Blog | Bogobrush


ON APRIL 22, FIFTEEN DETROITERS GATHERED for the Earth Day Clean Up we sponsored with The Collective at True North. Armed with work gloves, and garbage bags of all shapes and sizes, this crew ventured into the endless blocks of trash near the Core City neighborhood in Detroit. 

We picked up garbage for 2 hours, and made our way through only 1 city block. One block! We ended up with 2 mounded pick-up loads, and nearly 50 bags of trash. Plenty of garbage was not even accessible through the brambles of bushes, or were rubber tires that need special pick-up. But, it's pretty amazing how cleaning up affects the neighborhood. 


After the event, Bre (co-founder of The Collective) was closing up and a neighbor came out and shared this touching story:

"I'm 84 years old and have lived on the street for 50 years. I saw people outside and just had to come out and say thank you for taking time to do something about the trash in the area. I raised 10 kids in this house and now I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren! This little corner of Detroit used so vibrant; filled with cafes and shops. It makes me feel so happy to see all the new things coming to the area and that the people moving in truly care about bringing the neighborhood back." 

Every bit matters. <3

Thanks to all the Detroiters who came out for Earth Day. Stay tuned for another clean-up event later this summer.


Bre, co-founder of The Collective helps set an intention and instruction for the clean-up.
hey John! (Bogobrush co-founder and designer)
um...hmm. maybe they knew Bogobrush was coming. ;)
cleaning up, cleaning up
yay, snacks! always need a bit of reward after hardwork.
the Clean Up coordinators, Laura and Bre:)
THANKS EVERYONE! See you next time. Until then, keep on brushin' :)
pictures (instant and digital) by Mar Mnz

Helping communities is nurtured into the soul of Bogobrush, and when social good connector, Abel Impact, contacted us about joining them in project for homeless tote bags, we knew it was a perfect project pairing. 

bogobrush for homeless with abel impact

ABEL IMPACT is designed to help businesses and families find genuine solutions for giving back in ways that match each business's or family's unique values. Founder, Bailey Von Tassel believes if we act with generosity and soul, businesses will connect better with customers and employees, and families will build a meaningful legacy for generations to come. 

the homeless tote project

The team at Abel Impact chose to showcase a DIY homeless tote project as an example of something we can do in offices and families to connect to each other and create something that makes a real difference. Each item was chosen intentionally by the team to fulfill two key philosophies:

1. actually helpful and useful

The Abel Impact team knew they needed to provide items that are actually useful to a person in homeless circumstances. Not just what sounds good, but what experts say are needed. 

For instance: SOCKS. When feet get wet and are exposed to the elements, they are extremely susceptible to injury, and an injured foot disrupts a chain of health and survival problems. 

Other items included:

  • Reusable tote bag (HAE now)
  • Toothbrush (Bogobrush)
  • Water bottle (Klean Kanteen)
  • Granola bar
  • Orange and apples
  • Handmade note cards to share a little love

assemble bogobrush homeless tote

2. accessible and easy to assemble

This project is meant to inspire us all to act, and to show that giving back doesn't need to be complicated. We all have tools around us to participate and share. 

highlighting businesses who give 

We are so happy to connect with Abel Impact through this project, and we love their use of other products with social and environmental pursuits. Giving back with products who give back. What a beautiful circle. :)

You can learn more about this project on the Abel Impact blog

All photos are courtesy of Abel Impact. 




SINCE 2014, MELANIE STOVALL AND HER COMMITTEE for Sustainable Design of AIGA MN have been amazing to Bogobrush.  They invited Heather to speak at a networking event called Green Drinks, hosted a Give Event for Bogobrush and Apple Tree Dental, (story below,) and never stopped believing in us and the little toothbrush that could.  To honor them, we award them the first annual Bogobrusher Award.  Read this post to learn about all their great work, and if you're a member of AIGA, check your member email for a thank you gift from us, available until Dec. 31. :) 

Melanie is third from the right, in the picture above.  Other folks are John, Heather, and the AIGA MN committee.



Melanie: AIGA is a 100% volunteer organization serving creative fields such as design, printing, prepress, photography, illustration, paper manufacturing/distribution, and writing. AIGA Minnesota is one of the largest chapters in the nation, serving nearly 1,300 members. 


Melanie: The Sustainable Design Committee uses visual communication to educate the community on environmental issues, whether that be teaching designers how to apply sustainable design to their work, talking through sustainable alternatives for process and materials in the industry, or in the instance of Bogobrush, partnering with organizations to promote their sustainability efforts. Our main goal is to look at an event holistically — not just bring in a sustainable speaker, but make sure everything down to the venue, food, drinks, and promotional materials is environmentally friendly. Every project presents a new challenge: We always find ourselves asking, "What about this isn't sustainable? What can we do instead?" We've printed invites on used beer boxes, created paperless posters by screenprinting the design onto windows, created reusable canvas bags and pint glasses as an alternative to brochures and most recently led a pledge against plastic straws. 

