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“Do you even floss?” Cocofloss Founders Catherine & Chrystle Cu on changing the human behaviours behind flossing

by Female Startup Club
October 29th 2020
00:56:56
Description

Everyone hates it when the dentist tells you to floss. It’s like that thing that you know you need to do - that will prevent most of the issues with your teeth and gums yet you don’t do it. And you... More

doing here. We're in month two of being part of the hubspot podcast network and I wanted to take a second to shout out another incredible women lead podcast. Being boss with Emily Thompson if you're a creative business owner or thinking about becoming one. Being boss is an exploration of not only what it means, but what it takes to be a creative business owner, freelancer or side hustler. I loved Emily's episode on taking time off as a business owner. It's definitely a really challenging part of running your own business and I recommend giving it a listen, check out being boss wherever you get your podcasts. This is Crystal and Catherine for female startup Club. Mm Hey everyone and welcome back to another episode of the female startup club podcast. I'm your host, do machine And joining me on the show today, our sister duo Catherine and Crystal from cocoa floss. Everyone hates it when the dentist tells you to floss, it's like that thing that you know you need to do. You know, or prevent most of the issues with your teeth and gums, yet you just don't do it. And you certainly don't meet many people who say they love flossing.

Right well, Crystal and Catherine are setting out to change that and change the way that people think about flossing. They set out to make it a ritual to love instead of something that was a total pain in the butt by tapping into human behavior and taking note from brands who create stunning packaging and products that women actually want to highlight on their bathroom shelf. E coca floss sets out to create a beautifully packaged pace that you're proud to display at the front and center of your bathroom cabinet to keep it front of mind. They also took other pain points like how it felt between your teeth, the color of the floss, the smell of the floss and even what it's made from to flip the current experience upside down and make this a ritual that you actually enjoy doing every single day. This episode got me wanting to floss immediately and I hope it does the same for you. This is crystal and Catherine for female startup club. Yeah, yeah. It's safe to say that most of us have been doing more online shopping lately, right?

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We currently have an introductory offer on the website for $149.30 dollars from every sale is proudly donated to the Malala Fund, a charity that's working towards a world where every girl can learn and lead female startup cup precincts. Welcome to the show ladies. I'm so happy to have you here. Thanks Stephen. Thanks for inviting us. Mm I always kick off with an introduction to who you are and what your company is. So could you give us the rundown? Yeah. So I'm crystal, I'm a dentist and Catherine is my sister. Um, and uh, we started coco floss a bit over five years ago or we launched our product a bit over five years ago, mostly out of sheer frustration on my part, um, as a dentist and I can go into that more if you like. But um, yeah, yeah, that's basically where it started. Yeah, yeah, amazing. We'll definitely dig into that for sure. I want to hear all about it and I just firstly also want to say that your product is so much fun and for the first time in my life I literally was like, oh my gosh, I actually want to floss after looking, you know at your products and reading about what you guys are doing and how you really disrupted this industry, which I personally have felt that struggle that you guys have obviously honed in on Arthur.

So usually we get started by going back to life before Coco floss what you were doing. Obviously you just said you're a dentist, but what kind of prompted this um this business and what got you interested in launching it, you know, the lightbulb moment. Um So I had been a dentist for a handful of years already and I was in a unique situation because I was doing all of my own dental hygiene and most of the dental practices here in the United States. Um we hire dental hygienists and they do all the hygiene visits with their patients and that's usually the model works great for in my circumstance, I was doing all my own dental hygiene and so I was spending very significant portion of my time day to day at work just educating patients on, you know, oral diseases, gum disease, tooth decay. Moreover, I was treating diseases after they've already occurred. Which was really frustrating to me because Basically, people would come in and I want to say it's like 99% of them.

Um you know, I'm telling them, oh, you have gum disease, you have tooth decay and it was just, it was just really sad. I felt um like I felt like, you know what I am, I really helping people, you know, I'm just treating problems after they've occurred. I really, you know, wish I could have make a more positive impact on these people's lives because I'm just trying to help them, you know, manage diseases. So then I realized, you know the big missing piece was their own um understanding of how the disease happened and also what they could do to prevent it. And that's where the big life ball came in. Because I became obsessed with floss. I realize floss, I realize that none of my patients were flossing and you know, flossing is really the only way to clean in between your teeth. And you know, most of the cavities that I treat involve surfaces in between the teeth and likewise any gum diseases occur in between the teeth and so cleaning between the teeth is paramount and no one was doing again. And that's when I wrote to my sister Catherine.

