In 2018, The Pink Stuff was little more than a home cleaning product with a cute name. “The miracle cleaning paste,” as it said on every container, was sold by just two retail chains in Britain. At a factory near Birmingham, The Pink Stuff line operated for about two hours every month. That was plenty.
“It was a brand with a lot of uses,” said Henrik Pade, a managing director at Star Brands, the company behind the product. “But nobody used it.”
Actually, The Pink Stuff — which is, yes, bubble-gum pink — had some fans. One of them was Sophie Hinchliffe, a then-28-year-old hairdresser in Essex, about 30 miles east of London. Ms. Hinchliffe had learned about The Pink Stuff on Instagram, naturally, and had started posting daily videos to her then-new account, @mrshinchhome. All the videos were snippets of her nonstop campaign to spiff up the home she had just moved into with her husband.
There was Mrs. Hinch, as she called herself, using a toothbrush to scrub the grout in her bathroom. Here she was polishing her candlesticks. If it were stained, The Pink Stuff would clean it, she told her small but growing audience. Don’t buy new tiles, she advised. Spend 99 pence and restore the old ones. She recommended other brands, too. The Pink Stuff was simply a favorite.
“Hinchers,” as her devotees soon christened themselves, found something meditative and satisfying about watching a chatty, glamorous and yet relatable woman eradicate grime. And these people weren’t just gawkers. They were seeking product tips from the scrubber in chief.