Confessions of a Junior Formulator

Today I was asked to make a 5g balm sample for a product that was put into production weeks ago. 

The rationale for this tediously fiddly way to pass my time? 

A new office manager felt it would be cheaper than using a finished product to present as a sample to the general public at one of our bricks and mortar stores 🤦‍♀️. 

The finished product costs sub £1.20 packaged, I am rightly or wrongly slightly more expensive and painfully busy. The paperwork alone… 

I very carefully declined though I’m keen to keep relations warm.  Being only three months into this contract and recently transferred to the cosmetic formulating field my question is…is this normal? Should I say yes to these types of things from HO staff?

If you've got this far and feel like commiserating/providing perspective - what is the weirdest request you have been given while employed as a formulator? 

Comments

  • grapefruit22grapefruit22 Member
    edited July 14
    Sorry to read that. Don't get me wrong, but you have already judged it yourself, and it doesn't matter if you find a lot of descriptions of similar situations about someone having questionable / strange tasks to do.
  • I skipped the point of what I meant - and I meant that even if others would find that strange tasks were okay or that they did it too, you shouldn't be influenced by it and just decide for yourself how you want to act.
  • PattsiPattsi Member
    ... How come it was a weird request.
    I ask the production team to make sample-sized giveaway all the time.

    painfully busy. The paperwork alone… 
    I'm quite speechless. Are you a kid on assignment? Did they abuse your working hour?

    present as a sample to the general public at one of our bricks and mortar stores 🤦‍♀️. 
    In person experience is powerful for new product launch and if that potential customers get a little gift to take home, that's a plus.  

    If my request were to be declined, I would like to hear a proper reason.

    But well I'm not in the production team so you have to wait for other members' thoughts.

  • I believe "it would be cheaper" part could have been painful given how cheap the product is. Especially since it was just one sample, where doing 20 would probably take the same time and then it could be effective and justified. But one sample? They could take one from the shelf. Even if they did want to save money, they could have skipped "it would be cheaper". And since it was the person managing the people, he/she should predict how this might be perceived.

    But again, people may have different opinions, but it's your job and life, so you should trust your intuition and judgment.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    It seems rather ridiculous to ask someone to make a single 5g sample. You can’t even properly weigh that out in most cases. I’ve had to make samples for marketing but typically that would have been done in conjunction with a stability test batch.

    but we are a marketing run industry. These types of things happen to chemists all the time. At my company about once a quarter someone in R&D had to make a special blend of an aftershave product that we didn’t sell but the company owner loved to use. It had to be made exactly the same way every time following a procedure developed in the 1960’s. I just remember having to cold filter the blend to remove some haziness. It took a lot of time & was not part of the regular job responsibilities. But when the owner wants something, you do it.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    What is not normal is that a junior formulator only 3 months into the job does not have the good common sense to prepare a sample at the request of a supervisor from HO.  The office manager is certainly going to remember this when it comes time to consider you for promotion or pay raise.  SMH
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals & Clean Beauty arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program/Clean At Sephora/Credo Clean guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • grapefruit22grapefruit22 Member
    edited July 15
    I don't know why someone can order a 5 g sample, after all, the cost is still ingredients + packaging, which are the same for normal products, or even lower. It just looks like malice.

    I wouldn't make a sample.
  • vitalysvitalys Member
    @CoaJuniorFormulator It looks like you work for another Miranda Priestly (Devil wears Prada (c))  ;) :) 
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Why didn't you just buy a bottle with your own money and filled up 5g? A job done at the speed of superman, if this isn't worthy employee of the month and a pay raise LoL.
  • PattsiPattsi Member
    From the original post context, the brand is UK based, also have bricks and mortar stores model, it'd likely be bigger than micro-sized brand. So I presumed it was hundreds or thousands up pieces.

    The manager might want to see or feel how it look, and so he/she requested 1 piece before proceeding with the plan. It would be lab scale production 100-300 g but only fill a 5 g container, not a 5 g production.

    If it was only a 5 g piece for only 1 store, I also find it ridiculous.

    Perry said:
    but we are a marketing run industry. These types of things happen to chemists all the time. At my company about once a quarter someone in R&D had to make a special blend of an aftershave product that we didn’t sell but the company owner loved to use. It had to be made exactly the same way every time following a procedure developed in the 1960’s. I just remember having to cold filter the blend to remove some haziness. It took a lot of time & was not part of the regular job responsibilities. But when the owner wants something, you do it.
    I have heard. I have never done that, I'm having fun learning and making it myself.

    @CoaJuniorFormulator - Cheer up, life is ahead. You will face weird marketer(s) like me(?) at some point. 

  • Thank you all! I felt rather guilty for having a bit of a wtf moment publicly! Very much appreciate your honestly though! And your experience @Perry ;I wonder if there was a bit of a right of passage getting trusted with ‘the aftershave’ batch?

    For context this is not the only odd situation in this company and the person who asked me to do this was newer than me (staff turnover is keen).

    I feel I represented it honestly - it was indeed 5g of a single product for customer prodding at a single site. Full sized products were in the building. Anyway.

    The other formulator on my team is currently expected to have 5 separate high end emulsions/gels formulated from scratch and put forward for PET in under 2 weeks, which to me seems teeth grittingly tight.  So I think I just needed to know if it was personal or an industry standard. I get the feeling it’s a bit of both- though not personally at me but the concept of formulating in general within the company. 

    @MarkBroussard  I promise I will keep that in mind! I’m not as much as a diva as my post made out I hope but in general quite easy to work with! 

    And @Pharma thank you 😄 that is the most tactful approach to this imaginable - next time!  


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