It must be so frustrating because it's totally preventable. Exactly. Yeah, so much of it is preventable and you know, I, I tried so hard to explain to my patients why they need to floss, Some just like them, how they need to floss when they need to floss. It's really not that difficult, but no matter like how many different ways I tried to tell the story and how interesting I tried to make it sound or um, I just had no success in convincing them to do it. And my sister is an example of that she was in my average patient, you know, she would get her teeth cleaned regularly by me. Um and I would have that same conversation with her, like your guns are bleeding, she have plaque here, this is not looking so good, we need to take better. I Crystal would tell me this is cat and Crystal tell me, you know, you need to floss and I'm like, I'm not gonna floss, like, I don't know, I just like I barely even I struggle to brush my teeth. Are you gonna get, I imagine you're also like, hey, I have a dentist as a sister, like I'm sweet.

Yeah, yeah, christian have done my teeth in the living room before, it's been great. Yeah. So anyways, um Katherine has that luxury being cavalier about it, but you know, honestly, even, you know, I only have one sibling and everybody else is not my sibling and nobody else's flossing either. So I realized this was a big problem and I, and I, you know, then I started to kind of like focus on like, okay, what is the problem with floss? Why aren't people flossing? And I realized I didn't even have a favorite floss myself. Um and so then you kind of just start to pick apart, like why don't I have a favorite floss or what is it, what are the attributes of the most ideal floss and I couldn't find a floss that meet those criteria. And so that's when I realized I became obsessed with glass and actually I tinkered around with it um by myself for a little while and I didn't get very far because I was practicing full time as a dentist and winning a dental practices is also, you know, it's running a business so it's all consuming, there's just not much free time to work on a product.

And that's where Katherine came in and that's like where things really started happening. Um I managed to convince my sister to join me and so then this is where Catherine triple share what she was doing before she started cooking floss. Yes. Yes, please please do. Well, yeah, I was actually um I had quit my job in finance and I was actually working on an art startup at the time that I had this grand vision of creating a marketplace where people could commission art from local artists. And so Crystal actually help me with that start up while we were betting that idea. So much fun. We're just meeting artists and learning about their stories and trying to help them share their unique lens on the world and and everything. But well I found it was it was really hard after spending six months trying to convince all of my friends and family specifically the wealthier ones because original art is pretty expensive to buy art. Like I looked for all my friends like who here in san Francisco a soul to tech company, you could probably afford art.

Yeah, actually trying to help match them with original art, but I found that you know, it was just a market that was too hard. It was hard to get people to pay for original art. Um, and so you know, but you know why that wasn't working out, I still really wanted to start my own company and I guess do something more closely related to the arts overall. And so Crystal actually convinced me to look at floss with her when art wasn't working out. I remember it was a really sad day, I was in a conference room where we diagrammed out everything I had learned about the art market, where I thought there were opportunities and what I had learned and you know, all my hypotheses about the market and that where there might be interest for, we're coming out invalidated. And then it was that same day when chris will like drew a new bubble for me, it's like here's the dentist like yours, dentistry and hear all my problems as a dentist. And she would basically tell me, you know, cat you don't even need to do market research because I know that you know this is a problem, everyone needs to pull off.

She was just, she had so much conviction that there was a big opportunity in dentistry. And so she convinced me to kind of join her on that bandwagon and her convinced me actually wasn't a simple process either. I was really skeptical as someone who didn't floss and didn't really understand the problem of gum disease or, or really anything related to dentistry. I made her show me firsthand that there was a problem. And so what made you change your mind just by seeing loads of women experiencing these issues? Yeah, I guess it was a mix. Um well I guess for the first time I started just asking my friends about their, their habits at home and about their personal, um, oral health. And I kind of learned like I go to happy hours and I've always had people like, hey, do you boss like for like, have you had cavities? And I found that like all my friends and I was in my like late twenties at the time, everyone was saying like that they had had cavities or that, you know, their gums bleed or that, you know, they knew that they should be flossing more frequently though they're not.

So I was like, wow, this is really interesting. Like they're a bunch of like young, relatively healthy people and everyone's saying that they're struggling with with oral health. Um, you know, that's not something that we often talk about, like when asked everyone has a personal story related to their teeth health. Um, and then another thing that we did Crystal helped me structure to further convince me that this was a real problem, um, will be hosted in 21 days lost challenge. So basically we invited all of our friends on facebook too Lost daily for 21 days And you know the beginning of the survey, we asked people about their current flossing habits, like how frequently are you flossing if you weren't flossing very frequently, why aren't you flossing frequently? And then we have them floss for 21 days and then afterwards we pulled them again and you know, we learned kind of about What happened after they started flossing for 21 days and I guess begin, we survive red, it's like, wow okay, most people aren't flossing so they are struggling with some form of gum disease and most people aren't flossing because flossing supposedly boring and they haven't built a habit and it makes their gums blade so it's uncomfortable.

