To deal with the pain of postpartum mastitis, Janine Mahon drew on her knowledge of Chinese medicine to create a soothing topical salve for herself from herbs and oils.
In the 20 years since she successfully treated her own breast pain, Mahon, a licensed and certified Doctor of Oriental Medicine, refined the product and shared it with clients at her Albuquerque clinic.
When one satisfied patient asked for a dozen bottles of the healing oil to share with friends, Mahon wondered if there might be a larger market beyond her regular clients. Mahon launched Dr. Janine Mahon’s Rejuvenating Breast Oil exclusively through Violet Grey, a high-end retailer with extensive online reach and sales through its Melrose Place store in Los Angeles.
“I went from no product to a dream store launching it,” she said. “Being in Violet Grey led to other places wanting to carry it.”
Mahon needed help meeting increased demand, so she contacted a friend who had helped Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm get its products into retail and foreign markets. The friend recommended that Mahon work with New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (New Mexico MEP), a nonprofit organization that helps businesses transform their operations to increase profitability through lean manufacturing concepts.
Scott Bryant, innovation director for New Mexico MEP, helped Mahon develop a process matrix that tracked manufacturing processes, equipment, materials, and information from order to delivery. The matrix also analyzed bottlenecks and wasteful procedures that could be remedied by combining, eliminating, simplifying, rearranging and standardizing each step in the process.
Bryant, for example, suggested using small beakers to measure liquids instead of pipettes, which measure drip by drip. He also recommended premixing oils in small, standardized containers that are easier to handle and store, reduce the risk of spills and provide visual cues when supplies need to be reordered. He recommended using small hand pumps to transfer oil from large containers to small ones, instead of pouring it.
“I can be more efficient and more productive if I work in small batches,” Mahon said. “It’s so counterintuitive.”
New labeling and batch control techniques were important for selling her product in Europe, as the European Union requires products to be regularly certified by an independent organization to confirm that materials, quality and characteristics are as claimed.
Paris was Mahon’s first European market, followed by Italy and Germany. “That elevated my presence,” she said. “I didn’t have to pitch them. I’ve had people reach out without having to knock on doors.” In October 2021, the breast oil became available in the United Kingdom.
Her success inspired Mahon to commercialize other products from the formulas she had created for patients to restore libido and treat stress. All of her products orient to women’s health. “I saw this void, this need with my patients to connect with themselves,” she said. “Chinese medicine is all about balance.”
Working with New Mexico MEP decreased Mahon’s production time by 60 percent. It also helped her weather unexpected challenges of product manufacturing, as when she had to destroy hundreds of glass jars because a few in the same shipment had broken in transit, potentially compromising product purity.
“This has been such a solo journey,” she said. “Scott offered such a stable resource of expert advice. He gave me the pillar to really feel like I had foundational support. It was really thorough guidance.”
Find Dr. Janine Mahon’s website at drjaninemahon.com. Learn more about New Mexico MEP services at newmexicomep.org.
The Finance New Mexico project connects individuals and businesses with skills and funding resources for their business or idea. To learn more, go to www.FinanceNewMexico.org.