What It's About
A librarian frustrated by the lack of eco-friendly floss takes a bite at creating her own.
Words of Wisdom
If you've ever thought, "why doens't this exist in the world" you may be on to something. Jodi saw a gap in the market and filled it.
Dental Lace got its name from a fellow traveler on a redeye flight to Maine. Jodi’s tried to find the businessman to thank him for the inspiration but hasn’t yet.
Notes from Chris
Episode 1105In 1998, high school librarian Jodi Breau was standing in the bathroom staring into a mirror, frustrated by the ugly container of dental floss in her hand. She was thinking that all that plastic couldn’t be a good thing for a person, or for the environment. Over the next few weeks, she found herself ranting about it to her coworkers until someone finally said, “Well, why don’t you do something about it?” And she did, though it took her almost twenty years to grow her idea from mild irritation to an eCommerce reality. As a librarian, her go-to planning method was detailed research, so she studied the ultracompetitive floss market, including every type of possible container. She also started talking to dentists, friends, family—anyone who would listen to her new obsession. Jodi’s vision was to design a refillable container that held dental floss made from natural fibers. She acquired an abundance of information over time, and eventually worked with a Chinese supplier. They put together an artistic glass container that could be refilled with 100% Mulberry silk floss. It eliminated the waste, the waxy feeling of plastic on people’s gums, and it looked a lot better in medicine cabinets than those little grey and white boxes. Between the different batches they tried, as well as various permits and licenses, Jodi spent a few thousand dollars over a few years. The experience taught her that she needed to learn more about the world of business before investing much more. Once again, the librarian took to her stacks, and found a “How to Start a Business" book that had been recently returned. This gave her the confidence, a couple years later, to invest another thousand dollars into more setup costs, including some branding and a website. But her plan wasn’t to rely on online sales—she was going to load her car with samples and a sales pitch, and do drop-in calls at natural food stores. Before she could hit the road, however, she sent a link to her new website to her sister, as more of an “FYI - Hey, look what I did!” Nancie, being a good sister, posted the link to Facebook, and by the end of the day, Jodi had multiple customers. By the end of the week, she had orders from across the country. Dental Lace was officially in operation. The name came from a chance conversation she had on an airplane, where a business traveler sitting next to her suggested it. Business grew rapidly through word-of-mouth (get it?!). A blogger included Dental Lace in her book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste, and the interest led to features in national magazines like Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, and Forbes. Jodi still hasn’t had time to celebrate her success, because the business has been growing so rapidly. Dental Lace made $80,000 in 2017, its first full year, and grew to $387,000 in the second year. This past year, the company earned over $500,000. The entire operation still operates out of a house, though it has taken over more space. Along with her husband, who joined up as CFO, she also has two full-time employees and several contractors. Her background as a librarian and dedication to a cause has paid off.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Dental Lace: Get your own eco-friendly dental floss from Jodi's website.
- Brand Strategist and Dentist Team Up To Sell Coconut Oil Mouthwash: Two friends draw on their combined skills and understanding of an ancient Ayurvedic practice to launch a natural mouthwash product, building a $7,000/month side hustle.
- It’s All Smiles For Two Friends Brushing Away Bacteria: In search of a side hustle, two Australian friends learn to import toothbrushes from the U.S., earning $30,000 in profit.
- Orthodontist Bites Off Solution to Teeth-Pulling Problem: An orthodontist sets out to invent a modern alternative to the age-old practice of pulling teeth.
Download Episodes By Months
Season 6 (2022): JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL |
Season 5 (2021): JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC |
Season 4 (2020): JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC |
Season 3 (2019): JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC |
Season 2 (2018): JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC |
Season 1 (2017): JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC |
CREATE YOUR ONLINE STORE
Create your online store with Shopify using an exclusive discount for Side Hustle School listeners. For a limited time, get a free 21-day trial and a 10% discount for a whole year.
Many Side Hustle School listeners are building sites using Shopify's easy-to-learn platform. Try it free today!
GET YOUR FIRST 1,000 EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS
Social media is nice, but building an email list is still the single best way to get customers and clients for your hustle. It's not hard to get started—sign up for a 30-day trial and join the list-building challenge! You’ll be up and running in no time.
Quote of the Day
Sponsors & Gratitude
Don't Do Business Without It
Side Hustle School is brought to you by American Express.
No matter what you do in business, from working nine-to-five to working five-to-nine, it’s easier when you don’t go it alone. Get the powerful backing of American Express—don't do business without it! 💳
Like the Show? Leave a Rating!
Side Hustle School is for you! If you’re enjoying it, please take a quick moment to leave a rating or write a quick review. It's really easy and it makes a difference! ✅
It also makes a huge difference when you tell your friends about the show. Remember, it's 100% free and listener-supported.
Keep in Touch
There’s a new story every single day on Side Hustle School. Episodes are produced to be short and to the point—I know you’re busy. Be sure you subscribe to get instant notification of the day’s broadcast!
To infinity and beyond,