But we learned that after 21 days of flossing daily. Well I guess people, you know people who are earning it. Yeah. And so I think, yeah, I think like my kind of big takeaway was flashing is really an acquired taste. So kind of like you don't appreciate what clean feels like until you kind of been flossing regularly to appreciate that new feeling and I think it's a bit akin to working out like unless you've been running regularly, you might not appreciate the benefits of working out or running every day. So that was kind of a, yeah, that, that really for me proved, proved have proved out this opportunity. Like I wanted to see um firsthand what crystal saw every day in her donald practice and those survey results. Um I think for what finally convinced me it's so funny because everything that you're saying is just so me, it is so things that I have experienced and that I try, you know, I know the importance of flossing. I really have gone through multiple times where I'm like okay I'm going to create a habit, I'm going to get into that.

I'm actually a really good habit at the moment to be honest, but I dip in and out of these habits and um and I think it's so cool that you started with the challenge because truly once the habit is there it's just so much easier and it doesn't feel daunting. You don't wake up being like oh I feel guilty, I didn't floss last night. It's just building, starting that, you know marketing it I guess that way is a really interesting way to get people into it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then going back to the habit like well why wasn't forcing to happen and I think in part it was in part it's cultural and another part of it is I think that people aren't informed on how gum disease works and why flossing is important. So I think we realized well you know we need to help folks build the habit but also to help educate folks on why why and how flossing can help prevent oral disease because I think, I mean personally, you know, I feel like often we fall off of habits like we can have a habit going for, you know every day I've been doing every day for two months now and then something changes or you get lazy and you stop doing it.

But I think to get people to return to that habit, like the educational piece is so important. Um and another thing we realized, there's another thing I did every time I went out like bars or happy hours, I'd ask people, hey do you know how come disease works? And it's like I've learned that no one really knew what it was like this chick has great conversations. She wants to ask me about my gum disease. Yeah, it was actually such a great conversation starter actually. If you ever want to just meet someone randomly at a bar and have it not the offer, just ask them, do you floss because no one, everyone has a response to that question and it always leads to an interesting conversation about gum disease or about like rural health and like what a paint it is. It's just like, it's just like a universal challenge for people, wow I love that I'm going to start doing that instead of asking do you work out you do you fly? Do you even floor? But even, oh my gosh, yeah, but I think what we learned is like no one really understands what, what is gum recession people hear about gum recession and they think oh my gums are getting lower and it took, I had chris to explain how gum recession works to me probably a dozen to two dozen times before it really sunk in with me to like really understand how that yeah, what makes your gums received.

But most people don't understand that. So that kind of part of what we're trying to do, coke off losses to help help people understand how all these variables interact so that you know, if they ever get to lose that habit that they're incentivized and they have a reason to return to it again. I'm definitely going to ask you about that after this episode. Okay, so how does one go about starting a floss company. It's something I haven't spoken to anyone who's been in this niche before, so I have absolutely no idea. How does one manufacturer of loss, where do you even get started and how long does it take? Well, uh we just, I mean it's so not glamorous or elegant how you start. It's just, I mean, I think the number one is just having the conviction behind whatever it is that you want to do and that I was just so obsessed with this flossing problem. And so I mean, well I literally would just like go shopping for like different materials and just see like, well first of all you look at what was existing right and pick apart like what was good or bad about it.

And then it's like okay, what is this made out of? And and then I would just like shop like on amazon or like at the fabric store and look for different like materials and see like what qualities of this material make it superior and its cleaning efficacy. Um and that's, that's kind of like where we started like literally Catherine. I combed the beach one morning looking at like strands of seaweed, evaluating like could this work like no joke. We tried all kinds of materials in our mouths and in between our teeth. Remember flossing with my hair many times to, it doesn't work. Here's friends. Oh my God, that's hilarious. Yeah. So I mean we literally, I mean this is this cost like very not very much money to do it. Just like literally just file an error. Yeah, like the first step is, you know, if you want to make anything new, you need to first, you know what you want to make and you can do that by, you know, you basically want to create prototype. It's a physical product, you can use plato, you could use craft materials, you use 3D printing.

But basically if you have an idea of what you want created, then you go look for a manufacturing partner to help make that for you. and there are trade fairs, you can go to often industry specific. So like for instance, if you want to make a medical device, their medical device manufacturing trade fairs that you can go visit. Um, and there you can meet, Yeah, all the potential manufacturers and share with them your idea and see if they would be a good fit to help execute upon that for you. Yeah, But it's, it's kind of like anything, it's building. You know, first you have an idea and then you need to share that idea and get someone else excited about it convinced then that you're worth investing in because when you find a manufacturing partner like, yes, you'll pay them for be a product, but they're also taking a big risk with you because for any, you know, new product, they need to invest in creating space for you and they're manufacturing line, creating time for you in their schedule. And for any startup is always a bit of a risk. Like I think these factories are often have people place one order and then the business doesn't work out and then they weren't repeating orders.

