Nueva alumnae and sisters Chrystle ’97 and Cat Cu ’01 have been building a business for almost a year now. Their product—Cocofloss—is a microfiber dental floss that is 40 percent more effective at removing plaque than the average floss. Customers say now that they’ve used Cocofloss they can’t imagine using other brands or going a day without flossing.
This is exactly what the Cu sisters teamed up to do — change the way people floss their teeth by reimagining flossing from the thread itself to the entire flossing experience.
“We want to make floss delightful. Less like a chore, and more like a treat. We want to make flossing like a vacation,” said Chrystle.
Chrystle is a dentist and has had the idea for a new floss product for several years now because she knows so many patients don’t floss regularly. Every day Chrystle treats patients for dental problems they could have prevented if they had a daily flossing routine. Her sister, Cat, is an artist and entrepreneur who was looking to start a new business.
The result of this dynamic duo — improved floss, increased public awareness, and better flossing technique. The goal: To inspire and enable people to establish healthy habits to take care of their smiles, a mission that includes supplying floss to people in other countries who have limited access to oral hygiene services.
Before designing their new floss, Cat and Chrystle spent a lot of time talking to patients about their flossing habits — why they don’t floss, what they hate about it, obstacles to flossing, and so on.
“People are often emotional about their teeth. Fear, pain, and frustration are common emotions around dental health, while laziness and forgetfulness are the most commonly cited reasons why people don’t floss. Oral health and flossing, or the lack thereof, are big pain points for so many of us,” Cat explained.
The Cu sisters also gleaned valuable user and product insights from the Nueva Alumni Design Thinking Workshop in January, which was taught by alumni parent and current teacher, Kim Saxe, the director of Nueva’s Innovation Labs.
Like other entrepreneurs, Cat and Chrystle have started their business using their own money, at home, and built everything from scratch themselves. They’ve navigated the manufacturing process and done all their own iPhone photography. They set up their parents’ living room as a production line for folding boxes and filling orders. From designing the product specs to creating a website, these two have gained new skills throughout the process and have learned important lessons along the way, including the importance of questioning their assumptions, triaging business risks, and persisting through processes that take longer than they’d originally expected.
Chrystle and Cat are starting to distribute their product to retail stores that jibe with their “flossophy.” Their floss is also sold online via a subscription to help folks build the daily flossing habit. Cocofloss comes in three delectable flavors (mint, fresh coconuts, and sweet strawberries) and is infused with coconut oil to ensure floss glides smoothly between teeth.
“Relax and floss. Treat yourself to healthy teeth happily ever after.”