Diana Hermann is a 1999 graduate of OCOM's MAcOM program. In her Fort Collins, Colorado specialty clinic, she treats dermatological conditions, auto immune diseases, and respiratory ailments. In 2009, Hermann launched her product line, Zi Zai Dermatology, in which she creates hand crafted small batches of exceptional skincare products formulated with Chinese herbs.

Tell us about your product/ product line and the production process.
I formulate Zi Zai Dermatology’s herbal skin care products based on the TCM differentiation of the specific dermatological condition for which the product is intended. Differentiation is the key to effective herbal treatment (both internally and externally). We have products for acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and more. All of our products are hand crafted using high quality raw herbs and organic oils, fair-trade organic butters and other organic cosmetic ingredients (whenever possible). The topical skin care products were designed to help address specific dermatological conditions that I encounter in the patients I care for.

How and or why did you decide to create this product?
I HATE to itch (it drives me absolutely insane, really) and my heart just aches for all those who suffer from itchy skin conditions. So I became quite interested in dermatology. After graduating OCOM in 1999, I completed an internship in the dermatology department of the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Their hospital pharmacy carried all kinds of external herbal products that were not available in the U.S. As I started treating more dermatology patients in my private practice back in the U.S., I realized topicals would help me achieve faster results with my patients. When I could not find products to meet the needs of my patients, I decided to create them.

How does where you are now with your product compare to what you initially thought it would become?
I am exactly where I had hoped to be at the 6 year mark. Whew! For a while there I thought I was fool with a very expensive hobby, though.

What experiences inspired you to follow a career path in acupuncture and Chinese medicine?
I was brilliant at math and science but hated my career as an engineer in a cubical. I was stressed and felt like a caged tiger. I tried acupuncture to help with my stress and was so damn impressed with the medicine that I left engineering to pursue grad school at OCOM. Best professional decision I ever made.

Do you have any advice for fellow alumni looking to put a product on the market?
Do your research to make sure you really have something innovative (or better than what is already out there) to be certain you will have a market for your product. Then git ‘er done! Do not waste time trying to perfect it because someone else will get it to market before you, or your product will become obsolete before you get it to market. Think about the iPhone – Apple made one, got it to market, got feedback and then made the next one better. And they still keep doing that. None of their products are perfect right off the bat and they know they never can be so they are not wasting time trying to perfect it. But DO be sure whatever you create is high quality. I want to be proud of our medicine and I really don’t want to see cheap, crap products being produced just for the sake of someone making money.

What is your (educational/employment) background?
I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University. Before OCOM, I was a civil engineer working in an environmental engineering firm. After graduating OCOM in 1999 with my MAcOM degree, I began practicing TCM and have been my own boss ever since. I have never looked back.

What are your specific clinical interests or specialties?
Dermatology, autoimmune disease, respiratory illness, and infectious disease.

Do you volunteer for any special programs or groups?
Previously I did a lot of work with animal shelters. Lately I have no spare time. I do hope to change this soon and volunteer again helping animals. Animals are always so grateful.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced?
In my private practice, the nature of the conditions I treat are a challenge in themselves. Dermatology and autoimmune diseases can be quite stubborn, and it can take a great deal of time and patience to make lasting changes (and that is when patients are willing to comply with treatment 100%). I tend to get the tough cases that no one else in town can or wants to treat. These chronic conditions are often more about disease management instead of cure, and it is a challenge to accept that I am not going to get immediate gratification with each treatment. In regards to the dermatology products business, there was so much to learn in the beginning – I knew Chinese herbal medicine, but I had to learn how to make ointments and lotions, etc. I took a lot of classes and read a lot of books and made lots of messes. It is taking a significant amount of energy and time to build a second business while still running a successful private practice. Entrepreneurship is NOT for the faint-of-heart. Even today it is difficult to balance running the skin care company PLUS treat patients PLUS take care of my home and family. I rarely have time to relax. But I just hired an assistant and I am hoping this changes things for me!

What do you think it takes to be a successful acupuncturist or researcher?
If we are referring to those acupuncturists who are in private practice: Perseverance. And the desire to keep learning and practicing this medicine. And a good team of quality professionals to do the non-medical work that should be delegated (bookkeeping, reception, graphic design, web design, etc.). Don’t be the anal-retentive, have-to-do-everything-myself-because-surely-no-one-can-do-it-better entrepreneur I used to be. DELEGATE anything that does not need your brain or hands to get done properly.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you.
When I was training in Kung Fu in my 20’s, I was trained to take down 10 attackers who all set on me at once. I was badass! But I don’t think I could do that now, so hopefully circumstances never test me on that!

What do you enjoy most about your practice?
Getting my hands dirty with herbs.