The coronavirus pandemic has spurred new hygiene protocols, including an uptick in people wearing face masks for prolonged periods, which can cause skin irritation and bruising.
Customers started contacting Lenexa-based MedZone, asking whether its anti-chafing products could be used on the face.
"When we saw that there was really nothing in the marketplace that was an all-natural, gentle solution, we went to work quickly," MedZone CEO Joe Freeman told the Kansas City Business Journal.
Within three weeks, MedZone developed and launched Face Balm, a skin lubricant that creates a friction barrier to reduce irritation. It features ingredients such as shea butter, sweet almond oil, avocado and olive oil. In addition to the face, it's also ideal for behind the ears, where elastic bands can rub.
MedZone was able to expedite the launch because of its business relationships and the expertise it has built through the years, Freeman said. The sports medicine company was founded in 2001 and has continued to expand its product lineup. Its products can be used to prevent chafing, rubbing and blisters and also can be used for pain relief and cleaning wounds. One of its retail partners, Walmart, now carries seven of its products.
Earlier this year, MedZone expedited the launch of a hygiene line that it began devising in 2019. The line originally was designed to complement a sports and fitness line, but the pandemic created explosive demand. Since January, sales for the hand sanitizer products have tripled month over month, and sometimes week over week, he said. MedZone plans to continue adding new products to the hygiene line.
With Face Balm, Freeman sees market opportunity well beyond medical professionals. He's talking to national retailers, hardware stores and beauty supply stores about carrying the line. Other potential targets include sporting goods companies and pharmacies. So far, retailer interest is "very strong."
Medical professionals aren't the only ones regularly wearing face masks. There also are construction workers, beauticians and the general public.
"We're really excited about having a product that can definitely help a lot of people," he said.
Face Balm launched this week and is available on MedZone's website. Freeman credited his employees and the company's solid business relationships for making the product a reality in a tight time frame. With suppliers and manufacturers, it's not always about getting the best price. It's about relationships, he said. For example, Tabco Inc., based in Kansas City, Kan., printed the product labels and whittled a three-to-four-week job into a week.
MedZone's employees worked weekends and late nights to develop the formula, package design and a new tagline that complements the company's existing theme.
"That's the kind of stuff that as a business owner you're so proud of," he said. '"They were able to pivot, and they were able to execute. … They were putting things aside to make this happen, and that positions us for success in the future."