Nicolette Warren strives to make oral hygiene fun.
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
When Nicolette Warren was in high school and college, she babysat for area families. There was one common thread among the kids: The children didn’t want to brush their teeth.
“It didn’t matter if they were 2 or 8 years old, everyone dreaded it and didn’t want to do it,” Warren said. “I realized that even adults don’t view it as fun. It’s a habit that needs to be formed at a young age. I started brainstorming ideas to make tooth brushing fun.”
The Thousand Oaks native founded Toothbrush Toys, which encourage children to build better brushing habits with fun toothbrushes, associated storybooks and animations. Large grip sizes and extra soft bristles complement characters like Chompers the Shark and Brushy the Brushasaurus. Toothbrush Toys hit online stores — Amazon and toothbrushtoys.com — on March 1 for $19.95 each.
“I’m really excited,” said Warren, who graduated from Westlake High School. “I’ve spent a lot of time working on this. It’s a work in progress, but I’m excited to launch and hopefully we can expand and grow throughout the country.”
These objects are more than simple, manual toothbrushes: When the brush head is removed, it becomes a toy.
“You never have to throw it away,” she added.
Toothbrush Toys also has a charitable mission in mind. To that extent, the company has partnered with America’s ToothFairy, a nonprofit that provides dental care products nationwide to those in need.
Warren studied communications and entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California, a university she longed to attend. She is close to her family and wanted to stay relatively near Thousand Oaks, so USC was perfect.
“I loved growing up in Thousand Oaks,” she said. “I loved every part of it — my schools, my friends, the area. It makes sense why so many people stay here.”
She found USC just as inspirational, especially one particular professor who sparked her creative mind.
“I met a lot of great people — hard-working, motivated people,” she added. “I had great classes and great professors. I took my first entrepreneur class my freshman year and the professor, Marianne Szymanski, was in the toy industry.
“That may have sparked something in the back of my head in the realm of toys and kids. She wasn’t just a teacher. She was in the world, in the industry, had hands-on experience. I learned everything about starting a business from her.”
Warren has high hopes for Toothbrush Toys, for which she has a small office space in Thousand Oaks. Wanting to remain in Southern California, Warren said if this endeavor doesn’t work out, she’ll put her talents toward something new. In the meantime, she’s focused on supplying kids (and their parents) with the tools they need to make and keep teeth clean and healthy, and build lifelong oral hygiene habits.
“I truly hope our new approach to teeth brushing and our charitable initiatives will make a difference in dental hygiene among children. Habits really do start young but last a lifetime,” Warren said.