Hitting The Mark
Conversations with founders about the intersection of brand clarity and startup success.
Ep002 – Dr. Ginger Price, Founder, Dr. Ginger’s
On this episode of Hitting The Mark, Fabian Geyrhalter talks to Dr. Ginger Price.
Dr. Ginger Price was a leading Cosmetic Dentist for over 30 years. In 2014 she created a unique line of coconut oil oral care products that are all natural, delicious and fun to use. She saw not only a gap in the market as far as coconut oil toothpaste was concerned, but also noticed that there were no brands with a female founder in the industry.
Founders creating physical products, even more so if they are consumable, and even more so if they have to show provable results, sure are fascinating!
Dr. Ginger’s story from a swift idea to a working formula, design and actual consumers picking up a tube of toothpaste in stores around the US is surprising and uplifting.
Listen to Dr. Ginger Price and her brand of oral care products, which will soon be seen at Target and Whole Foods stores around the country.
You can learn more about her company and products through below links:
For the podcast deal to get Fabian’s book ‘Bigger Than This – How to turn any venture into an admired brand’ for $6, click here.
F Geyrhalter: Welcome to episode number two of Hitting the Mark. Thanks to all of you who listened to the first episode and jumped right onto the bandwagon. I’m very appreciative of all of you early adopters. See, one of the things that I want to do with Hitting the Mark is cover the entire spectrum of entrepreneurs, from solopreneurs to Silicon Valley Unicorns, from food and beverage to apps, and from packaged goods to VR, AI, and anything in between. I’m interested in how these founders and investors shape offerings into brands, people admire. So I’m thrilled to zigzag from the last episodes, LA based factory direct platform founder to a consumer packaged goods solopreneur from Phoenix, Arizona. My guest this week is Ginger Price, or Dr Ginger, to use her preferred brand name. Dr. Ginger price was a leading cosmetic dentist for over 30 years. In 2014, she created a unique line of coconut oil oral care products that are all natural, delicious and fun to use. She saw not only a gap in the market as far as coconut oil toothpaste was concerned, but also noticed that there were no brands with a female founder in that industry. Thus Dr. Ginger’s was born and here she is. Welcome Dr. Ginger.
Dr. Ginger: Thank you Fabian.
F Geyrhalter: Well, thanks for making it. I really appreciate it.
Dr. Ginger: Yes, absolutely. Thank you for having me.
F Geyrhalter: So, tell us a bit about Dr Ginger’s from dentist to coconut oil based consumer products and please, why is it delicious? Because I learned from a young age that you shall not swallow your toothpaste.
Dr. Ginger: Well, of course, being a dentist for so many years, I really notice that people, they were always asking me what brand, what should I be using? And we used to sell products in the dental practice, but often people would come back and say, “Oh yeah, you gave me that bottle of stuff. And I think I used it once.” So that, coupled with people wanting to get away from fluoride, and wanting to go more natural, and as well with the phenomena of oil pulling, it’s a thing.
F Geyrhalter: I got to stop you right on the tracks there. What is oil pulling for those not familiar with the technique, because I heard some wonderful things about it.
Dr. Ginger: Yes. So it’s actually a technique that goes back a thousand years to Ayurvedic, one of the Ayurvedic practices, and that is where you take just straight coconut oil and swish it between your teeth, hence the pulling.
Dr. Ginger: You’re pulling it back and forth between the teeth, but it requires, they say, a 15 minute process to really get a result. The claims are, that it reduces inflammation and some people even go so far as to say that it reduces whole body inflammation. Most people that I know, will say, “Oh yeah, you know, I tried that once.”
F Geyrhalter: 15 minutes.
Dr. Ginger: That’s a long time, but it does work. And so, I had patients coming in saying, “Hey, I’m doing that oil pulling thing. What do you think? How do my gums look? I’ve kind of looked into the marketplace, realizing that even if you are a dedicated oil puller, you still want that toothpaste mouthwash experience, right?
F Geyrhalter: Yeah.
Dr. Ginger: So I really, I didn’t find anything that had coconut oil as a key ingredient in the oral space. I decided to make my own.
F Geyrhalter: You know, that’s what one has to do, right? If it doesn’t exist, you got to do it.
Dr. Ginger: Yeah. So basically, patients brought the idea to me and that’s how it got rolling.
F Geyrhalter: I have tons of respect, Ginger, for anyone creating actual physical products, but even more so if they’re “consumable,” and even more so, if they show provable results, or at least have to. What was the journey from that idea to actually a consumer picking up a tube of toothpaste? Was there one big breakthrough moment, where you felt like this really propelled the startup into an actual brand?