Designer: Liping Vong

Paperless Poster Designer: Craig Johnson

Designers: Brittany Sweney, Amy Dritz, Austin Nash and Melanie Stovall 

Designer: Calvin LaBrie


Melanie: There are currently about eight volunteers on the Sustainable Design Committee. Most of us are senior to mid-level working professionals with the exception of a few students. We're an even mix of graphic designers, letterpress printers, and illustrators.


Melanie: I've been volunteering for this group since 2011. I became the Associate Director in 2014 and was just re-elected for another two-year term.


Melanie: The Give Tour had 3 events: Fargo, Detroit, and Minneapolis. Our role was to work with Bogobrush to determine the scope and theme of the Minneapolis event. We landed on hosting a fundraiser for Apple Tree Dental, a non-profit that provides oral care for people who would otherwise go without. Posters designed by local Minneapolis artists were available for sale in addition to the 1,200 Bogobrushes that were donated that evening. Our group worked on planning and promotion, found sponsors, and designed all needed materials for the party. 


Melanie: From the very first planning meeting, we knew we wanted to make a bathroom photobooth with a giant toothbrush so people could pretend to brush their teeth. My committee took the idea and ran with it, buying bubbles and shower cap props. The backdrop was a shower curtain and the foreground was set up as though the camera was shooting from a medicine cabinet. It was so awesome to see attendees enjoying themselves in the booth and the photos are amazing…definitely my highlight of the evening.

Designers: Leslie Olson, Marla Bonner and Elise Matheny


Melanie: We partner with other organizations in town like MN Institute of Art (MIA), MN College of Arts and Design (MCAD), and Eureka Recycling who are leading the conversation in Sustainable Design and Zero Waste. Groups outside of AIGA Minnesota tend to bring in multiple disciplines within sustainability so it creates a space where designers can speak directly to other industries. We've worked with the MCAD Sustainable Design program to bring in professionals for design lectures, partnered with existing events to come up with sustainable alternatives for promotional materials, showed films on the Midtown Greenway bike path in South Minneapolis and are currently working on a high school membership program in North Minneapolis. It's all about looking around the city to find out who shares our passion for sustainability and trying to see if there's a way for us to work together.



Melanie: We have a Sustainable Design retreat, "Earth Tones," coming up in April. We’re also putting on a Design Impact series in May 2017 to promote organizations that use design to make a positive impact in Minnesota.

If you’re interested in being involved in those events or just want more information on our committee, you can email us at You can also check out other upcoming AIGA Minnesota events at and follow us at @aigamn.



AIGA, we thank you from our deep, toothbrush geek hearts:)  - John and Heather


Photographers: Jay Larson and Emily Barrera

Earlier this year, we were approved for a loan from the Michigan Women’s Foundation, and I recently met with loan officer, Vanessa, to close the loan. These dollars are all going toward the purchase of our next round of inventory and website development, and we are all so excited to partner with this supportive foundation.

MWF 14

 Michigan Women’s Foundation’s mission is to transform Michigan to achieve equality and empowerment for women and girls and to eliminate barriers to economic and social equality for women and girls. You can find out more here.

All of the women I’ve met from the organization are gals with inspiring backgrounds and interesting networks. It may sound cliche, but as a woman entrepreneur, I really am glad to find women like this who I can talk with as we grow our business. It’s great to have a balance of advisement from all different perspectives – man, woman, industry, geographic location, culture, age, and experiments.

Thanks, Michigan Women’s Foundation. Here’s to our mutual success!


Heather, CEO


Our CEO, Heather, had the opportunity to speak at TEDxFargo this week.  In her talk, she explains how her experiences with social entrepreneurship have inspired her to embrace the struggles – as we all can in our own lives – for they are the only way to evolve toward the future. Listen to her full talk here!


With the help of our friends at Designed Good and Center for the Arts, Port au Prince, Bogobrush was able to make its way into the hands of the girls of Siloe, Haiti. We could not be more honored to be a part of their mission  to empower the young girls of Siloe through the arts. An extra special thanks goes to Bernice and Nadia Todres for their talents and their desire to make the world a better place–without them this wouldn’t be possible. You can read more about their work here.

haiti 1

haiti 3

haiti 2

Happy Earth Day, everyone! In honor of this special day that we at Bogobrush hold so very near and dear to our hearts, we want to share with you the story of one very special lady, Miss Kira Watkins, who is using Bogobrush as a tool on her personal mission to help protect sea turtles and raise awareness of the dangers of plastic pollution in Costa Rica.


