In our January/February 2017 “Awake” Craftly box, you’ll discover an eco-friendly toothbrush designed by Plus Ultra. We featured their eco-friendly toothbrush! The bristles are soft and gentle for your mouth and there’s always an imprinted compliment ready for you whenever you smile and brush your teeth. The founder, Christina Ramirez, is on a mission to reduce plastic waste by creating this Plus Ultra toothbrush!
Can you tell us about Plus Ultra and the people behind it?
Christina Ramirez came up with the idea for starting a bamboo toothbrush company as part of an assignment for her Global Studies major at UCSB. It wasn’t until years later while looking over distribution data for toothbrushes from behind her desk at News Corp that her school project became her mission and her dream.
Over 167 million toothbrushes were being bought each year in the United States alone. The image of all those plastic toothbrushes piling up across the planet set Christina in motion to reduce plastic waste by redefining the conventional image of a toothbrush. And this was the beginning of what would eventually become PLUS ULTRA.
Christina started her research and product development by getting a job on the ground floor of the most respected, conscious grocer in the country, Whole Foods Market. It was there she learned what consumers wanted, what sold, and how a big retailer worked. Armed with that information she began speaking with dentists from UCLA and USC about toothbrush design, which she then took to China where she began sourcing materials and building a supply chain.
In early 2012, Christina teamed up with Brand Strategist and Creative Director Lenore Mason and PLUS ULTRA was born. PLUS ULTRA means “further beyond” in Latin. It’s the national motto of Spain and the directive that Queen Isabella gave Christopher Columbus as he set out to find the New World. Today, it is the mantra we’ve adopted to inspire innovation and to remind us to do better.
PLUS ULTRA was created as a brand committed to creating common-sense products that support positive change, transcend functionality and serve the greater good through sustainability, eco-conscious production, or philanthropy.
In December of 2012, PLUS ULTRA bamboo toothbrushes launched in Whole Foods Markets throughout greater Los Angeles. Today, toothbrushes for both adults and kids are available in the Whole Foods Markets in California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii.
The company continues to refine their products by looking for more eco-friendly materials, vendors, and practices. PLUS ULTRA’s vision is to expand its offerings to include more items that are used daily and produce those items in ways that are environmentally conscious and sustainable.
What’s your brand personality is like?
Our Values: We believe that everything is connected and that we have a responsibility to support our planet’s health and happiness. We aspire to innovation and constant improvement. We believe in doing our best and then doing better. Whether it’s through contributing to a worthy cause, doing our part to reduce the carbon footprint or bringing people joy, PLUS ULTRA aspires to offer good products and good ideas.
Our Promise: PLUS ULTRA is committed to creating products that incorporate eco-friendly and sustainable solutions. We are committed to transparency and authenticity. We hope to encourage conscious consumerism.
A few words to describe our Brand Personality:
Positive, Creative, Confident, Knowledgeable, Socially conscious, Environmentally aware, Free-spirited, Authentic, Intelligent, Innovative, Simple, Clean
Describe what led you to where you are now with your company.
Christina: PLUS ULTRA is my first business venture and it was a concept that I began developing as a college student. I feel that I’ve grown and learned what it takes to be an entrepreneur through this process. In my opinion, the most important parts of being an entrepreneur are perseverance, patience, unwavering demand for quality and a drive to always improve the product, the processes, and one’s self.
What’s the most exciting experience you’ve had since your business started?
Every day is exciting, and every stage of growing a company is very exciting! Most recently, I reflected on the successful fine-tuning our supply chain oversees. As I scale the business, it’s important to work with the best factories and quality controllers. To see positive results from hard work, attention to detail and negotiation is really rewarding, especially since it’s a global operation. That’s exciting to me!
Tell us about the toothbrushes we featured in our Jan/Feb box!
PLUS ULTRA bamboo toothbrushes provide an environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic and are made from over 90% biodegradable materials. They are made from 100% naturally grown, sustainable, anti-microbial Moso bamboo — a durable material with anti-bacterial properties. And feature positive affirmations like “Hello Gorgeous” and “Hello Handsome”!
Our toothbrushes are designed to the specifications of dentists and feature a wave shaped brush head with soft, BPA-free nylon bristles for optimal performance.
Our outer packaging is made from paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Initiative. The inner packaging is made of Bio-PET, a substrate made from 30% sugar and 70% PET. Our packaging uses no heat or glues so there is no release of toxins into our product or the atmosphere. We use plant based inks to print our packaging.
Can you give us an example of what not to do when running a business?
- DO NOT care what other people think, ever! Stay focused.
- DON’T do something just because everyone else is doing it. It’s important to be transparent and stick to your vision and your strategy.
- DO NOT compromise quality or integrity.
- NEVER give up or quit. You only TRULY fail when you quit. Keep going no matter what!
What has been the biggest challenge in running the company?
Scaling a business to national distribution and cash flow are tricky and continual challenges of running a company. But they are also opportunities to get creative and think outside the box. A smooth sea doesn’t make a skillful sailor- so challenges are necessary for anyone building a company!
Anything else you’d like to share with our Craftly community?
As consumers, we have the buying power to change the world for the better. Be conscious about the products you buy and how they affect the environment. How they contribute back to society. How they better mankind. Every purchase decision matters. Make yours count.