Model’s move to make toothpaste ‘trendy’
Model Georgia Geminder wants to change the "daggy" image of oral health care and make things like toothpaste "trendy" and "glamourous" - just like the beauty products she has been working with since she was 17.
The Melbourne woman, who spent seven years modelling in Australia, London and Los Angeles, launched her toothpaste and oral care brand Gem last year, which replaces chemicals with natural ingredients.
While the brand has only been around for a year, it's already stocked in retail giant Mecca and in dental clinics around Australia.
Ms Geminder's goal is to reposition products like toothpaste to appear on the beauty scene.
"Traditionally, people dread going to the dentist and people don't love brushing their teeth and I wanted to bring out the enjoyment of oral care - and the beauty world has always been so glamourised and I don't think the same has been happening in the oral care world, so I think it's time for a trendy, millennial-focused brand to really disrupt the category," she told news.com.au.
Modelling has helped with this mission too. "I think in the sense that I got good insight into what was going on in the beauty scene and because we have the mission of positioning oral care with a beauty lens, it helped aesthetically just being in the industry," she said.
Rich Lister royalty
The 27-year-old has also been able to lean on some impressive business expertise too - her parents. Her mum Fiona Geminder is Australia's third richest woman as she owns cardboard giant Visy, while her dad Ralph Geminder is also a Rich Lister with a 40 per cent share in plastics manufacturer Pact.
But despite her parent's wealth, Ms Geminder said they didn't stump up loads of cash to help Gem. She invested her own money into bringing the brand to life.
"I funded the business based off my savings from modelling and my mum and dad helped me a little with stock and initial opening orders, but it's basically been off an oily rag like most start-ups," she said.
The idea for the business came when she was working in LA.
"I started Gem when I realised there was a gap in market for chemical-free toothpaste that actually works. I was living in LA at the time and I was modelling and was surrounded by all these beauty products and I saw a shift in beauty to natural that I didn't see in oral care, especially in toothpaste - they weren't minty enough and didn't have effective fluoride," she said.
"So I went on two year quest to create my super toothpaste where I took out all of the s**t in the conventional toothpaste and put all the good stuff back in."
This quest included hours reading research papers where she found out interesting facts like Egyptians used to put eggshells in their toothpaste, but also identified what she claims are "the toxic 10" - ingredients that she said are "nasty" with some also used in rat poison and toilet cleaner. The "toxic" ingredients she singled out included sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan and titanium dioxide.
She replaced fluoride with things like hydroxyapatite, which she said is proven to "remineralise the tooth enamel as effectively as fluoride but it's derived from coconut" , as consumers become more savvy about what's contained in their products.
Gem's mouthcare range
Gem's toothpaste comes in four flavours - apple mint, cinnamon mint, coconut mint and crisp mint, which sell for $15, and are packaged in pretty pastel tubes. There's also a plant-based floss for $10, which is biodegradable, and a mouthwash that retails for $18.
One unusual product is the sustainable toothpaste bites, which cost $15, and come with 60 in the container.
"It's a toothpaste tablet, so you bite down on them, wet the toothbrush and brush," she explained. "It's great for the consumer who doesn't want plastic and they still want that sustainability angle and fresh mouth feeling and it's also great for travel."
The brand's bestseller is the crispy mint toothpaste, while the Gem starter kit which includes toothpaste, floss and mouthwash retails for $40 and is also popular online, Ms Geminder said. The backing of a cosmetic giant has also helped.
"Mecca was super thrilled with sales. We performed 400 per cent better than earlier indications, so it shows people love non toxic toothpaste, which is really exciting," she said.
Next up for Gem is a whitening pen and breath spray, which is launching in the next two weeks.
"I would love to get into all products that are in your most sensitive spots, so getting chemicals out of products that people use in the most private places and extending into personal care," Ms Geminder added. "Also potentially going overseas, but at the moment I'm really focusing on growing the brand in Australia."
While the brand has a millennial focus, she also has her eye on an "extension for Gem" targeted at kids, which could be called Gem Mini.
"Even though it's skewed towards millennials with packaging, models and the art direction, the brand is for anyone that has teeth," she said.
Launching during a pandemic
Ms Geminder launched the business just as the pandemic hit Australia in March.
"I wouldn't recommend launching a business at the start of global pandemic, but it allowed me to refine the brand, introduce new SKUs, and refine the packaging and messaging," she said.
"One of the big lessons my dad taught me is to just launch a business, get it done and then fix it later, so COVID really aided that opportunity."
She expects more millennial challenger brands to be hitting the market in the coming years - just like her own - after she identified that the toothpaste aisle has barely changed in decades.
"I think Instagram has offered an amazing platform for anyone to start and launch their own business. I applaud anyone that endeavours to do that and anyone who goes out to be a challenger brand to big long standing corporations. It's important to shake up what's always been and its important to take a risk to start your own business," she said.
"It's like a rollercoaster, there are good days and bad days, but the good days always trump the bad days. It's fun and creative."
Moo Goo's massive sales
One Aussie company that has a keen focus on natural ingredients has seen bumper sales in the past year.
Skincare brand MooGoo was started 15 years ago, but it saw its online sales grow by 120 per cent, which equates to more than 100,000 extra products sold.
Melody Livingstone, chief executive of MooGoo, said customers were getting more ingredient savvy in the last 12 months about products they use every day - like deodorants - but the pandemic also increased demand for things like creams.
"Skin conditions increased as people had to wash their hands more frequently and had to use harsh chemicals on skin like hand sanitisers," she said.
The company's biggest seller is its $8.50 Fresh Cream Deodorant - with one snapped up every three minutes - and a whopping 220,000 units sold across the year.
The brand is currently selling more than 25 deodorants an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in stores and online.
"The Fresh Cream Deodorant is an aluminium-free natural roll-on and its slightly alkaline formula prevents odour causing bacteria from growing," she said. "It's made with milk of magnesia, it has a fresh lemon myrtle scent and is naturally preserved with hops extract."
Ms Livingstone said MooGoo now also sells an eczema cream every one minute and 45 seconds.
The company is working on expanding its deodorant range and also introducing therapy washes for people with sensitive skin, as well as expanding into the UK, US and China.
Originally published as Model's move to make toothpaste 'trendy'