The challenges of turning a concept into reality
include creating a logo and eye catching packaging,
getting mass distribution, launching advertising with a
small budget and educating consumers. Companies
really have to bend over backwards to get their novelty into consumers’ hands.
Household & Personal Care Wipes sat down with
several wipes innovators to uncover just how challenging and rewarding it is to bring new niche wipes
Finding a Manufacturer
One of the formidable challenges of bringing a niche
wipe to market is finding a manufacturer who has
expertise in dealing with a particular application.
Donna Azarian, founder of Pan’s Best Friend, had
no trouble coming up with the idea for a niche wipe,
but finding the right manufacturer was no easy task.
When she found herself unemployed after 23 years,
Ms. Azarian also found herself cooking more of her
family’s meals. A Weight Watchers’ devotee, Ms.
Azarian reached for a paper towel to sop up the
excess oil on her pan to save calories. When she realized she was out of paper towels, a light bulb went off:
a low calorie, oil impregnated wipe could do the trick.
“I drew some diagrams and brought them to a
patent attorney in Minnesota and began searching for
a wipes manufacturer who could produce food grade
wipes. One of the bumps in the road was that I found
a manufacturer who said he could make the product.
I wanted GP airtex grade to be used as the substrate
for my wipe. The company had something similar but
they couldn’t confirm that it was food grade. I had to
go back to square one and find another manufacturer,” said Ms. Azarian.
Ms. Azarian explained that it is challenging to find
a manufacturer that will take on a new vendor and
she found that unless you use a fabric vendor that a
converter is already doing business with, they will not
take you on as a client. Another obstacle she faced
was meeting the minimum fabric orders required by
fabric companies who have to sell the converter a
certain amount of fabric to be profitable. “Since this
is a new product, we are not at the level of the big
wipes companies in purchasing fabric. Luckily, after
much searching, I have found a company that is flexible in its minimums so I can get this product produced,” she said.
When Dana Rubinstein, co-founder of Dapple Baby
Wipes, decided to expand her business from a liquid
cleaning product offering to a wipe that was safe to use
for kid’s toys, she was also confronted with the chal-
lenge of finding a manufacturer. In 2008, Ms.
Rubinstein and her partner launched a dish liquid for
washing baby bottles. “We wanted a natural way of get-
ting rid of the odor from milk. There was a really strong
demand for it in toy stores and baby stores. One of the
things we kept hearing over and over again was ‘my
baby constantly drops toys on the floor and we don’t
want to use harsh chemicals on them.’ But our manu-
facturer was not capable of manufacturing wipes. We
were using a similar formula for liquids but we had to
find someone with that expertise,” said Ms. Rubinstein.
The Right Nonwoven
Choosing a nonwoven is another challenge that can
cause wipes’ entrepreneurs to lose sleep. So how do
you choose a substrate?
James Esposito, principal of RPM Technology
overcame this hurdle for Polywipes, a nonwoven fabric impregnated with a unique non-toxic aqueous
solution designed to remove uncured or partly cured
adhesives and sealants.
Polywipes were introduced and developed in the
U.K. and brought to the U.S. in 2003. The company
tried numerous nonwovens in the U.S. but found that
they were too smooth. The company found a
polypropylene viscose blend from the U.K. that has little fibers sticking up out of it for removing a gooey
sticky adhesive. “It technically increases the surface
area of our towelette, so not only is our towelette
slightly perforated, it also has these little fibers sticking up. Coupled with the detergent package that helps
the silicone transfer to the towelette because the silicone will have a higher affinity for the towelette,” said
Mr. Esposito also found the minimum orders that
the U.S. converters required to be an obstacle.
When faced with the challenge of finding a nonwoven Little Busy Bodies, makers of Boogie Wipes saline
nose wipes for kids and Achooz saline nose wipes for
adults, selected a polyester rayon blend spunlaced
nonwoven because it was soft and durable.
Julie Pickens, Little Busy Bodies’ CEO said,” You
can’t really pull it apart. Cotton tends to stick on you
(your skin) so we didn’t go with cotton. We examined