Bogobrush’s modern design looks better in your home, feels better in your hand, and is far and away better for our planet.
Our recycled plastic collection takes materials that would otherwise be fated to the landfill, and gives them a second chance at life. We stripped away the multiple materials, grips and gimmicks that make the typical toothbrush completely un-recyclable. Our minimalist philosophy led us to create a solid, one piece handle that is as easy to recycle again and again.
ON THIS FATHER'S DAY, John and I want to let you in on a bit of our Dad's work. As you know by now, our Dad is a dentist: Dr. Ken McDougall. What you may not know, is that his dedication to oral health is far reaching - from his commitment to the patients in his Jamestown practice, to his hard work in leadership positions within the American Dental Association, to his volunteer work providing dental services to under-served communities.
Today, we decided to share a few pictures and stories from the times he (and our mom, too,) have been to Guatemala on medical mission trips. His experiences have helped shape our view on global oral health problems, and we are forever inspired by his hard work and service to others. Thank you, Dad!
PROVIDING ORAL HEALTH CARE IN GUATEMALA
Here, our Dad and his assistant, Emily, are set up at their work station in a village school building for the day. They operated with travel equipment and power supplies, and all the waste (spit and other mouth stuff -technical term:)) went in a bucket until disposal.
On a trip like this, people line up for hours to receive care, and the overwhelming majority of work is extractions. Within a matter of days, our dad and the team had pulled hundreds of teeth.
The team set up cleaning stations, (like the one below,) outside the buildings where treatment was provided. The instruments were washed in a disinfecting solution, and then dried in the sun: nature's sanitation device. Nature is amazing.
*Condition of Guatemalan Life: The pup in this picture was starving, like most wild dogs in Guatemala. At one point, (gross fact alert,) the team found the pup licking out of the waste bucket in search of food.
In Guatemala, village life is largely subsistence farming. The home above is a typical home for a family in such a village.
Above is a scene from washing day. Without clean and running water, the women gather all the laundry and head to the river.
WITHOUT CLEAN WATER
The lack of clean water is a serious problem for the quality of life of Guatemalans, and in terms of oral health, the effects are devastating.
In Guatemala, soda is consumed all day long. This is largely because safe, bottled drinking water is made to be so expensive. In the picture, below, these women and children are drinking soda from plastic bags with straws poked into them.
Here, a boy stands behind the counter in a soda shop.
Each day, cotton candy salesmen walk the villages with these racks.
VALUABLE, YET HEARTBREAKING, ORAL CARE
Without access to regular oral care, the conditions of oral health in Guatemalan villages are not good. Unfortunately, this problem is made considerably worse by the lack of clean water. The systemic issues of constant soda and sugar consumption overwhelms the good work of dentists and mission trips. As our dad described, the work of providing dental care in Guatemala is very valuable and makes an immediate impact on each person's life, but at the same time it's heartbreaking because without a change in the local diet, it's as though no end is in sight.
John and I are very inspired by our Dad's experiences, and they help us understand that giving toothbrushes only scratches the surface of how to help. For Bogobrush, the real work of giving back is in the relationships and the communities we become part of, and is where we learn how to contribute to meaningful solutions for people's lives.
Thanks, Dad, for all you do!
Now that our Wefunder equity crowdfunding campaign is in full swing, we want to let you all in to our vision for how we'll use the money we're raising.
The first tier is an initial $50,000. To date, we are more than half-way to that goal!
The largest portion of those funds are marked for sales and press relations. This is an exciting time for Bogobrush: demand grows every day, and the more people who learn the Bogobrush story, the more people want to be part of it. It’s just a matter of reaching them.
"If I was down to my last dollar, I'd spend it on PR." - Bill Gates
We'll push the Bogobrush story, the made in USA story, the design story, the woman-led business story, the eco-friendly toothbrush story. Everything to help the world understand our mission and dreams for the little toothbrush that could.
Next, we'll invest in kits to use for sales and press. This is all designed and ready to go - we just need the funds to create several hundred of them - and hopefully more efficiently than we do it now, one by one, by hand. :)
We'll invest in SEO (search engine optimization) and Search Ads to keep Bogobrush relevant online.
We'll invest a bit into a couple events within our Giving Communities to celebrate you, our partners, and learn more about how we can contribute in meaningful ways to solving the problems that face our towns and planet.
The smallest amount of cash, but most definitely not the least important: Subscriptions. We have the technology all ready to go, but we are just short on funds. With the success of our Wefunder campaign, all it will take is a click of a button and your biodegradable toothbrush will be deliverable to your door every few months.
