1. Hi, I'm the owner and main administrator of Styleforum. If you find the forum useful and fun, please help support it by buying through the posted links on the forum. Our main, very popular sales thread, where the latest and best sales are listed, are posted HERE

    Purchases made through some of our links earns a commission for the forum and allows us to do the work of maintaining and improving it. Finally, thanks for being a part of this community. We realize that there are many choices today on the internet, and we have all of you to thank for making Styleforum the foremost destination for discussions of menswear.

The trials and tribulations of a man and his toothbrush - The story of my business

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by xpress, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. xpress

    xpress Senior Member

    Likes Received:
    Feb 12, 2009
    This isn’t a “I made 50k a month selling online in 2 months” bullshit post. Rather, this is the story of a guy who had an idea for a product that didn’t really exist (sort of, kinda) and tried to make shit happen… And fell on his face a few times in the process.

    I wasn't going to post - but I figure Style Forum could use some laughs (take this post quasi-seriously at most!)

    Let me start by saying good ideas don't always pan out. I've always been a bit of an idea generator. You know those guys - always the go-to guy to plan the bachelor party. Always coming to you with different business ideas... Most of them pretty shitty.

    That's me.

    Rewind to spring of 2015. I'm making 6 figures as a sales guy - Living in a place where 6 figures allows you to live a pretty sick life. I had some nice stuff, a big house, Rental properties, a nice Audi, some Hugo Boss Suits (hahaha kidding - but that pissed you guys off, didn't it!) I travelled a lot.

    Life was easy. It was about 2pm and I get a phone call at my desk from the head office. The business I worked at was shutting down.
    We had two weeks.

    My brain kicked into overdrive. I had a few business ideas that I was kicking around. This timing couldn't be any more perfect to act on my dream and create.

    I had some money saved up. I could sell the car. Rental property could cover most of the mortgage. I could cut out the vacations. Fuck it, game time, bitch.

    Remember that nice house I bought? It has a nice bathroom. You know what a nice bathroom needs? Nice shit inside it. I want soft towels for when I have all these hotties over (my friends are totally shaking their heads right now). I want a nice shaving kit with a badger hair brush. I want a classy looking toothbrush.

    Wait… A classy looking toothbrush? That’s gotta be easy… With the trend being ON POINT for male grooming… Surely there’s something better than a fucking Colgate white and pink 360. I head over to some local stores - Nothing. I do some quick google’ing - Nothing this side of electric toothbrushes - not for me.

    Andddd there it is. I’m going to create the world’s best manual toothbrush. You know - throwback shit… Everything was better in the 30’s - wasn’t it?

    An inspiration search leads me to a toothbrush using exotic woods. I can brand it like something out of the 30’s… Maybe Dr. Something-or-Other. What do I make it out of? Plastic? The minimums are high and I’m likely going to China. China doesn’t feel very luxurious to me. How about wood? How about a really hard exotic wood?
    I’m up to something.

    Long story short - I use Upwork (highly recommended) and find a guy who can do me some 3d models. I use ShapeWays to 3d print a bunch of these things in slightly different variants and dial
    in the perfect toothbrush. I find a local guy who has a crazy-big machine that can cut out like 200 toothbrushes at a time for next to nothing in cost.
    I find my wood supply guy. What could go wrong?
    Well - Putting bristles in a fucking wooden toothbrush. That’s what could go wrong. I worked with literally a dozen “bristle guys”. Some of these guys did brooms. Some of these guys did toothbrushes. Some of these guys even did bamboo toothbrushes. Anyone who could or has made a bristle got a phone call, and was borderline harassed by some wooden toothbrush guy living in the middle of nowhere.

    Can’t be done.

    Well - it can… But you’re losing a LOT of product (33-50%) to breakage due to the nature of the wood being very hard and brittle.
    In the end - after trial and error…. And more trial… And more error… It wasn’t feasible using the tools and the contacts I had.
    Don’t put the cart before the horse.

    Well fuck me… What am I going to do now? I’m a year into my dream of being an entrepreneur and all I’ve got to show for it are a failed business deal (A story for another time) and a bunch of cool looking wooden toothbrush handles.

    Time to simplify and get some god damned profit!