Dr. Ginger: Yes. Well, I would say it was a couple of things. I had the idea, and like a lot of us, we get many ideas and they come and go, but this idea persisted, and as I looked into it, I realized quickly that I needed a formula, and I was very lucky to find a dentist. He’s a dentist and a Ph.D. chemist in Florida, Dr Martin Ginager, oddly one letter off from my name. When I conveyed what I was looking for, I wanted something fresh, coconut, minty, all natural. He nailed the toothpaste formula on the very first try. He just got it. Yeah. Two tries on the mouthwash, not too bad. So, then once we had … actually right about the time we had our formulas, I knew we needed some branding, and I had some experience with branding in my dental practice, because … years ago, I’ll go back quickly in the dental medical space, you got out of school and you had a white card with some black font on it and maybe you have two choices of font.
Dr. Ginger: There was no branding. Right? But that kind of all changed around, I’d say 2004, 2005, when cosmetic dentistry became more mainstream, so that’s when I kinda got into branding the dental practice. Like I say, a little bit of experience with that. And then, I was extremely fortunate in that my son is an industrial designer. He was actually still in school at Arizona State University when I got the formulas, and basically, he said, “I want to be the brand manager.” I said, “Oh, I don’t know. You’re still in school. I don’t know if you have time.” He goes, “No, nope, nope. I’m in.”
F Geyrhalter: That is so wonderful.
Dr. Ginger: Isn’t that cool?
F Geyrhalter: That is really, really cool. So he was the one that actually helped craft your brand, the logo and the packaging, and with consumer goods, the packaging is so important as you know.
Dr. Ginger: Oh yeah.
F Geyrhalter: Did you get a lot of iterations? Like did you actually test on the shelves? I know a lot of entrepreneurs do that where they sneak into the store where they really want to be in, but they’re not in there yet. And then the put their product in between other product, and then it just quietly watch how consumers stop or don’t stop. Did you do anything sneaky like that?
Dr. Ginger: No, I’ve never heard of that actually.
F Geyrhalter: Which makes you even more successful, because it must have worked the first time around, or you had to trust the brand manager because he was your son. So there’s no way out of that.
Dr. Ginger: Well, you know, he had the vibe right away. I knew that I wanted to use my name. Just kind of a fun name. And I had used it, it was slightly different in my dental practice, but he, being a young designer had his finger on the pulse of what brands were doing, and he showed me a bunch of examples. We went for a retro natural look. But, if you read the copy, there’s a lot of fun in there, a lot of energy. How he and I work, he will throw something down, do a mock up, or we’ll screen share, and I’ll say, “Well that looks great, but how about moving this over here or,” you know, so we go back and forth like that, but he had the concept really from the get go.
F Geyrhalter: I don’t know you well, right? We ran into each other, I think about a week ago at a conference, and we talked maybe, maybe 15, 20 minutes, but it seems that you have a very specific personality, a very fresh, outgoing personality. And, it seems like as I did a deep dive into your brand yesterday before this podcast, I felt that in the copy, it really sounds and feels like it’s you. But you’re saying that it’s actually your son who writes the copy,
Dr. Ginger: He writes the copy, but of course, he knows me, but he’s the one that comes up with … one of my favorites is the story about me locking myself in the lab with a bag of coconuts. Everybody knows it didn’t quite go down like that, but it just makes you smile. So, that’s our goal with the branding.
F Geyrhalter: It is a very fun induced brand, even though it is such a dangerous line between having a product that people want to make sure it really, really works, right? It’s their teeth, and it’s their health and then having a dentist, which usually can be seen as a little bit intimidating, but yet you come with this very joyful, very fun brand personality, and I think it works really well. I really like how all of that comes together, but there’s one thing that I have to ask, and I’m sure a lot of listeners by now are wondering, there is no ginger in Dr. Ginger’s products.
Dr. Ginger: It’s interesting that you say that because, we had one other, original iteration, the first mark that we had, we hit Natural Expo West with it, which is the largest natural …
F Geyrhalter: It’s big. It’s very big.
Dr. Ginger: … food expo in the world. And actually, just to digress a little bit, that was the time when we knew we really had something, because before that, patients who are buying it, but they already liked me. But at the show, we had a setup where people could live sample the mouthwash, and so we went through five gallons of mouthwash and 99 percent of people were like, “Oh wow, that is different.”
F Geyrhalter: Oh, that’s amazing.
