For many, fresh breath can be that make or break moment for any first impression. Whether it's a first date, an interview, or meeting your partner's family for the first time, having fresh breath often gives you the confidence you need to feel presentable. Jess and Rhae (the founders of Mintier) got tired of the vicious cycle of popping multiple breath mints a day, only ever seeing a decline in their oral health. After extensive research and an eye-opening discovery, they decided to innovate in an industry that hadn't seen a change in years. Enter: Mintier. Mintier is a breakthrough, first-of-its-kind, breath serum that lets you enjoy the confidence of fresh breath and the delicious taste of mint, without the sugar or sugar alcohols. We had a chance to catch up with the founders (Jess and Rhae) to hear what surprised them about the industry, what made them choose the entrepreneurial route, and what advice they'd give to anyone aspiring to do something similar.
Oral health is such a unique industry to get into. What drew you to building a career in it?
It started as a personal problem. That might sound totally cliché, but picture this: Imagine having breath mint after breath mint and almost feeling like your breath was somehow getting worse. By digging a little deeper we realized that most breath mints are over 90% sugar, and quite literally just candy. That 90% of sugar feeds oral bacteria in your mouth and keeps making your breath worse! When we looked around at checkout aisles and oral care sections we couldn’t find anything that would actually work and not contribute to worsening breath. So, from kitchen experiments, to food chemists, to finding a manufacturer that could actually do this, we created an oil-based formulation that is not only clean, but very effective. Our background wasn’t in oral health, but rooted from this fascination with a category that hasn’t had any innovation in decades. Today it’s an obsession with making people feel confident in their face-to-face interactions.
What are some things people may be surprised to learn about the "fresh breath" industry?
Well first, that breath mints being full of sugar are designed for over-consumption and reliance. It’s why when we have one breath mint, we suddenly need another and another and another. Usually when we tell people this, it clicks for them as a lot of people have faced this as a personal problem too. The next major surprise for us was when we looked at ‘sugar-free’ options. When you look at these ingredient decks you’ll see ingredients pop up like xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol, maltitol, etc. These are classified as ‘sugar alcohols’ and although they don’t all have the same negative effects on the mouth, most are tough on digestion and are often warned to avoid by nutritionists or specific diets like low-fodmap. From a value standpoint, that didn’t fit into what we wanted to build, which is something that is clean and effective.
Can you talk a bit about your product and what sets it apart?
We are so proud to have created the first and only Breath Serum. Basically, one of our kitchen experiments taught us that sugar is a binder, so it’s what makes all these ingredients stick into a tablet or chewable form. Our “aha” moment was when we realized that rather than using sugar as a binder for all our other ingredients that freshen breath, why not leave it as an oil-based formula? That’s what Mintier is; six clean oils that promote fresh breath. When you think about it, most women have skin serums, hair serums, so why not have a breath serum!
What is something you wish you had known before you started in the industry?
I wish we would have known how long it would take to actually launch a product. We were in research and development for over a year and a half, and in the spirit of full transparency we’ve spent another year trying to develop our next product. Which was completely worth the wait and is launching this fall! Now we’re already in R&D for our 2024 product lineup and we know our customers are going to love what’s coming next from Mintier!
Where do you think the oral health industry is headed next?
Oral beauty is having its moment. In every get-ready-with-me or morning routine, we’re all brushing our teeth and investing time into some type of oral care. We’re looking at this with more of a beauty lens now, and seeing other amazing brands in Oral Beauty pop up in popular beauty retailers like Ulta Beauty and The Detox Market. We hope to be in those retailers one day taking care of fresh breath on-the-go!
What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur?
Start now! We tried to prepare as much as we could beforehand, and although our initial research and development took so long to get it right, we still learned an insurmountable amount about business once we actually launched the brand.
From product to packaging to marketing; everything can change once you launch and get real-time feedback from your customers. For example, we thought this would be a product made almost exclusively for women, but we have found that about 40% of our customers are men. We checked in to ask our customers why they are choosing Mintier and it sounds simple but it’s because it works for them.
Everything is also ‘figureoutable’. We couldn’t find a co-manufacturer at first, but buckled down and found a way. We didn’t know what a sell sheet was, didn’t know how to get listed with a distributor, didn’t know what to prepare for our first tradeshow, but we stuck to our authentic selves and figured it all out. On the topic of our first trade show we even showed up in bright mint green matching tracksuits so that we’d be comfy and people could see us from a mile away. We had at least 10 other founders come up to us and say ‘we’re copying that idea next year’. We love it! Everything is ‘figureoutable’ and stay true to who you are!
Want to follow along with the Mintier journey? Follow them on Instagram here.
Thinking about shopping some of their serum? Shop here.