“If we do our job right, we have a real chance at advancing human health and reducing the harm done to the planet.” This isn’t the sort of thing you expect to hear from your dentist. But the entrepreneurs behind a new oral care brand called ELIMS are looking at the bigger picture.
“Basically, everyone on the planet has to brush their teeth. It is one thing just about every human must do, so ELIMS has a real opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and waste in your oral care routine without compromising the planet further,” Belinda Lau, tells me. She’s a biomedical and material science engineer who got into the personal care business in 2019 when she and Dr. Casey Lau DDS began to develop the products that would eventually launch the brand into the consumer marketplace.
Dr. Casey Lau DDS (who happens to be Belinda’s husband) has been practicing general dentistry in the Los Angeles, California, area for over 21 years and serves as the Chief Dental Offices of the ELIMS brand.
Making smile care planet-friendly
“All of our products,” explains Belinda Lau (who’s quoted throughout this piece), “are crafted by dentists, biotechnologists, and environmental experts; and ELIMS combines seriously effective oral care with real sustainability.”
On the brand website, the ELIMS team acknowledges that “Oral care is…a very prominent plastic waster.” So there’s quite an opportunity to improve the category by reducing waste.
ELIMS works with the Carbonfree Partnership Program to offset the brand’s footprint. “We specifically invest in projects that support reforestation and renewable energy,” explains the ‘Our Promise’ page on elims.co. And the brand will accept its own products as well as all other brands’ oral care products back for recycling through TerraCycle.
The ELIMS electric toothbrush replacement brush heads are made with “responsibly sourced bamboo,” and are designed to fit brushes already in the marketplace (and consumers’ homes), namely the Philips Sonicare 3, 6, and 9 Series brushes.
Oral care for your teeth, you gums, and your bacteria
In July of 2021 when the brand launched, the ELIMS portfolio was only three products deep, comprising two nano-hydroxyapatite toothpastes and a dissolving teeth whitening kit. Today, the brand also offers the brush heads and an assortment of product bundles. And Lau tells me that there are plans to launch a line for kids; and that further products—top secret for now—are in the works. “We are,” she says, “committed to bringing out products to complete the oral care routine, from start to finish.”
She did tell me, however, that the protection and care of the oral microbiome is likely to figure into the brand’s innovations going forward. “I would LOVE to have probiotics and more antioxidants in our products,” says Lau, pointing out that, “oral healthcare is linked to so many other diseases [and] that it is important to have full protection in everything we do.”
And when asked what ingredient she’d like to include in ELIMS product formulations that she simply hasn’t yet found, she told me that it’s a “pre- pro- or post-biotic that helps foster a healthy oral biome.”
Putting your money where your mouth is
You may have noticed by now that ELIMS is ‘smile’ spelled backwards. Lau tells me that’s because, “it's all about the smile you see in the mirror, ” a sentiment that hints at that the aesthetic side of oral care as well as the wellbeing benefits of smiling at yourself.
All in all, “ELIMS is a social impact company that is rebuilding the future of sustainable oral care.”
“We are trying to be at the cross-section of effective products and sustainability,” says Lau. “Which,” she concedes, “is really hard and expensive to do. But it is also the right thing to do, so we hope our fans and customers will continue to stick with us as we continue to innovate.”
Perhaps the right thing to do is even more difficult because the small team at ELIMS has opted to bootstrap its way into the marketplace. “We funded our brand ourselves, through some friends and family funding, and finally, some pitch competition winnings,” Lau tells me. “I think it is a very difficult time right now for consumer businesses to raise funds. Every dollar today is more expensive (in equity, terms, rights, etc.) than in years past.”
“One of my mentors is the founder of a successful hair care company, and he never raised funds,” explains Lau. “He strongly urged me to not raise funding and go slow [and be] scrappy so I can have more control. Bootstrapping is very difficult, but I get to do things my way and grow the business organically.”
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