Shenzhen, China – Thriving On The BuzzAs an MIT student, Megan Cox created a product to enhance eyelash and eyebrow growth and sold it online. She had a taste of success, but there was a problem: The product’s dispensers didn’t work right, causing users to lose too much of the valuable liquid.
U.S. packagers required minimum orders of 25,000, so she tried several Chinese companies listed on Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant. But none worked out. “I was losing customers left and right,” she said.
Determined to solve the problem, she moved alone to Shenzhen, China after graduation. She didn’t speak the language and knew no manufacturers.
“I had no clue where to start,” she conceded. Again, she turned to Alibaba as a source for companies that could make her product. This time, she received packaging samples in a day or so instead of weeks, saving her valuable time. She was on the right track. She then tested products, visited factories and identified a company that worked for her.
But instead of signing a contract and booking the next flight back to the States, she decided to stay and run her business, Amalie, from China. The energy of the place fed her entrepreneurial spirit.
“It’s like a giant playground there — everything is moving and buzzing and complex. I felt I was meant to stay for a while,” she explained.
She made business connections; learned to speak, read and write Mandarin; and created more beauty products. Major brands in the U.S began asking her for help with packaging and quality control in China. Out of that came a new business, Genie Supply.
Genie began consuming most of Cox’s time. In March, after three years in China, she sold Amalie and moved back to the U.S., where she opened her own manufacturing facility, working with partners she met in China to produce beauty products for other companies.
For Cox, living in China opened doors to unique opportunities. Learning the language and understanding the culture facilitated business deals that couldn’t have happened a continent away. In her view, the possibilities there are endless.
“If you don’t work well with a manufacturer, keep looking,” she advised. “There are thousands to choose from.”