LONDON — Beauty entrepreneur Natalie Quail is putting her money where her mouth is, with a brand called SmileTime that offers home whitening kits that are vegan-friendly, sustainable and affordable.
SmileTime’s founder is also looking to put oral care back into the hands of consumers (rather than dentists) and over the next few months, the brand plans to launch two more product categories, lip care and clear aligners.
Quail, who was an international tax lawyer, launched her company with the help of her parents who run a dental company in London. She said her goal is to modernize some aspects of aesthetic dentistry.
“I recognized that everyone wants a brighter smile but for the majority of the population, it is just too expensive and painful because you have to sit in a chair for at least an hour to get your teeth whitened,” she said.
SmileTime’s first and best-selling product, the teeth-whitening kit, was born from that need. It’s an at-home teeth-whitening kit that comes with three tubes of whitening gel to be used in two applications; a mouth tray; and an LED light that retails at 40 pounds. Most of the components of the kit are sustainably made, and are all vegan-friendly.
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“People don’t realize how much plastic is actually in oral care, like your toothbrush, toothpaste and toothbrush covers. Where we can, we are trying to cut out plastics. However, for some clinical products, we still need to keep the plastic casing for hygiene purposes,” said Quail.
Her most sustainable products are her bamboo toothbrushes, which are biodegradable. Other whitening products, such as her charcoal powder, are made from recycled packaging.
“Teeth whitening in the U.K. is searched 800,000 times on a monthly basis, and there is a massive market that is set to expand globally by about 10 percent,” she added.
In the next few weeks, Quail plans to roll out clear aligners for teeth straightening, similar to Invisalign. It will be available in dental practices.
She is looking to create an alternative to Invisalign, partnering with dentists, adding that her company will be offering a monthly payment plan of around 60 to 100 pounds for the full service of around 1,500 to 2,000 pounds.
On top of this, Quail will be rolling out a lip-care range. It will include lip balms made from products that come from the Amazonian rainforest, which stretches into Quail’s home country of Guyana. She is also developing a brush-for-brush scheme to be rolled out next year. With every whitening kit sold, she will be giving a toothbrush to a child in need.
That’s not all: SmileTime has been successful so far with direct-to-consumer selling, with some 60 percent of online sales coming directly via Instagram. Now it’s time to pivot, and Quail said that this year will be heavily retailer-focused.
“That is the next step to our strategy, because it is my view that a multicomponent business model is the best way forward. We want to have a robust online presence and I think it’s a testament that 100 percent of our business has been developed online in six months. We launched in July 2019.
However, we’ve done surveys and our customers like to buy stuff in store. So we will be looking at two different retail arms. We are looking at Boots and at Tesco for the wider demographic like our teeth-whitening pen. For our premium products like the bamboo toothbrush and whitening kit, because they are more expensive, we will be looking at Net-a-porter, Lookfantastic and Cult Beauty,” Quail said.
Quail is not alone: SmileTime is tapping into the rising oral cosmetics industry, which according to the British Beauty Council’s latest report, is a growing section of the beauty industry contributing to 4.8 billion pounds to the country’s GDP in 2018.
“Oral cosmetics is part of the emerging beauty markets, and is gaining traction because people realize their smile is so fundamental to their sense of self that they are investing in it more.”
In the past few years, other oral-care companies have pushed into the beauty sector. They include the American company Smile Direct Club, HiSmile and Moon Cosmetics by Kendall Jenner.