On her second date with the man who would become her husband, Tanya Gill, OD, says she told him that she always wanted to invent something.
That dream coincided with an incident when a patient came to Dr. Gill, extremely unhappy with her current contact lenses. Dr. Gill found a problem with the patient’s story: it wasn’t the lenses, it was the amount of makeup buildup on them. When the patient expressed how difficult it was to find a makeup remover that met her demands: vegan, cruelty-free, perfume-free, gluten-free and the like, Dr. Gill promised to find her a solution. After visiting Whole Foods and finding nothing that fit, Dr. Gill knew the way to get something done was to make it herself, and she knew where she wanted to start.
As a child, she would watch her mother remove her makeup using oils, and Dr. Gill built her product using natural oils such as tea tree, jojoba and grapeseed. While she started by giving away her makeup removing oil, eventually the demand grew so that it was no longer viable to give these products away for free. However, her patients were hooked and unphased by the idea of paying—thus, We Love Eyes was born. The name comes from the tagline of her practice, Oakland Vision Center, located in Oakland, California, and remains emblazoned on her building.
FEELING THE LOVE
The feedback from both patients and her colleagues has been overwhelmingly positive. “It’s been kind of incredible helping people solve problems that they have been frustrated with for years,” she says. “Some days I have a bad day, but then I read an email that says, ‘Where have you been? You changed my life!’”
When it comes to her fellow eye care professionals, the reaction has been equally supportive. “It’s a different type of project,” she says. “It bridges the gap between a traditional looking physician dispensed product and cosmetics you would find at a department store.”
She notes that since she first introduced the product, a major switch has happened in the industry. “When We Love Eyes was first on the scene, optometrists were concerned with how to sell a product that looked like a cosmetic, but since then ODs have embraced that kind of product,” she says. Since Dr. Gill really launched her product in 2017, the industry has transformed, and the aforementioned bridge has gotten stronger. Not only are more ODs comfortable discussing the impact of makeup on ocular health, more options are available that are OD-endorsed, eye-friendly products.
Now, patients can buy the U.S.-made products—which range from foaming eye cleansers to nighttime under-eye creams to cleansing oils with a custom scrub brush and beyond—on the company website, weloveeyes.com, from eye care professionals and at stores like CVS and vegan-/cruelty-free retailers.
In the future, Dr. Gill sees more wholesale retailers wanting to sell We Love Eyes through their own websites. Her focus for the We Love Eyes brand will remain dedicated to cleaning products and will never delve into makeup, she says.
Dr. Gill has found a unique way to serve her patients by solving their problems. “Every single product from We Love Eyes is born from a patient problem presented in the chair,” she says.