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With the mission of making the GTA -- and the world -- a fresher, Mintier place, two Toronto women have launched the world’s first all-natural, sugar-free, oil-based breath mint.
In November 2021, friends and co-workers, Jessica Sheppard and Rhaelyn Gillespie, made a small, but sweet-smelling stride forward for humanity when they launched the first-ever vegan, keto, non-GMO, gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-based breath mint made from six all-natural ingredients. Equally impressive was that the journey from brilliant idea to the shelves of Sobey’s, Healthy Planet and The Big Carrot took less than two years.
Back in 2019, Sheppard, a senior investment analyst, and Gillespie, an account director, were colleagues at a Toronto venture capital firm where long work days were fuelled by copious amounts of caffeine. Although their productivity levels rose, the women’s breath suffered.
The office kindly provided a supply of breath mints, but the women were unimpressed by their short-lasting effects. They were downright shocked when casual research revealed that traditional breath mints contained up to 99% sugar or sugar alcohol. Even worse was the discovery that sugar actually feeds the bacteria in one’s mouth that causes bad breath.
After a search for sugar-free alternatives proved fruitless, Sheppard and Gillespie decided to concoct their own recipe for a sugarless breath mint, transforming their kitchens into laboratories. Some months and many messes later, they found themselves stumped by a hard scientific reality -- the essential binding ingredient required to make a hard, candy-like mint is sugar.
A food chemist suggested a solution: using a base of keto-friendly coconut oil. While the oil’s health benefits were impressive, this meant that their breath mint would be liquid in form, a tricky sell to prospective customers conditioned to the sensation of a slowly disintegrating Lifesaver on their tongues. To compensate, Sheppard and Gillespie added a healthy, aromatic and refreshing mix of peppermint, spearmint, cinnamon, clove and lemon extracts to the liquid breath freshener they baptized Mintier.
Once they had refined their winning formula, Sheppard and Gillespie had to bring it to market. As a groundbreaking new category-defining product, Mintier qualified for VenturePark Labs’ accelerator program, created by celebrity Canadian entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson to support food and wellness startups. Within five months, Sheppard and Gillespie had devised a business plan that allowed them to launch Mintier in October of 2021 -- and quit their day jobs.
Because Mintier breaks all the rules of the classic breath mints -- in truth, it’s a concentrated herbal extract -- it both stands out from the pack, and mystifies. As Gillespie explained in a recent interview, “People aren’t used to putting a tincture in their mouths. At first, we had a lot of people say that it feels oily -- but that’s the way it is supposed to feel. On the second try, they’re excited because it does what it says it does.”
What Mintier does is attack coffee breath, garlic breath, morning breath and most other offending forms of breath. At first glance, the price for the stylish mint green 30mL bottles seems vaguely exorbitant ($19.99), especially compared to the average of $2 people fork out for a pack of traditional mints. However, as Gillespie and Sheppard emphasize, with Mintier you get a lot more great breath for your buck.
The partners have done the math: considering that a single bottle contains “120 servings of fresh breath,” each “shot” costs a mere $0.17. They also stress that a single drop of Mintier is guaranteed to keep your mouth minty fresh for 60 minutes with the aid of ingredients that actually improve oral care due to their antimicrobial and ayurvedic properties. Take that TicTac!