This mother-daughter powerhouse have found a unique gap in the market. Overcoming unbelievable personal challenges their energy and drive to grow is inspiring and we are proud to have them as members of our WWD community. Here they share with us how Toothbuckle, a sustainable toothbrush cover, helped them emerge from a dark place and focus their attention on something empowering.
Ladies, tell us a bit about yourselves!
Toothbuckle is an oral care sustainable health & beauty brand with low environmental impact.
Roz and I are a mother and daughter team we started the brand out of a personal need having not found a truly effective toothbrush cover that was plastic- free and reduced the germ build-up in between brushing.
We started on our brand journey back in 2018 at the most difficult time of our lives.
Roz was going through a marriage break up after 30 years and was sinking in her divorce process and I had just been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer at just 33 years old I was petrified of what the future had in store.
We were both a bit beaten up by life and generally sad.
I remember just 9 or so months before, Roz and I had spoken about a dream we’d had; to start our own business and create the best toothbrush cover the world had ever seen.
What a dream that would be…
So, on a warm evening with a glass of wine sitting in Roz’s Garden talking about what we were both going to do with our lives the ‘eco cover’ re-emerged. We started to talk about what the ideal cover would look like, what it would do and how to solve all the pain points that people currently had to deal with when using a plastic one.
We quickly realised that what is now Toothbuckle was just the positive focus we needed. In that moment we knew we were committed to bringing the Toothbuckle cover to the world and creating an exceptional cover that was highly sustainable, stopped that germ-build up and was that new way of looking at oral hygiene.
You are both so inspirational! Talk to us about your business...
To bring Toothbuckle to the market we had to source the best quality materials, create a strong design idea and a truly transformative product.
We started to connect with factories, create technical drawings and test out material options. This was an intensely difficult progress to get just right.
After much research we found a wonderful factory that would take on our crazy idea and bring it to life with all the elements.
A Toothbuckle toothbrush cover that was FDA approved, vegan certified, embedded with natural silver as an antibacterial element, fully recyclable, internationally patent protected and of the highest quality solution.
With a silky soft touch and modern colours that resonated with the modern family.
Toothbuckle's mission has always been to make our products rival the cheap toxic plastic versions on price and quality and to connect with the ordinary family with an affordable eco alternative.
We really believe that sustainability needs to be accessible to all for it to really work and we know it can’t be a fad. It has to be trend from now for the future of our planet.
At the very heart of Toothbuckle is people and our passion is to help the most vulnerable. As a social enterprise company, we create projects throughout the year and are working on growing our social reach and getting our products in the hands of the people who need it the most.
PRO YOU + PRO HEALTH + PRO PLANET
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Roz and I both used to fly for airline companies based here in the UK. As we travelled around the world (up to 100’s of flights a year) health and hygiene products were essential for our travel.
How to keep our toothbrush clean whether at home or travelling was a real challenge. Trying to find solutions away from plastics and a healthy alternative, just didn’t seem to exist.
Roz and I settled on wrapping our toothbrush heads in clean tissue paper, but as we started to talk with colleagues, family, chatting to customers on board we quickly realised people were using all sorts of methods when trying to stay away from the 1970’s style plastic cases that had that slimy effect.
Main pain points were: toxic cheap plastic, bacterial slime build -up, bad smell and wasn’t environmentally safe.
We knew would change all of that with the Toothbuckle.
What have been your biggest learning experiences since becoming a business owner?
Oooh this is such a good question.
Always being open to improve and listen to your customer’s feedback.
Finding ways to communicate with your customers authentically through your email processes, and social platforms.
When bringing on talent into the Toothbuckle company we are focused on young people looking for those opportunities. We create learning opportunities, build their skill set and develop empowering moments for each individual.
This has been the biggest switch for Roz and I. We realised to really scale and grow, some of the tasks had to be delegated and the company needed us to focus on the big picture.
If you could give one bit of advice to someone thinking of starting their own business, what would it be?
Be patient, it doesn’t happen overnight. What you know today you’ll learn 10x more this time next year.
Your journey is the same as everyone else’s even if it may appear that they are leaps ahead of you.
Follow the money, what that means is where you are having the most success go deeper into that and utilise that channel.
And you are going to have to develop thick skin and resilience this is not going to be easy in anyway, but you can do it! Half the battle is staying in the process.
What has your biggest success been since starting your business?
We are very proud of the growth of the company and have started to carve out our place in the market.
We have the most wonderful customers who send us cards, come back and repeat buy for friends/ family and buy to include within their local food banks.
We have been included in small business 100 this year which is truly amazing, and we are proud to be amongst such incredible companies.
We have also expanded our store partnerships and now our customers can access our products in over 20 retailers stores across the country plus an additional 10 sustainable online marketplaces.
Wow, what an achievement. You must be so proud! Can you share with us who inspires you?
Women Who Do, we love that your community is about empowering women to take action. With action we all move forward.
Women who inspire are those who create change and real impact. In light of the strong surge in female entrepreneurs, especially over the pandemic, we are the fastest growing group of small business owners, and we bring such incredible skills to a company.
Women before us who have paved the way such as Kathrine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan who worked for NASA back in 1960’s and helped to send shuttles into space.
Madam C J Walker one of the first black female entrepreneurs, philanthropist, and political and social activist. Self-made millionaire who provided hair care products back in the 1900’s. Her story is unbelievably eye opening and just mind blowing considering the time and climate of black people at that time.
In the modern day there is a true admiration for Serena Williams and Oprah Winfrey and so many more. Women have always been dynamite in invention, development and discovery.
So, dream big, no excuses we can, and we will.
What book/article/podcast really gave you that OMG moment?
Rich dad, poor dad is like the blueprint for anyone looking to start their business journey just gives a new perspective.
A compelling article written by Jon Youshaei for Forbes had a strong message.
An Uber driver found a genius way to start his business and reach his ideal customers. His name, Gavin Escolar created beautiful jewellery and he transformed his car into his personal showroom with glossy magazines of his creations in the seat pockets. This is super inspiring to me because he used what he had and thought outside the box.
The Smart Marketer podcast, hosted by Molly Pittman and Ezra Firestone provides incredible in-depth knowledge in marketing which can be a huge undertaking. From paid ads, to email marketing and social media it’s one of the very best providing strategies and deliverables that you can instantly implement.
➡️ You can find Alison & Roz:
Emma Downey | Founder, Women Who Do
Emma can be found glued to her laptop/kindle or embarking on her next favourite hobby. Avid cake-eater, Disney-superfan and passionate about female empowerment, Emma founded WWD in 2017. She's currently travelling around Europe in her converted camper van and eating far too many croissants.
You can contact Emma: email@example.com
Connect with WWD
👩💻 Would you like to be featured? Find out more here.