April 8, 2015
After unveiling our 5 March Amber Grant finalists last weekend, we’re excited to announce the winner — Kristin Brown, Owner of People’s Paste.
Many thanks to Kristin for her time with our interview below. Continue on to learn all about her unique business.
WN: Share with our readers how People’s Paste started, and whether there are any other individuals behind the company.
KB: I started my business as project while finishing my undergraduate degree at the University of New Hampshire, Manchester Campus in the fall of 2010. At the time, I was a wife and mother of 2 children, working full time in the healthcare industry and going to school at night to finish my bachelor’s degree in business. During this time, I enrolled in a course called “Sustainable Business”. This is the course that changed my life. The overarching theme of the course was to teach students about the impact and often unintended consequences of our actions on our planet, our communities and people around the world.
In this class we were tasked with developing a business that is sustainable in every way possible and then pilot our product or service in the marketplace. Our group tossed around several ideas, from soap to organic foods (popcorn, cookies, jams etc.) and finally settled on toothpaste based on a market feasibility study that I conducted. It turns out that toothpaste is very simple to make! In this class I was very fortunate to have a dedicated focus group to test and try the various recipes of toothpaste that I developed. The toothpaste that is known as “People’s Paste” today is based on the final recipe voted best tasting by the class. (I’ve made a few modifications along the way based on customer feedback).
Today, my full-time job is toothpaste. From marketing to production to distribution and finance, I own and operate all aspects of the business. (My husband & kids pitch in when needed!) I anticipate hiring at least one employee by the end of 2015 to assist with production.
WN: Talk about what’s unique about your product.
KB: We all know that organic is better, but rarely do we think about the stuff that we put on our skin, hair, teeth. People’s Paste toothpaste is a safe and effective way of cleaning your teeth and gums without all of the harmful additives. A key differentiator from traditional tube toothpastes is its packaging. People’s Paste is packaged in bottles made from #2 plastic. This means that it can be recycled in your local community, whereas traditional toothpaste packaging cannot!
WN: How is People’s Paste produced?
KB: Right now, People’s Paste is produced in my home in a small room dedicated to toothpaste making. The toothpaste is mixed using a dedicated commercial grade KitchenAid mixer. It’s a lot like baking and just as cathartic! Work is underway to streamline the production process to become more efficient. This is where WomensNet comes in. If awarded the $2000 Amber grant, this money would be used for equipment upgrades to scale production to more easily and efficiently meet our growing demand.
WN: Where is People’s Paste sold? Where do you hope to sell it in the future?
KB: People’s Paste can only be found in various small markets in New Hampshire as well as Wholefoods Markets in Portland, ME and Andover, MA. Growth plans include expanding to all 35 Wholefoods Markets in the North Atlantic Region and selling our product through 3-5 Hannaford stores in NH by the end of 2015. We anticipate expanding into additional territories for both grocery chains 2016. In addition to traditional brick and mortar marketplaces, we envision developing relationships with subscription box companies such as Thrive, Birchbox and Graze. This will broaden our reach to our target market of health conscious individuals who value our planet.
WN: What are your long-term goals for the company?
KB: My vision for People’s Paste is to become a major competitor in the oral care market through expanding our line of natural oral care products. I want all consumers to have easy and affordable access to oral care products that are made in a sustainable and healthy way.
Thanks for reading! Remember that we award a grant every month – if interested, please apply today.
And if you’d like to vote for Kristin to win the $2,000 Amber Grant, you can vote for her here.