Will Stein was a frustrated mid-level marketing executive with Lufthansa when he decided to pursue his entrepreneurial side. After a couple somewhat successful ventures, he stumbled on Natural Frequency Technology, and Philip Stein watches were born. With the help of Oprah, the watches became a big hit, and now the husband/wife Stein team are expanding the reach of their frequency technology beyond watches to wine wands, bracelets and more with the promise of better sleep and better wine. During the Basel Watch Fair Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief Douglas Gollan caught up with Stein for an energizing conversation.
ET: You just moved from Miami to Zurich. Many people do the reverse.
Will Stein: We decided to move to Europe. I wanted to be close to the business, and we have a 10-year-old son. I wanted him to have a European upbringing. Living outside Zurich we can go hiking, mountain climbing and skiing. In Miami the kids want to stay inside and play video games.
ET: How’s the show been so far?
Will Stein: We just opened Sweden. It is with a very successful Swedish businessman. He was having trouble sleeping, and he bought a Philip Stein sleep bracelet. He was so happy he contacted us and he is now our distributor. That is typical of how it works for us.
ET: What was your background before Philip Stein?
Will Stein: My background is marketing. I was a mid-level marketing executive at Lufthansa, and I realized in a big company I couldn’t be an entrepreneur. My wife and I had a promotional watch company. We were doing watches for companies like Coke and AT&T.
ET: Where did the idea for Philip Stein come from?
Will Stein: My wife and I were introduced to frequency technology in 2001. I understand marketing and trends. One hundred years ago watches were for status and telling time. Then watches became a fashion accessory. Think of Gucci and Fossil. And then there was a technology trend – the Casio watch. Inside the watch is a metal disk almost like a CD. The disk is programmed with frequencies that work with your natural frequencies to enlarge and strengthen your energy field. People say, ‘it makes me feel better.’ We are building a community of believers.
ET: How did you get the big endorsement from Oprah?
Will Stein: Oprah had gotten a watch from Madonna as a gift. She said, ‘I like the design. I like the interchangeable straps. I don’t know about the frequency technology, but I like it and I am going to make it one of my favorite things. ‘ The people would stand in line at Neiman Marcus asking for the Oprah watch.
ET: How long did it take to turn that notoriety into growth for the business?
Will Stein: We opened Asia, the Middle East and we are now in over 30 countries. We’re very strong in the Caribbean. We sell about 80,000 pieces starting at $500 and up to $10,000. Our average price point is $1,000. We have people who buy them by the dozen to give to friends and family and as gifts.
ET: How is your customer breakout between men and women?
Will Stein: We sell 70/30 female. Women are early adapters and we are also focused on design.
ET: Is there proof it actually works?
Will Stein: We did a double blind placebo test with a sleep lab that was published in Sleep Diagnosis and Therapy Journal. More than half of the subjects wearing the Sleep Bracelet reporting dreaming was more pleasant, 39 percent reported sleeping longer, 47 percent reported falling asleep faster and 43 percent reported feeling more refreshed. In total, 96 percent reported one or more of these positive effects.
ET: Are there other products you are pursuing beyond the watch and sleep bracelet?
Will Stein: With frequency technology you can do many things. For example, most people don’t have the time to let wine breath when they open it. We designed a wine wand that speeds up the process. We have launched a fragrance using frequency technology.
ET: Who actually came up with the technology?
Will Stein: A group of Austrians came up with the idea. We have licensed it for everything lifestyle. But it has many industrial uses. For example, for piping that carries water long distances, frequency technology is used.