Do you make your own products or outsource? We like to think of ourselves as innovation heavy in terms of ideas, and asset light in terms of our infrastructure. This lets us operate at our most efficient, leveraging our entrepreneurial team and our creativity. First, we dream up our NPD internally, taking all sorts of input from various members of the team. Then we formulate in-house with our head of R+D to make everything as safe, effective, and delicious as we possibly can. We work concurrently with our head of supply chain and operations to make sure all of our ingredients and components are as thoughtfully-sourced as possible. Once we nail down the formulations and our suppliers, we then commercialize everything with third-party, FDA-approved, US-based manufacturing partners.
Our biggest challenge in 2017 was: To generate awareness in a massive category that many folks buy on autopilot. Most folks we asked couldn’t even remember what brand of toothpaste they last purchased, but they all brush their teeth. And most had no idea that things like artificial sweeteners, synthetic dyes and artificial flavors were in their favorite toothpaste. This was a big challenge for us—to wake people up a bit to the idea that there were some things they might want to pay attention to in a category they frankly weren’t paying all that much attention to in the first place. Fortunately, we were able to grow our awareness in a major way with a campaign called “An Inconvenient Tooth.” We partnered with leading creative agency 72andSunny on a video which featured our new BFF, Toothy, who asked folks in an engaging way to think about the ingredients that they were putting in their mouths, and their kids’ mouths, everyday. The video generated over 420 million impressions across digital/social platforms, our brand awareness increased significantly, and sales continue to grow at a fantastic rate. We expect to do a whole lot more to get the friendly word out in 2018, and all I can say is “watch this space.”
Our best selling products are: Our fluoride free kids watermelon paste and organic apple flavor toddler training gel, and our fluoride free adult natural sweet mint paste. Our brand-spittin’-new activated charcoal paste with coconut oil is off to the fastest start of any paste we’ve made thus far. It’s quite possible it will be our best seller as folks are reading this...
Funlao Alabi of Shea Radiance wants to know what you would do differently if you had to start your business over again? Great question. I’m really proud of all that the team has accomplished, but we made some mistakes with early packaging—custom forms, fabrications and closures that we’re too far afield and didn’t live up to expectations. If I could go back in time, I’d start with packaging that leaned into the category norms a bit more vs. trying to blow them all up right away. You can ease into the revolution, if that makes sense, and still take people on a new journey. Also, I’m not sure I’d give out my cell phone and skype information as freely as I did when we started (who am I kidding, it’s 917-392-1000, and skype is hello.founder).
2018 will be the year our company: Grows exponentially. We have an outrageous number of opportunities that we are executing against: new paste and mouthwash product launches across food, drug and mass, a major push across e-commerce (where we are seeing exponential, close to 4-digit growth), the launch of our online subscription model with a few surprises, and a deeper push into the professional channel. On top of this, we’ve been approached by distributors and retailers from over 78 countries and counting, and we’re exploring the opportunity to bring our naturally friendly products to brushers all over the world.