Teeth Whitening has seen a surge of popularity recently, but only The Whitening Co has seen success enough to move their online offer to two physical locations. Here, Mollie Edwards talks to co-founders Kennedy Anderson and Victor Green about their decision to get into the saturated market, and how sometimes being first isn’t always the best.
Since the age of 15, business has always been on the for front of Andersons mind. Beginning with a photography business, followed by studying industrial design, his knowledge and ambition lead him to found strategic marketing business Kollab. Since starting Kollab in 2017, Anderson has also co-founded meal replacement company twnty5 and has recently joined forces with Green to create premium teeth whitening business The Whitening Co.
Throughout high school Anderson says he was self-conscious with the colour of his teeth and tested various teeth whitening kits for a solution.
“I started to buy kits online without my parents knowing, from all different sources, now I understand how dangerous that could have been, but at the time all I wanted was white teeth.”
For Green, teeth whitening was never previously a consideration, however business had always been a passion. At 18 years old he started an electric imports company which showcased on third party distribution channels such as Grabone. However, at the time, he found himself unequipped with the marketing and business knowledge to take the company further. While attending university, Green also began a successful event company, which was eventually wrapped up to start digital agency, Flight Digital.
With both Kollab and Flight Digital sharing office space, the idea for teeth whitening was mentioned in passing conversation, however after some consideration was shortly developed into The Whitening Co.
“The idea was always second to our current businesses. All in all, I think it took about a year to go to market with Ecommerce, the only six or so months to get the wheels turning on the physical store locations,” says Green.
In a world where the majority of us are consistently catering to our appearance, teeth whitening has become exceedingly popular. With a vast market of kits, pens and strips, that don’t always deliver expected results, Anderson and Green saw an opportunity for a whitening kit that could position itself as a premium.
“There’s a massive advantage of not always being first to market, when it comes to these kinds of things. The general population was already educated on teeth whitening to some extent and had tried a whole bunch of products that hadn’t worked but the demand was still there,” says Green.
The Whitening Co kits provide a total of 34 uses, including the strips, pen and the light, made at the highest technology available. They are designed at a dental-grade, with six percent of hydrogen peroxide as the main teeth whitening ingredient, which ensures an effective whitening experience, while remaining safe.
After four weeks of ecommerce, Anderson and Green joked about taking their kits to a bricks and mortar store, which after some research, turned out to be a promising proposal. Although many people were choosing to use the Whitening Co kits, there still remained the market of those who were sceptical to at home solutions, which lead to opening a studio.
“The kits definitely work and they’re more of a long-term solution, if you keep up your teeth whitening it’s going to last with a kit. But with a salon, people just love that quick fix and fast result, the instantaneous stuff,” says Anderson.
The Whitening Co studio offers an experience similar to visiting the hair salon, in which you can treat yourself and relax. The idea was to create a space opposite to a clinical dentist experience, by using comfy whitening chairs, noise cancelling headphones, signature store scent and other salon-like features.
The studio’s whitening chairs are equipped with the same formula as the whitening kits, however instead of using six percent of hydrogen peroxide, the chairs have 12 percent. The higher percentage is due to a bigger kit in the chair and the application from a professional.
“That’s the cool part about coming in for an hour. It can definitely be a vary of sensitivity as well, we usually find that the formula we have created is pretty awesome and people don’t usually come out with discomfort. However, after sitting there for an hour, if someone does get slight discomfort, we can come in and take gel off that specific tooth and fix it that way. Its tailored to sensitivity which is awesome,” says Anderson.
After only five months, the success of Eden Terrace lead to opening a second studio in Takapuna, which has now become The Whitening Co’s flagship store. The Takapuna space completely monochrome with and elevated feel and allows five whitening chairs in comparison to Eden Terrace’s three.
Although successful, The Whitening Co journey has also proved to be challenging at times, particularly with the jump from Ecommerce to bricks and mortar. Anderson explains learning to a run a store from all angles has been a challenge, yet has brought tremendous feedback and reward.
With two studios and many customers, Anderson and Green have noticed that people are not only caring for the aesthetic of their teeth but are progressively caring more about the general health of their teeth also.
“People are becoming more self-aware and have the ability to improve how they look, not necessarily with teeth whitening, but with botox, eyebrow feathering, eyelashes, this has been going for a while now. I think the next natural progression is for people to start caring about their teeth,” says Green.
“Our trained dental technician Ruby is able to guide people with the health of their teeth after the whitening treatment and can suggest whether our customers may need a trip to the dentist. Having that as part of our studio, shows that both our team and our customers care about oral health and not just physical appearance,” says Anderson.
Looking forward, the duo has a ten-store strategy in plan, which will depend on the markets response to each store opening. The ultimate goal being to open a studio in each major city of New Zealand and possibly look into Australia.
For their customers wanting to achieve optimum whiteness, Anderson and Green recommend visiting the studio for a touch up package roughly every three to four months. On top of this, they recommend using the at home kit three to four times a week.
“If you want people looking at your smile, keep up with the kit in the background. The kit and the studio don’t substitute out each other, they complement each other. It’s like visiting a hair salon and buying the shampoo after you’ve dyed your hair,” says Anderson.
For Anderson, the success of The Whitening Co has ultimately come down to the team behind it. With the directors of the company each possessing an area of expertise, allowing each to focus on what they are good at, the group has become a powerhouse.