An Interview With Mink CEO Grace Choi, Who’s Taking On The $55 Billion Beauty Industry With A 3D Makeup Printer

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Though it was Vurb that took home the winning “Cup” from the Disrupt NY 2014 Startup Battlefield competition, there’s no question that Mink is the company that hit the biggest nerve this past week with a mainstream audience.

Mink, a personal 3D printer for making custom cosmetics, is such a strikingly clever yet simple idea, just like the greatest products and modern art — something that seems so simple that you wonder why you didn’t come up with it yourself. The Mink (which is currently in early prototype form) is a $300 device that will purportedly let anyone create completely customized makeup shades any time they want, from the comfort of their own home. In a world where an eyeshadow compact can cost anywhere from $5 to $78 a pop and color trends change each season, the Mink is a pretty disruptive thing.

So on the sidelines of the Disrupt NY conference yesterday, I pulled aside Mink’s founder Grace Choi to get a closer look at the Mink and ask her a bit more about the device and what inspired her to create it.

At the moment, Mink is a one woman band, with Choi as the sole founder and employee. So while she tells me she’s already retained an intellectual property law firm and filed patents around Mink’s technology, there are a lot of things she is currently holding close to the chest. The cosmetics industry is worth $55 billion and dominated by very powerful incumbents, so Choi’s reticence is understandable in a lot of ways. I would have loved to have gotten a deeper dive into the hardware and materials in this interview, and we’ll work to get more details as soon as we can.

That said, it was still a big pleasure to talk with Choi and hear about the ultimate vision behind the Mink and how she hopes to positively influence young womens’ perceptions of themselves and their personal tastes. In person, Choi’s passions for entrepreneurship, hardware creation, and creating a new kind of cosmetics industry are palpable. You can watch our chat in the video above.