And so that turns out to be a loss for them. So basically you need to, before you reach out to partners, you need to have a, an idea, you have to have true excitement about the problem you're trying to solve and a prototype and idea of ready to share with potential partners. So what we did, I'm telling what Catherine was saying, We basically pitched an idea to our friends and family. We photoshopped what we thought our floss would look like and described as attributes. We basically marketed are floss to our friends and family and we had them preorder it before we even made an initial run of our floss just because because of the investment. So we kind of like de risked the initial investment and that was an important test to because sure, like maybe we can make the best glass, but if we can't convey the need to buy a special or different for us to other people, then what business do we have? I mean, so we have the prototype.

But we actually just kind of just floated the idea and um got preorders for it and that's what we're like, okay, we could do this. It wasn't even a lot. Yeah. You got that early like validation. There's people who are ready To buy. Yeah, yeah. And when we're talking about pre orders early Chris and I were excited about maybe like 12 people to start. And then it picked up from there. But that was enough to get out and these were like 12 people paying I think $6 apiece. So we were like some kind about that though. Yeah. Oh my gosh, so cool. And that leads me on to something I wanted to ask you guys about which is the price point of your product and how you sort of set about defining who your audience would be and whether you were going to kind of go that fashion luxury vibe through really cool retailers like goop and and Sephora and that kind of avenue or to go down the supermarket route of the $3 price point. I want to understand like where you kind of how you figured out where you were going to position your brand well.

Um I mean that is I guess this is part of understanding the whole um the existing problem. So um and when you understand, okay like where do people buy floss, where do they get it? Most people actually there's no delight factor in purchasing floss or previously there never was um most people would say, well one they didn't even know what floss they were using, they would say it's just the floss that my dad just gave me. And mind you those are very very short lengths of floss. They're meant to last for a week. But the average person will let that little sample size last them almost a year. And so they you know and then so the shopping experience is not delightful in any way and then you go to like the drug store and everything looks so similar. Everything is so generic. Um And it's not delightful it anyway so where is like you know as women specifically like we find a light in you know just perusing through the aisles of Sephora and just discovering products that way. Also you know for example Anthropology which is one of our current retailers.

That was a big inspiration for me also because here we are in a store like selling somewhat mundane things. I mean we're talking about bars of soap but like all of a sudden it's so delightful to shop for bargains because they can smell them, you can touch them, they're beautiful. Um And shopping for soap of Anthropology is so different from shopping for soap at the drug store. So that's kind of what we were thinking. Um I was thinking about also how dental floss as it was. It was something that was so hideous that people would put it in the back of their medicine cabinet. Um You know nowadays people actually are very proud of what they put in their medicine cabinet. They called the shell fie um Certainly. Yeah. Yeah it would be hiding behind something more beautiful or they put it inside the drawer, it's never on the counter. But then you know you'll buy like the $35 candle and be willing to display it even if you're not using the candle because it's too expensive to burn but you're willing to pay for that candle and put it on your countertop because it's beautiful and so I was thinking um that will be wonderful to have a floss that people would probably display on your countertop because I think being able to see it is also really important for habit building.

How can you remember to floss every day if you don't even see it, you need to go to your bathroom every day and just see the floss right there. That's part of my routine. I'm gonna I'm gonna use that every day. Oh my gosh, so true. Yeah, so in another part of pricing um also does need to be practical, so I'm still kind of surprised every day how hard it is to make money as a business owner like, and for now I I really appreciate um Not that I appreciate high prices, but you know, I used to be someone who, you know, if I saw a lotion that was $15 instead of you know, three, it's like I might balk at that was like, like they're just trying to rip us off or what is this in my paying just for the color. But you know, I think when you're starting a business, you also need to obviously do bottoms up analysis where you just sum up your costs and the reality is when you're starting small, when you're starting out and when you're buying things in lower volumes, you're going to have a higher cost basis and if you want to, you know, make you know, invest in higher quality ingredients or for instance, like with our packaging, we've invested in using um 100% recycled papers and all of our packaging, like all that costs a little bit more and then and then another big cost, especially if you're doing e commerce is shipping and that's super expensive.

I think with all the amazon prime shipping, people assume it's free, but I really like that you have people's time to assemble the order, you have postage costs, but you're now $3 in order, you know, $3 is like the starting right and all that really adds up. So you know, as we were thinking about the price of our our floss, we were also thinking about, well what what could support everything we, not everything we want to do, but what could we even sell without losing money just starting out and we wanted to be able to sell a single unit to people so people could try it out And at least break even there. And so I think when we started at $6, that was pretty fringe. Um and also the thing when you're starting a business from scratch, like all your costs are artificially low because you're probably not paying yourself, you probably have like Legions of family members who are helping you, but you know, at the time we thought $6 like was just enough that you know that would enable us to sell a single unit while covering the postage and the product costs and all of that.