    Anything you can do they can do better. Or something. I found a company who is underrepresented in North America making awesome toothbrushes. They’re in Italy and the designs are on point.

    I bought into their line and created www.toothbrushshop.com - Which is really just a simple way to buy the best toothbrushes that evoke a sense of luxury. Note - I recently added Bamboo due to demand… WooBamBoo is the best bamboo toothbrush on the market IMO.
    So I learn product photography… And proceed to absolutely make a mess of it (they’re still not great… My third attempt is sitting with my Photoshop wiz that I also found on Upwork)
    I grab a bunch of inventory… I Shopify that shit… I make it subscription’able, and we’re off with a product that is “new to market”.

    Niche? You better fucking believe it.

    The site isn’t perfect… I actually put a brand new theme on it just yesterday, trying to dial it in and make it cool.
    But I’ve had some sales, almost made back all my expenses, and I’ve got a functional business.
    It’s not going to make me a million bucks, but it’s been a really fun process.

    Note - I have another business which I started in the same time-frame that’s a spin on a brick and mortar - Very low overhead but great sales numbers and very Style-Forum'y

  2. Flambeur

    Flambeur Distinguished Member

    Likes Received:
    Mar 19, 2008

  3. ter1413

    ter1413 Stylish Dinosaur

    Likes Received:
    Dec 3, 2009
    Central Booking

  4. xpress

    xpress Senior Member

    Likes Received:
    Feb 12, 2009
    Thanks guys...

    Wasn't sure what kind of reaction this post would get :slayer:

  5. Master-Classter

    Master-Classter Distinguished Member

    Likes Received:
    Jul 18, 2007
    Toronto, Canada
    most elaborate spammer eva! I'm kidding. Looks pretty cool.

    I suggest putting aside like 100 of these as a marketing expense and make a list of influential mens lifestyle bloggers, instagrammers, etc. Send them a message saying you love what they do, you want to send them a free product to review (honestly) and are they interested. If they like it, they can feature it and get an affiliate link to your site and get a cut. Go for flat digital channels like those. Then places which funnel the type of typical customer like badger and blade, styleforum (duh) and others and post an offer to send a bunch out. Get listed as a product for people to write reviews about. Get people who already have clusters of related customers to send them your way. Don't understimate the power of reviews on places like Amazon and others. See if you can get into those monthly box subscription type of things, like birchbox for men. There must be some around?

    And if you decide to distribute to brick/morter then I'd say go for those 'artisan' type of shops like barbershops, bar/drink stores, perfume/grooming places, etc. I could see this at the cologne/shaving section of high end retail stores for sure. You'll lose some margin there but you get some volume and can feel out the market demand. Find related products like say Marvis toothpaste or Allessi and go on their sites and look for a list of stores where they're sold and hit those places. Hell, hit up high end furniture stores and interior designers and give them a bunch to put in the vignettes.

    just some ideas off the top of my head.

    PS - stainless steel handle.... do it.....
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017

  6. otc

    otc Stylish Dinosaur

    Likes Received:
    Aug 15, 2008
    The luxury collection don't really look like they would be nice to brush with (although I am curious about natural bristles), but the bamboo ones look pretty legit.

    What does a toothbrush cost anyways? (I use an electric, and I get my travel brushes free from the dentist)--the price on the bamboo seems totally reasonable for something that looks better than your garish plastic standard.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2017

  7. xpress

    xpress Senior Member

    Likes Received:
    Feb 12, 2009
    Master-Classter awesome ideas.
    I've been working with a couple bloggers/instagram/youtubers to get some traction.

    It's been an interesting journey, to say the least.

    My favorite are the synthetic bristle - 1930 Series. They're heavily... heavvvily inspired by vintage brushes, and feel extremely high quality.

    Nothing like throwing on a little Artie Shaw when you're getting ready to head out for the evening, and brushing those gums with one of those!

    OTC - The luxury stuff is amazing once you've used it a few times... It's certainly a change from our "norm" of toothbrushes, but people who bought them (after a week or so to acclimatize) seem to be very pleased!

    The bamboo stuff is inexpensive - And roughly the same price as a typical toothbrush you'd find at the corner store - Albeit with planet-saving bamboo :)

    Thanks for the responses gents!

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy, and Terms and Conditions.