Dr. Ginger: Yeah, it was very, it was really fun. But because the doctor and the Ginger’s weren’t connected the way they are now, actually the mark that’s still on our toothpaste tube was our initial. People really saw the Gingers, and not knowing me yet, they thought it was ginger flavor.
F Geyrhalter: Correct.
Dr. Ginger: We got some commentary, and we went back to the drawing board. The mark that you see today was the result of that feedback.
F Geyrhalter: So with the mark today, you basically included more of the coconut illustration and Dr. Ginger’s is still very pronounced, which it has to be, because it’s the brand name, but you added to the coconut elements into the identity.
Dr. Ginger: Well, the coconut was there, but the DRX in the Rx, of course, hearkens back to the old symbol for pharmacies, like from the ’50s.
F Geyrhalter: Right.
Dr. Ginger: But, that was above the Ginger’s, and so you didn’t see it as a connected thing the same way as it is now. It created some confusion.
F Geyrhalter: I see, I see. Oh, okay.
Dr. Ginger: So, I think the message there is, that as good as you think you got it, you have to be willing to take feedback and make slight corrections. There’s no harm in that.
F Geyrhalter: Absolutely. Absolutely. Always go back and always iterate, even when you think you’re doing really well on the shelves. This is obviously, this is the billion dollar question, how did you get … There are a couple of those, but I think this is really one that fascinates me personally. How did you get it on the shelves, because now I know that you’re in about 75 retailers. You’re going to hit some really big milestones next year with, I think you’re going to be in about 485 Target stores. You’re going to be in Whole Foods at some point next year. So, this is a brand that … I’m just so excited to have you on right now, because I know you are going to be very big. It just has to work that way looking at 2019 for you, but where did it start? What was the first shelf you got into and how did you hustle your way onto that shelf? I know you did. You have to.
Dr. Ginger: Well, yes, there is a lot of hustle. Isn’t there. Well, I would say, like I say, going back to my dental practice, we had a nice lab there, and we had the mouthwash in all of our restrooms, and every sink where patients can do a little rinse after a process. So, we were getting great feedback. I would say it, I just stumbled onto a book by the Kind founder, Daniel Lapitzki, I’m not pronouncing his last name right, but I read his book, and he talked about Natural Product Expo West. I’d never heard of it, and I thought, “We need to be there.” So having a little booth, but natural product, or the Expo West they call it, that launched us. We met tons of retailers, and of course, you know, just organically, you’re meeting people that are going to go to Amazon to buy the product. So that is really what got us started. And then from there, you’re just following through, contacting people. Like you say, it really is just a hustle.
F Geyrhalter: Yeah. Yeah. So it wasn’t, it wasn’t the one shelf that made it. It was basically the expo that made it. You had your products already on your website, and you had it on Amazon and your clients, because you were at that point, still a practitioner, a dentist, and you sold your products to your customers, and then afterwards, the word spreads, and some people start buying it on Amazon, but that expo really exposed you to a lot of buyers, and from there it really kind of catapulted.
Dr. Ginger: Yes, it really did. And, what’s been interesting with the brand, because we really, we saw this product as … I visualized it being on the shelves of Whole Foods. Right? But we’ve found that it’s lapped over as a little bit of a hipster brand. One of our big retailers is Urban Outfitters. Urban Outfitters, Free People, Tilly’s. It was unexpected, but that’s what’s happening. So, people resonate with the look of it, the feel of the branding. And then, as the story goes the branding gets you off the shelf for the first time, but the taste gets you back for a second purchase, right?
F Geyrhalter: That’s right. That’s right.
Dr. Ginger: In addition to that, what we were really trying to do, is disrupt natural a little bit. I’m not downing any brands, but a lot of it is super boring right now. And the taste, it’s almost as if people think that if doesn’t taste a little awful, it’s not helping you. Like I say, I don’t mean to be, I’m not being negative.
F Geyrhalter: Oh please. It’s only you and I, you can tell me.
Dr. Ginger: I don’t even really like tea tree oil in my shampoo, let alone in my toothpaste. But, there’s a lot of ingredients like that, where you kind of have to hold your nose and brush. So our products, people tell us, “Oh my God, you got to make that mouthwash on a bigger size, because every time I walked past it, I have to have another swig.”
F Geyrhalter: So that’s why you say it tastes good, because people can’t get enough of it. It’s really what lingers in your mouth afterwards. It’s just so different. It’s not as strong and overwhelming as usual mouthwash. Afterwards, you can’t have breakfast and you don’t enjoy your coffee.
Dr. Ginger: Exactly.