So I mean, you know, people always talk about what our retail markups over the cost of goods sold in. You know, you need to make sure that you have enough profit to pay yourself and your teammates properly. Um, and to have money left over to continue invest in innovation and your brand and distribution, there's a lot to be profitable. Yeah. Yeah, totally. What I really love about everything you have both just said is like you really tapped into the true consumer like human behavior behind flossing like wanting it to be beautiful so that it's you know out because it's so true. It's always the thing that's at the back. You always forget about it. Um, I think everything you're saying is just so you literally just speak to my call of someone who is like as the floss issue. I love that. That's amazing. I still have an issue. Well I get off the bandwagon like every now and then and then I do have to remind myself like I like, I do understand how gum recession works and crystal showed me pictures of how people look as they age if they don't take your guns and it's not pretty like if, if you like receding gums will make you look older.

Like if you just took a picture of your face and Photoshop your gums to make them look, You know, five lower than they are probably look probably 5 to 10 years old or two. Yeah. The habit needs to start in school. It should be done every day like from preschool, It should be like brought in that like you have a flossing time like at school. And then the habit is there like 12 years later and it's it's locked in for the rest of your life versus trying to start at 30 right? Yeah. Kind of like brushing your teeth right? Like I wouldn't thank not to brush my teeth like ever. Yeah, exactly. I want to get into the marketing and how you guys first started finding your early customers aside from your friends and family. What were you doing to acquire people in the early days and growing the brand and spreading like word of mouth and that kind of thing. Yeah. Well I think to start we um to start we made sure that all of my dental colleagues got to try our product because for our product, once you try it, it's hard to switch back to a regular floss.

So um fortunately having gone to dental school here and having a great network of dental friends um I was able to have as many as of like all of them really try my try our floss. And um they loved it. And so that kind of started the initial momentum because as a dentist or dental professional dental hygienist all day every day just like I was you're talking about inter dental cleaning and flossing and so um and it was the same instant calm everyone has, it's like well yeah you want me to fall stock but what should I buy then? Fine I'll floss what should I buy and there was no recommendation. There was no favorite. Um And so now Coco floss is the dental dentists favorite. Um And that was huge for us. Yes gosh that is just such a win to get it into the hands of all the people who can recommend it to your ideal customer. Mm. Yeah I think it's important when you're starting off to focus your marketing efforts on you want to find the people who are going to help you continue to sell your products so figure out like who loves your product most.

Like if you just you've seated your product to you like 10 different categories and types of people like Oh I'm giving it to well maybe I should use the dental floss example but like for instance the down boss like we tried giving it to just friends like um and they tended to see you towards like female but you know they'd use it and like yeah they had a great experience um But they weren't necessarily raving about it but we found that you know the dentist okay you gave it to them and now they were using it and how they were like they were they wanted to join our company. They we hadn't even started there like oh my gosh like we want to help you. Like I want to give this to every patient. Can I preorder like, so you want to figure out who is going to really evangelista? Yeah. Who are you? Really? And what's that? The word? Right? It just makes things so much easier, especially if you don't have a marketing budget. So I think we identified pretty early on that our dentists would be our biggest advocates and biggest cheerleaders.

And so um, you, in addition to Crystal's Donald school network, we actually did, you know, chris and I really not that hard, but we kind of taught ourselves how to how to do sales. Um, but there was no way we took all sorts of like online sales training courses on how to cold call, how to attract, you know, warm leads, cold leads to follow ups. We set called targets each day. I forget what it was. But we had like we were trying to close like five new Donald practices a day through cold calling. It was when we say close by the way, clothes met, um, at the time willingness for the dental practice to receive your sample because um, in the democrat because being a dentist, I know we get all kinds of mail every day and with samples in it and I saw it as junk. Like it would often go straight into the trash and it's such a waste. I hate that. Right? So for us to get like a, like a positive lead was like somebody who picked up the phone and said, sure I'll try your floss. Okay, go ahead and send it to me.

Because then that way we knew that our precious laws wasn't going to go straight into the trash can mm totally. Had you had to order like a crazy, you know, minimum order or was it acceptable when you were first starting out? It was acceptable. Yeah. At the time I think we put an initial order of like $10,000 worth of floss at the time. It sounded like so much. But you know, now now that we're a little more versed in manufacturing, I think that that was pretty, you know, um Yeah, pretty sounds like a lot to me. Yeah. Oh my gosh. And so where is the company today? And what kind of marketing efforts do you do to acquire people now? Is it the same or have you kind of stumbled across some, some new ways to bring people into your net? Yeah, it's a bit of both actually next year. So for 2020 you know, unfortunately a lot of our dental partners, I think it's just been a rough year for everyone with Covid, especially for dental practices for dentists and hygienists as folks have had to kind of close their dental practices and everyone's kind of had this fear of seeing the dentist for fear of getting Covid and all that.