Kira has always possessed an exemplary environmental awareness, however, one experience in particular was a real game changer that sent her on a mission to cut plastic usage out of her life and inspire those around her to do the same. In 2013, Kira traveled from her home in Austin, TX down to Ostional, Costa Rica, where she volunteered with Estacion Biomarina Arribadas Ostional, an organization committed to helping protect the area’s ever-threatened sea turtle population. While volunteering, Kira couldn’t help but notice the alarming amount of plastic washed ashore, particularly, all of the of plastic toothbrushes that littered the beach and were being ingested by sea turtles and other marine life, having disastrous results on the ecosystem.

She was determined to do something about it.

photo 2-6

Recently, Kira made yet another trip to Ostional, and this time she brought a little company–30 bamboo Bogobrushes, to be exact. She spoke to classes of young students to raise awareness of the importance of proper dental hygiene as well as the detrimental effects that disposable plastic products are having on our environment and its wildlife. We can say with complete confidence and pride that those kids came away with some valuable knowledge…and a new Bogobrush!


Kira and Roberto the Spider Monkey talking dental hygiene and sustainability

photo 1-6

We at Bogobrush are so thankful for people like Kira, who are so eager to get out there and truly make a difference that will have a lasting effect for generations to come. She stands as an inspiration to us all. Cheers to you, Kira!

If you’d like to read more of Kira’s story, click HERE.

AIGA Minnesota is the first place to turn for inspiration, professional development, and excellence in design in MN, so, needless to say, I was honored when I was recently given the opportunity to speak at AIGA Minnesota’s Green Drinks. It was so much fun!  It’s so amazing to see people getting involved and asking great questions about Bogobrush and its impact on both society and our environment.

Bogobrush co-founder Heather at AIGA Green Drinks

I think my favorite part was after the presentation where I got to chat with everyone, while making a lot of new friends and connections.

Bogobrush co-founder mingles at AIGA Green Drinks

Bogobrush biodegradable toothbrush at Dangerous Man Brewery

This was a totally worthwhile event.  Thanks, AIGA MN, for inviting me, and thanks, Jay Larson Photography for the beautiful photos.  Last but not least, cheers to Dangerous Man Brewing for the beer, and for being a stellar host location!



This morning we reached what is perhaps our most exciting milestone yet…we began fulfilling shipments! That means you are only a few days away from meeting your Bogobrush for the first time, and we’re confident it’ll be love at first sight. Frankly, our team is overjoyed, and we are so happy to show you that your Bogobrush is worth the wait. We truly could not have brought this “Little Toothbrush That Could” to life without you, so a huge thank you goes out to all of you for your support throughout our journey. For those of you outside of the U.S., please note that international orders must pass through Customs and may take a few weeks to be received. 

Earlier this month, John and I had the privilege of speaking to- and more importantly,with -100 high school students at the North Dakota Leadership Seminar, or NDLS. We invite you to check out our experiences and be inspired by the young people of a state that is often overlooked, our home state! As John said, “Look out world, ND is coming for you!”

 A Bit of Background

Each year, nearly 100 high schools from around the state nominate one sophomore student to attend NDLS, a weekend camp held at the University of Mary campus in Bismarck, ND. NDLS is designed to get the students away from familiar settings and social expectations, and into an energy-packed weekend where they are empowered by self-worth and their individual strengths to grow as leaders and to develop a strong community responsibility.

pic on blog

Building Bridges – Not Just a Metaphor 

The weekend is full of diverse activities designed to provide an opportunity for a variety of leadership skills. The event John and I witnessed was a bridge building activity, where the students divided into 15 teams, designed, then built a bridge out of newspaper and masking tape. The requirements? A pitcher of water had to pass under it and sit on top of it for 5 seconds. The strongest bridge built that day could hold 20 reams of paper – that’s 100lbs!


Being Inspired While Inspiring Others

During our presentation, John and I spent the first ten minutes introducing the students to Bogobrush and sharing our own journeys from high school to present. We told them that for us, leadership is not a product of a job or role, but a lifestyle to be challenged intellectually, physically, and geographically, to question social social norms, and be true to what feels right to you. The remaining 45 minutes of our presentation we opened up for questions. We were amazed at the level of thought these students had about business, and we had a blast talking with them.


“Almost Like a Different Universe”

Following our presentation, we participated in a pep rally of sorts with all the students. We did cheers about beans and hiking in the woods, and even “made” a thunderstorm inside. Later that night was their dance, which was movie themed, so they all were to dress up like their favorite movie character – hence the costumes.


As we were driving back to our hometown, we reflected on the day. John commented it was “almost like a different universe.” And it was. Every student was fully engaged, and totally adapted to being outside of their comfort zones.

Congrats, NDLS. We are proud and honored to have been part of it.