By Jenna Zigler, OD, FAAO, Co-founder of Eye Love
Five years ago, my husband and I started Eye Love while running two optometry practices. While we were doing well seeing patients every day, we wanted to be able to more easily afford our eye care mission trips we enjoyed participating in each year. We began looking at the products we sold to our patients and wondering, “Why can’t we formulate something similar, under our own brand?”
During this time, we were constantly prescribing a hypochlorous acid product that suddenly jumped in price from $30 per month to $300. We began getting complaints about the price, and it was clear our patients were frustrated. So were we!
TENFOLD INCREASE IN CONSUMER PRICES
Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser was born after a patient came in one day, letting us know that she was tired of paying for the prescription medication. She asked if we could manufacture one. To this day, I’m not sure if she meant this as a joke or not, but we took it to heart.
Not knowing whether or not we could, but interested in the concept, my husband told her we’d get right on it. After researching manufacturers and speaking with them personally to find out if they could manufacture the formula we wanted, we ordered samples. We chose our manufacturer not just because the product was exceptional but also because we loved working with them.
THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY
At this time, we also started a community on Facebook to support dry eye sufferers in their journey. We soon found out that there were thousands of people searching for connection in a group like this. So many of them tell us how they visited their doctor, but they were only given artificial tears that didn’t work. They’ve told us that no one in their life understands what they’re going through, and the Dry Eye Syndrome Support Community is like a family to them. They began asking us for information about their disease, information that they weren’t getting elsewhere, and within a few years, Eye Love and Heyedrate became our full time jobs.
Our mission is to help heal 1,000,000 dry eye sufferers naturally, and we do this through education and the effective yet affordable products we offer. Because we had a large group of people who were craving information and better products, validation of whether or not our products worked was simple. We sold our products both to patients in our offices and online, and most were incredibly happy that they were getting affordable, effective products.
EXPANDING THE LINE
To expand our product line, we simply asked the community what they were looking for. Our Heyedrate line of products (as well as the addition of a company we recently acquired, MediViz) now includes all forms of eyelid cleansers. We also have an oil-based eye makeup remover, a tea tree foaming face wash and tea tree body soap, warm compress eye masks, and a small line of supplements.
With each launch of a new product, not only are we taking into account what our community wants, but we’re looking at the ingredients in our products. If we can improve on them, we will do so. We’re continually researching and learning more about how we can best serve those with dry eye disease.
A BIGGER VISION
I mentioned earlier how important eye care mission trips are to us. Even when we were growing two practices, buried in student loan debt, we found the money and the time to travel to other countries to help those in need. Once Eye Love and Heyedrate began to grow, we started the Eye Love Cares Foundation.
With every product we sell, we give a portion of the profits back to our foundation. Each year, we provide no-cost eye care, education, and medical supplies to those who need it most. We also give back to The Ohio State University College of Optometry, knowing that we’re making a difference in the lives of future optometrists. We’re able to fulfill our love for mission work and helping others, but we’re now able to contribute more easily and more quickly than we ever thought possible.
Our journey the last few years has been incredibly unpredictable compared to the life I thought I was going to live, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Have we experienced set-backs and opposition? Absolutely. But that isn’t going to stop us from serving a community of people we care for.
The biggest lesson we’ve learned through running our business is that when we focus on giving and providing value for others, everything falls into place. When you truly love what you do, and you can help others in the process, life becomes just a little bit sweeter.
About the author: Dr. Zigler and her husband, Travis Zigler, OD, use the profits from Eye Love to fund free and low cost clinics in Jamaica and in the U.S. They do this through their charity, the Eye Love Cares Foundation, which also provides exams, eyeglasses and sunglasses for those in need, free education and scholarships for students who align with their mission.