THE AMERICAN DENTAL ASSOCIATION RECOMMENDS CONSUMERS CHANGE THEIR TOOTHBRUSHES EVERY 3-4 MONTHS, OR SOONER. - WWW.ADA.COM
So easy and healthy for you, and for the business, subscriptions mean recurring revenue. Win-win.
Anything raised over that $50K will be used for a down payment on tooling and equipment which will cut our cost of manufacturing in half and make it possible for us to talk with larger distributors around the world.
Join us as we continue bringing this dream into reality: invest a minimum $100 at wefunder.com/bogobrush.
Last week, co-founder Heather traveled with her husband, David, to Kampala, Uganda, where their friends Chris and Heather are working and tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the Ugandan people. As part of their trip, they had the opportunity to attend an event at the United Nations in Kampala as Chris's guests.
The event was for a branch of the United Nations called Pulse Lab. Pulse Lab is a think-tank, of sorts, that is working on developing tech platforms for analyzing and showcasing big data in real time. It's all a bit wordy sounding, but in application it's cutting edge. There are only three Pulse Labs in the world: Jakarta, New York, and Kampala.
In Kampala, Uganda, unbelievable amounts of data are gathered, often times via mobile device, from organizations in areas like public health, public safety, climate and clean water. Pulse Lab creates tools to compare the data and help decision-makers identify trends, solve problems, and in some cases predict epidemics or outbreaks.
At the event, Pulse was presenting the tool in the context of HIV/AIDS treatment, specifically Option B+, which is a treatment to reduce mother to child transmission of AIDS. In partnership with The Ministry of Health and UNAID, Pulse Lab Kampala is developing an application that uses real-time analytics to monitor the implementation of Option B+ and the quality of the service delivered by health centers.
This level of data analysis is leading the way in the UN globally.
"It was such an honor to be in the presence of the Pulse Lab team in Kampala, and to witness the direct impact their work has on issues I've only ever heard about at a distance. These individuals are truly on ground level, helping the world be a better place." - Heather
Haha! Gotta love a good Buzzfeed quiz. We think 'overalls' is a stellar trend.
Fan art and a story! We always love to hear from you, our awesome Bogobrusher family, and recently we heard from Dino about his tale from the day he and his partner received their new Bogobrushes. When we asked if we could share his story with you, he not only said yes, but sent us an adorable illustration they made. It is just too good to keep to ourselves, and we hope you enjoy it!
YAY! Thanks, Dino, for sharing your talent and your story. Here's to many more curries and Bogobrushes. Cheers!
A lot has happened since we sold out of Bogobrushes last May. So here is complete recap on the new and improved Bogobrush.
BAMBOO NOT CUTTIN’ IT. It turns out that pretty bamboo toothbrushes are very hard (and expensive) to make. Our pilot run brushes were beautiful and successful, but when we scaled up for production more than half of them failed to meet our tolerances. This led to bristling failures – some we could catch, others happened in a few of your mouths. : /
With your feedback, we knew we had to find a solution that would take out this risk. For now, the best way to do that is to use a material that can be molded.
TO GRANDMA’S HOUSE WE GO. Our search for a better material took us to an unexpected place – our Grandma’s hometown in ND! Two fantastic manufacturing firms are there, and together they’ve been the right partners to find a moldable solution for Bogobrush.
A NEW TOOL FOR BOGOBRUSH. It took a couple months to get the digital model just right for building our mold, but by late summer, our first molding tool was in production. In September, the tool was ready for use.
FINDING THE RIGHT ECO-PLASTIC. Our initial choice of eco-plastic had trouble in the mold: sink holes, bubbles, and impossible cycle times. Disappointed, but not defeated, we searched and finally, we found two that work:
1. A biodegradable plastic – made from plants, and
2. A recyclable plastic – made from recycled plastic.
In November, we watched these materials run through our mold in North Dakota. The photo below is of the exact prototypes we saw – they’re beautiful and we were ecstatic to see that they’re consistently bristlable, too!
WHEN? We’re looking at a new launch in spring/summer 2015. We’re bummed to miss so much time in the market, but we need to get this right. And ultimately, the only way to get anywhere is to keep moving, so onward we go!
HELPING PAVE THE WAY FOR OTHERS. We’re learning, first-hand, that eco-friendly products are rare because the materials are new and everyone in the production chain is learning how to work with them. We haven’t always felt patient (or happy) with the development times, but our efforts really do help make the path easier, not just for Bogobrush, but for other eco-friendly products, too.
BORN IN THE USA. We are so proud of our U.S. manufacturing partners, and we want you to get to know them, too. Stay tuned over the next weeks and months as we introduce you to our Bogobrush makers.
Until next time, keep on brushin’!