Stacey Laviolette

TOOTHY GRIT

Interview by Derrick Scott and Mathieu Manning
Images © Vesta’s Photography

STACEY LAVIOLETTE SHARES THE COMPELLING STORY BEHIND THE CREATION OF “MY FRIEND TOOTHY,” BEGINNING WITH A PERSONAL REVELATION: “SO WHEN MY DAUGHTER WAS THREE, I FOUND OUT SHE HAD 10 CAVITIES. THAT’S HALF OF HER TEETH GONE BAD.”

Confronted with the challenge of establishing a consistent dental care routine for her daughter and finding the available resources lacking, Stacey was moved to create a solution herself. She developed a children’s book that uses exposure therapy to make brushing, flossing, and dentist visits engaging and fun for kids. “Alleviating that pain point with the anxiety of going to the dentist and how we can help children. And obviously, getting them into a routine,” Stacey explains, highlighting the transformative effect of her creation “My Friend Toothy.” Her approach has made dental care enticing for children, with Toothy serving as a supportive figure that turns a mundane chore into a fun and eagerly anticipated activity.

A multifaceted journey

Discussing her professional journey, Stacey reveals, “So now I’m an author. Before becoming an author, I worked in photography. “ She further elaborates on her multifaceted skill set, which extends beyond photography to include graphic design and website development, areas she has been immersed in for 12 years. “That obviously helped with the design, invention, and entire concept of “My Friend Toothy”. “I was able to capture the images and design of the box set and also the plushies,” showcasing her multifaceted creative talents.

A billion-dollar idea

In a moment of frustration with the lackluster options for children’s dental hygiene, Stacey’s declaration of “I have a billion-dollar idea” sparked a transformative journey. Embracing her constant drive to innovate, Stacey passionately shared her vision to make dental care engaging for children. With resounding support from her husband, and comparisons to beloved traditions like Santa Claus, her idea blossomed. In 2020, amidst the pandemic’s challenges, Stacey’s inspiration culminated in “My Friend Toothy,” a holistic approach to dental health that transcends a mere book. With a plush companion and In addition to the book, there’s a Toothy the Tooth Plush, with a pocket for the tooth and encourage healthy habits. Through her innovative blend of creativity and personal insight, Stacey’s “My Friend Toothy” not only eases dental care but also empowers a generation to embrace it fearlessly.

The challenges

Faced with a crucial decision to either take a simpler path by publishing her book on Amazon or fully immersing herself in the project by seeking manufacturers for the plushes and designing the box set, she chose the latter, embracing the complexity and hard work required. “It doesn’t happen overnight,” she reflects, acknowledging her impatience and the added challenge of dyslexia that made writing and sharing her vision a tougher journey. Despite facing these obstacles, Stacey’s resilience shone through. She candidly shares, “And there were some tears along the way, I actually have a learning disability, I have dyslexia,” yet she remained steadfast, embodying the spirit

of perseverance with her message: “So if I’m able to do it, you know, anyone out there can do it.” At a moment of near surrender, the wise words of her husband to “take a break” became a turning point, providing her with the space needed to regain her strength and continue with renewed vigor. Stacey’s journey is not just about the success of her project but serves as an inspirational testament to the power of following one’s heart, showcasing the impact of unwavering faith and diligent effort in overcoming adversity.

Dragon’s Den

Stacey Laviolette’s aspiration for “My Friend Toothy” soared as she envisioned pitching her billion-dollar concept on CBC’s “Dragon’s Den,” sharing with her husband her determination to showcase their project as a globally needed family experience. This ambition led her to apply to the show in 2021, shortly after a successful Kickstarter campaign that demonstrated early support for her idea. However, despite the producers’ interest, the initial feedback highlighted a crucial shortfall—lack of sales and only having a prototype. Guided by the producer’s advice to establish a sales track record and develop her product further, Stacey embarked on a relentless journey of promotion, traversing from Calgary shows to television appearances, fueling her project with unwavering dedication. Her efforts culminated in a standout reapplication at the year’s end, securing another chance to audition, this time backed by a producer who personally resonated with the “My Friend Toothy” mission due to her own experiences with dental anxiety. Standing on the brink of a dream, Stacey remains hopeful, poised for the opportunity to introduce “My Friend Toothy” to the Dragons and, by extension, to a wider audience, encapsulating her journey with a hopeful “Fingers crossed, right?” as she looks forward to potentially transformative next steps in the spring.

Amazon success

Stacey is optimistic about the trajectory of “My Friend Toothy,” buoyed by its remarkable performance on Amazon, a platform she credits for significantly influencing consumer behavior and driving sales. She observes that Amazon’s convenience and the trust it commands among consumers have been pivotal to her success, noting, “Amazon is a huge, huge success,” particularly when an ad on Facebook prompts potential buyers to seek out her product on Amazon. This has led to a noteworthy achievement of selling 1200 books in just one month. Recognizing consumer preference for Amazon’s ease of use over direct purchases from a personal website, Stacey has strategically made her box sets available there, tapping into the platform’s vast reach without attempting to compete with its dominance. Instead, she views the relationship as mutually beneficial, saying, “I’m on board with them. I love it,” and highlighting the win-win scenario of supporting Amazon, which in turn supports her mission to help families by making dental care education accessible and engaging for children worldwide.

A global movement

Stacey’s initiative is not just a commercial success; it’s a global movement. “Yeah, we actually are in the UK, Singapore, Mexico, Brazil,” she shares, illustrating the international reach of “My Friend Toothy.” Families around the world have welcomed her book, elevating it to a level where the brand is as recognizable as the Tooth Fairy itself. This global embrace signifies not just a product, but a shared experience that supports parents and delights children across various cultures, truly taking “My Friend Toothy” to the next level.

Stacey’s journey in creating “My Friend Toothy” serves as a profound source of inspiration for mom entrepreneurs, showcasing the transformative power of hard work and determination. Her path from an initial idea to a celebrated pitch on “Dragon’s Den” and achieving significant sales on Amazon highlights her unwavering resilience. Stacey’s experience underscores the potential impact of steadfast determination and a clear vision. Her ability to turn a desire to make a meaningful difference into a globally recognized initiative exemplifies how innovative ideas, rooted in personal conviction, can create success.

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