted “Seal of Approval” following testing. (For context HSN reaches 96 million homes across the US and Good Housekeeping magazine has more than 25 million readers.) Dr. Wang pitched his skincare formulation to a panel of experts on the show and took home the top honors.
The new ointment contains a mixture of eight proprietary herbs with purported antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, including licorice root, dandelion extract, and peppermint, along with natural oils, vitamin E, shea butter, and ceramides. As important as what is in the ointment is what isn’t in it—namely steroids, mineral oil, petrolatum, and parabens. (The purple color is a big hit with kids, but parents need not panic. It will fade when rubbed in.)
The team conducted a small clinical trial that showed the ointment provided itch relief almost immediately. Dr. Wang even served as N of 1 in his own experiment on a camping trip, when mosquitoes attacked him.
“We think it shuts down inflammation and lets the skin’s barrier heal,” Dr. Wang says.
Admitting that he is not such a savvy marketer, Dr. Wang said he had doubts about the product’s decidedly unsexy name, but this may be part of its charm as potential shoppers know exactly what it is when they see it or hear about it. It certainly seems to be resonating, as Dr. Wang has made many a repeat performance on HSN since his first stint where the product sold out in minutes.
The father-son team are now working on other products to tackle other skin disorders, such as scars, acne, and rosacea.
Are You the Next Dr. Wang?
GH is teaming up with HSN again for the second nationwide hunt for innovations. Entries being accepted through May 31, 2017.