But dentists really remain. I think our most loyal segment of our customer base and in terms of how we're like getting you down practices to use coca floss. Um it's still actually very similar but you know, Crystal and I aren't doing all the cold calls anymore and I'm like really happy about that. But like like next year, like hopefully if the world can return to normal, um we're excited about actually beginning to test out a bit of like a dental outreach program very similar to what Crystal and I did when we were first starting the company. But basically we'll send samples to Donald practices and follow up with them over emails and phone calls to see if they would be interested in incorporating coco pops in there. Don't practice. So that's like pretty traditional sales. But in addition to that, you know, of course we we now have been investing in continuing to just kind of diversify our channel, mix in the digital marketing realm. So yeah, when we first started a company actually, you know, we worked with dentists and then we also bought a lot of our early customers, just their facebook and instagram just organically.

Like we're posting every day and trying to tag people to amplify the social reach of each of our post. But you know, as a online e commerce business. A lot of our early customers came in just through our social feeds now that we've matured a bit, you know, we are spending into facebook for prospecting and google lots of for prospecting. I'm continuing to learn about new channels all the time. Princes like here, everyone's talking about Tiktok now. So that's something I've been telling Crystal. Maybe we should consider Tiktok. Oh my God, you should. Yeah. Tiktok is the best. Yeah. But once you kind of like get traction and once you have a marketing budget, it took us years to finally realize like, wow, we actually have a marketing budget. Like there actually is a budget for things. Um and like a real budget. Like Crystal and I are finally getting paid and there was a marketing budget. Like I'm still kind of like amazed at that because it was actually still like a relatively recent recent thing that happened. I was like, I can't believe that now there is a company with a real budget we can hire people and I feel like we're looking for, you know, we're continuing to build out our marketing team and we're kind of at a different, yeah, different phase now.

But yeah, there are all sorts of ways to get in front of people. That's so exciting. Cool. I love that for you guys having your own marketing budget and being able to kind of take a breath and be like, let's bring in more people to build our vision and spread the good word about flossing. Thank you. What advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to launch their own company? Well uh definitely first, I think having conviction in yourself is really important and then having conviction and what it is that you want to do. So there's a t number one things and I think going back to the first thing um just knowing that you can do anything is really important because I think that a lot of people just doubt themselves or they look at what other people do and like I don't know how they do that, I could never do that. But the truth is like any one of us can do whatever we want and we can be anything we want to be, you just have to put your mind to it and it is a lot of hard work but deciding that you're going to do it is the number one. That's what I think, I love that.

Yeah, I love that. And what about you, Katherine, what's your advice? Yeah, I'd say to really just um put on a hat of being committed to learning and just learning something new every day and getting one step closer everyday, not even every day, you might Get like five steps were far behind and then the next day I get like 10 steps closer, but really it's like. you know, I need to get to any gold. It's really, I think if you're committed to being just really honest with yourself about what you're learning on that journey and if you keep kind of redirecting as needed, you'll kind of get to that goal. But yeah, I kind of look at, I don't know before when we were kind of trying to floss, I when I, when I was just looking at started company, I thought of it a bit like we're panning for gold, like we have this idea, we're trying to figure out who's most excited about the idea we have to share. And we're just like tapping. Like we're like out there in the river trying to see like, oh, this is their signals, maybe not and oh, there wasn't and we'll go travel and find another river and like trying to look for the signal, but just a lot of trial and error.

And even to this day now that we're like the different days where we're scaling the company, but anytime we do anything, you know, we have an idea and we're just going to test it in small ways and keep learning from these tests to get us closer to that ultimate goal. But yeah, I think it's christmas that don't be intimidated by, you know, the magnitude of the goal, but realize that yeah, everything is uh a journey comprised of a lot of small and incremental steps. Yeah, yeah, I really liked that analogy. That's so nice and you guys definitely struggled. So that's really, we're up to the six quick questions part of the episode. And usually what I do is I'll run through it with someone first and then we'll run through the second time separately. So I will start with crystal question #1 is what's your why? Uh huh That's my wife. Um Well I think it's awful that like gum disease and tooth decay has become so commonplace that people think it's normal.

Um and I'm talking about seeing it in everyone's mouths from executives to people that I treated like community clinics to um little Children that I see in the Philippines. You know, this problem affects everyone of all socioeconomic statuses and I'd really, really love to see what we could do to kind of make a dent in that because it's so painful seeing how afflicted we human beings are by these issues. I totally love that. Love that for me. There are people people like you out there spreading the message. Question number two is what's been the number one marketing moment that's made your business pop? I think it was when Gwyneth Paltrow's blog goop mentioned us. I remember it was December, I think it was December 2015, so we're fairly young and to have goop feature us was just you know, that was like so exciting for us and I feel like that really put us put you know, give us the attention of some other publications and that kind of just snowballed into us being a cool brand.