F Geyrhalter: Which of course, I can’t talk about coffee with a dentist. That’s just a big no no. So this is an interesting point now. So suddenly, you’re actually marketing, right? You’re at a point where, you tell your brand story, obviously on your website, there’s a huge amount of very personal like tongue and cheek videos that you do about every single product. Which outlets work best for you when you actually market yourself? Which social media outlets, or where are you? What are your tricks? Share some tricks?
Dr. Ginger: Well, of course Instagram is just a great format. We have a daily posting on Instagram, and a growing following. Instagram is kind of a big center, I think, today for brands. Of course we’re on Facebook, but Facebook isn’t as strong right now, in my opinion. And then, of course, Amazon is a really lucky thing for a young brand now, because you can be on there with a very low risk factor, and create your own following there.
F Geyrhalter: Do you have a team?
Dr. Ginger: It’s just a neat time.
F Geyrhalter: Yeah. Do you have a team that helps you with those efforts or is it your son and he’s still slaving away, and that’s it.
Dr. Ginger: Well, my son actually is living in Australia currently, and he’s still our brand manager, but he works for a design firm in Brisbane.
F Geyrhalter: Oh fantastic.
Dr. Ginger: So right now, we work remotely on everything, but he still does all the photography and any ad changes, that kind of thing. I’m super lucky, because I have a three person team, and they all came with me from the dental practice. We’d all work together, some of us as long as nine years, and it’s just great, because we all have a comfort level. They understand. Well, one thing I did want to say is, a brand is more than just a pretty mark that you stick on something. It’s about how you behave, the values that you stand for, and so our really quality customer service, the fun vibe, all of that is part of who the team is. And so as we grow, it’ll be important to acquire new people that fit with the values.
F Geyrhalter: And I cannot stress how important that is that you just said. The idea that you actually took employees, that you knew were sharing the same values of yours, and want to see that brand succeed and how that culture actually completely educates a customer’s reaction to your product. It is such a huge part of branding, and no one talks about it. It’s company culture. But, here’s a team of three, four people and you’re pushing so hard and it’s so personal, and now you’re going to be in Target and Whole Foods. I think a lot of it is because you knew who to keep around you, and how to have a really positive energy in your company. You know, I think that’s super, super important.
Dr. Ginger: Huge. Absolutely. Yup.
F Geyrhalter: So, I have to self inflicted a time limit on my podcast, because I always feel like I want people to have these quick audio clips when they’re driving somewhere, and usually 20, 25 minutes is a good time. Is there a piece of brand advice for founders, maybe especially, in consumer packaged goods or founders that can relate to your story. Do you have any advice for them as a takeaway? One thing where you just say, “Look, definitely do or do not do this as it relates to branding?”
Dr. Ginger: Well, I would say it’s really important when you’re hiring a designer that, … obviously I was super lucky, but super important to have a design company that gets who you are and has a similar excitement level for your product that you do. That excitement, of course, it has to start with you. But, if the designer has it as well, they can feed off of that, and it’s going to make a big difference in what gets created.
F Geyrhalter: Wonderful. So, so true, so true. You never want people to work for the money, you want people to work because it’s a shared passion, and it’s going to be such a good result based on it.
Dr. Ginger: Yeah, exactly.
F Geyrhalter: So, Ginger, listeners who fell in love with your brand just now, which I’m sure there’s going to be, hopefully most of them. What would you like for them to be doing right this minute to support and benefit from Dr Gingers?
Dr. Ginger: Sure. Well of course, follow the Insta, that’s big.
F Geyrhalter: Is it @DrGingers?
Dr. Ginger: Yup, it is. And as well, if you go to our website, you can join the Coco Club and you always get 15 percent off everything, and just fun updates, nothing that obtrusive, but an email every once in a while about new things happening. So that would be very helpful for us.
F Geyrhalter: Perfect. Well thank you so much, Ginger, we were really fortunate to have you.
Dr. Ginger: Oh, thank you Fabian. It’s been really fun. I appreciate it.
F Geyrhalter: And thank you everyone for listening, and if you do like what you have heard, there is so much more where this came from, so please hit that subscribe button, and give the show a quick rating wherever you listen to podcasts. It sure is much appreciated, especially with a new podcast trying to swim in this sea of podcasts. If you want to end your venture into an admired brand, keep listening to this podcast, but I also still have a special podcast offer for you, where you can get my new book on exactly that subject for six bucks at tinyurl.com/Fabiansbook. The Hitting the Mark theme music was written and performed by Happiness One. I will see you next time when we, once again, we’ll be Hitting the Mark.