Meet Mink: A desktop printer that prints makeup. Like, literal makeup… that you can use and put on your face. It’s an invention by Harvard Business School graduate Grace Choi, who told TechCrunch she wants to take out the middleman markups served to consumers by high-end cosmetic companies.
Choi introduced her invention this week at TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY conference. She said the idea came to her while exploring the cosmetics industry, when she noticed that consumers were forced to shell out more cash for unique options when it comes to beauty.
“Volume discounts drive the mass [retailer] price points, so they can only select colors that are going to sell out in mass volumes,’’ she explained. “So if you want the cool niche colors, you have to go to — Sephora, but who likes paying for expensive Sephora prices? No one. That’s who.’’
That’s when Mink comes into play. As unbelievable as it sounds, it’s exactly what it sounds like: It’s a printer that prints custom makeup pigments on demand. That’s where Choi reels the Disrupt NY audience in, “It gives you the selection of prestige, and combines it with the convenience of mass. As a matter of fact, I’m beating the selection of prestige, because I’m giving you the selection of the internet. And I’m beating the convenience of mass, because I’m giving you the convenience of your own freaking house.’’
To create makeup using Mink, consumers use color picker to grab the Hex code of a shade they’d like to recreate. Click print and within minutes a real life beauty product pops out! Choi created an eyeshadow for the demonstration, but she noted lipsticks, creams, foundations, and other items can also be made.
But what is this trickery?? Is it just an elaborate prank to tug at the heartstrings of beauty junkies worldwide? Not really. It’s real. In fact, it’s almost too real.
Choi explained that “just like an ink-jet printer, you just need substrates and ink, both of which are FDA-compliant and come from the same exact sources as those of trusted brands.’’ The pricepoint of the printer will launch at about $300 and the ink and substrates will be “accessible.’’ The demographic Mink is going after is young (13-21), so we expect to see the brand stay on track with affordable prices. What this will reflect in the quality has yet to be seen, but when Choi dusted her hot pink eyeshadow, fresh off the printer, on her hand — man, the mind reels!
Mink is set to launch later this year. Sephora, it’s officially time to get nervous.