Yes, I imagine that would have been crazy and so exciting Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading? What are you listening to? What do you do to get smarter? I'm either on audible or reading anytime I have a free moment, you know the audiobook app and what am I reading? Um I read a lot of health related stuff. I'm kind of I'm really into it, I'm overly into it but I read a lot of key things. Um overall health things. Yeah, I'm always recommending books to people. I think my pain patients are probably tired of it. But every time I think I have another book that I'm book titled that I'm writing on a poster for them and telling them to read, I'll have a little library in my office with like actually I made like little library slip cards in there too so that I could lend books out to people. And honestly I don't get a lot of them, don't get a lot of them back because I don't think my patients have time to read them so they hold on to them indefinitely. But I just want I want patients to understand the problems so I think that's really important and so I don't mind having, you know, I don't mind giving books away if as long as they're willing to read them.

What's the number one recommendation you have? What book on teeth should I be reading? You should read the Deadpool diet by dr Stephen Lynn, he is an Australian dentist and when I saw that book came out in 2018 I think I was like, oh my God, like I could have written this book. I mean in terms of not, not to discredit him, like he is a brilliant for writing it, but like it just basically spoke to exactly how I felt about the problem and had I not been doing cocoa floss, I I think I wish I could have helped dr steven lim with his book because it resonates with me so much amazing, I'm gonna check it out. Question number four is how do you win the day? And that's around your am and PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and motivated and successful. Mm How do I win the day? Well, I feel like, I don't know, I guess I feel very lucky about, I'm generally very happy every day just practicing gratitude daily is a really important thing. I'm just grateful for, you know, every everything that I'm blessed with, maybe that comes from seeing, you know, being in very, very desperate places, you know, like visiting like very, very poor countries and seeing what living is like there and I just feel like I'm almost spoiled.

Really, I like I live in California, the sun shines most of the time I worked with my sister who is my best friend. Um So yeah, I have a, I have a baby girl now, she's five months old. Um so I don't even know what it is, but I just feel really happy and blasting. I love that. That's amazing. Question. Number five is if you only had $1000 left in your business bank account, where would you spend it? Mm that's a tough one because Catherine knows this about me. Like I like to give, like if if Katherine didn't help me, the cocoa floss would have been a nonprofit and that's would have died a long time ago. I think about the $1000 actually would go very, very far at this community clinic that I work in, in the Philippines um where we're trying to help this one school become tooth decay free, which would be a huge, I mean it actually, I think it already is, but it's, I think the first and only tooth decay free school in the Philippines, which is huge.

So that $1,000, you know, we could feed Children for monks or we could buy them floss. I mean that's that's a great answer, that's amazing. It means the business would be done. So because because there there there there through the money, but that's, that's what I think of. Last question question number six is how do you deal with failure? And it can be a personal experience or just your general mindset and approach, uh yeah, failure is hard, but I think just being willing to look at, look at in the eye and acknowledge, thought it was a failure I think is the best way to grow from it. It's almost easier to look away and not acknowledge that it was a failure and then move on. But I think just like, you know, owning up to the failure and just kind of like taking that in and seeing what you learned from it helps you grow and then move beyond it. Absolutely.

Catherine your turn, Are you ready? Oh yeah, and don't feel like you have to, I, you know, I don't think it's so funny, I'm actually super shy, I was thinking about this watching Crystal go through this, but I mean yeah, I'm happy to go through it, but this is Crystal went right, oh no, you're going through it, sure you gotta go through it. Those are all big questions. Yeah, they are, they're really good question. I love this part of the episode because you know, once I've done like 200 episodes, I'm going to be able to look back and see the trends that come out from all the women that I get to speak to and I just think it's so fascinating what people come up with and what their answers are. So, you know, it's for the greater good that you do it. Yeah, Okay. Question number one, what's your why I'm really excited about, I guess building the brand and about being able to over just impact people in a positive way and sometimes, you know, that's like really abstract and something I'm always thinking about, but I think one of the reasons why I have always want to start my own company um was I've always just been inspired by great brands, like I was like, I loved how inspirational, like Disney is, like Disney totally raised me, like I'm like all those cheesy shows, but they really shaped who I am and my values and I think in some ways, kind of yeah, they were very positive influence in my life and I love how inspirational Nike is and try and encourage people to get healthier and stronger.

Um and so I'm really interested in just continue to explore how can a brand help people become better versions of themselves. Yeah, it's so funny that you say both of those businesses because I can totally see both of those businesses in what you're doing, you know, you you're making people healthier and you have like, imagination and like dreaming into into your product inherently. So that's so awesome to hear that, I totally see it. Um Question number two in your eyes, what is the number one marketing moment that made your business pop? Oh um yeah, I think I have to agree with Crystal on that Gwyneth Paltrow on, on the group thing, there was something um yeah, I guess, you know that was our first retail partner actually and I think because yes she had built such an amazing brand and that that just helped really pull in other people who already really loved group and that philosophy and that audience was just so aligned with ours and I know a lot of entrepreneurs may pretty wonderful.

How do you even get something like to reach out to you? And actually the story behind that is actually that I think I had done some internet research on like Gwyneth Paltrow is assistance person. I was just trying to like cold male celebrities and I I found a contact online and I didn't even know this email would go through but I had reached out to him just randomly asking if he would be willing to share something with Gwyneth and I sent this individual samples and I think it was six or eight months later and then I heard Gwyneth actually had a chance to try it because she personally tried everything on her website. Um and then another six months later we were invited to place Coco false and goo oh wow, that's amazing. Really great strategy to get the assistance involved. I love that very nifty tip. So cool. Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? Yeah, I think um I really need, yeah, I guess I don't know, I got distracted Katherine's um I want to say Katherine's friend network is very talented, she went to stanford and her friends are all entrepreneurs and so just hanging out with her college girlfriends, she learned so much from them.

Um I learned from them too, I love that. That's really, yeah, it's unique. Mhm, definitely unique, definitely unique. Yeah, I mean I kind of like chris I think it's really, there is to say how much time I spend on instagram, but you know there are so many distractions, but I guess I'm someone who, I don't know like I haven't been, I don't really know why I started trying to learn french again, but like I really love french in high school and so these days I'm listening to like dueling, go in the car or I'll put on a podcast, you know related to entrepreneurship or the tech, but yeah, just always trying to expose myself to new ideas and also even downloaded master classes are like really fun short snippets where you can learn about it or wide right of topics from space to like at home gardening. So yes, totally. Such a great resource total. Side note, I have been absolutely addicted to Emily in paris and obviously it's just the best show ever things french related watch it because I think I'm going to get jealous, like, I mean I'm so jealous, you Will for sure it will make you want to give up your life and move that question # four is how do you win the day?

What's your am and PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and motivated and productive. Yeah um yeah, I guess I, no I haven't really looked forward to breakfast in the morning. I'll usually just start like, like thinking of like literal rituals. I usually just try to start with the healthy breakfast, like always have theories um and coffee and I'll tell him to take my time, I'll put on the news. Um I know I've been listening to France 24 recently, but I appreciate the French news because so they have a bit more international coverage and a little more arts and culture coverage. Yeah and then you know, if I could, if I can get, you know, task done throughout the day and make time for, you know, a couple walks with my dog and Aussie doodle um and find time in to work out and make a good dinner then you know, that's a great day. I guess you've won the day. Yeah, totally. Little simple things like having a moment outdoors.

Yeah, for sure. Question number five is if you only had $1000 left in your business bank account, where would you spend it? Yeah, I agree with Crystal, this is a really hard one and I'm gonna um probably take a really practical approach here, but I think I might get um I guess it depends on the state of the world, but assuming, yeah, I think I'd probably just invite people to pitch ideas to be actually, I think I yeah, and then I kind of take that approach. But um yeah, that's really cool. I haven't heard that before. Like what am I most excited about? Like, who do I think it's going to really take this and make an impact that I'm really jazzed about? Yeah, I love that. Very cool. And question # six, last question is how do you deal with failure? Yeah, I think, you know, I think maybe even don't think of failure as failure and and don't don't try it. I think what people think of failure, they're thinking of an outcome being closely tied to their personal identity.

But I think if you can disentangle your work from your identities, anything you do isn't a failure. It's just kind of part of the process of learning and of, you know, anytime you're doing anything new, um we're really pushing the boundaries of anything you're going to fail and that's just part of the process. So um yeah, I just realized that it's part of the process and it's part of if you can learn from each other, you've made progress and, you know, another step ahead totally. Uh guys, that was so awesome, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your story with me and what's been happening in the world of cocoa floss. I am such a fan. It is just so cool. Thank you so much dude, dude, we're gonna hopefully in the U. K. Soon. Hopefully. Oh my gosh, please come to the UK. Um working on it. Nice. I love that for me. Hey, it's just me here.

Thanks for listening to this amazing episode of the female startup club podcast. If you want to hear more, head to my instagram at Dune rasheen to see my filmed interviews with incredible female founders like Erica from fluffy Beauty Greta from drop bottle and Sammy leo from breeze bomb. And if you like what we're doing here, visit our website and sign up to female startup club dot com to get all of the good stuff delivered straight to your inbox and lastly subscribe to the female startup club podcast. Mhm.

“Do you even floss?” Cocofloss Founders Catherine & Chrystle Cu on changing the human behaviours behind flossing
“Do you even floss?” Cocofloss Founders Catherine & Chrystle Cu on changing the human behaviours behind flossing
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