Every week, we shine a spotlight on the best small brands we think are worth shouting about. We love our great British high street, but there are so many fantastic independent brands out there making clothes, accessories, homeware and more from a place of passion and love and we need to support them – now more than ever.
From fashion and beauty to homeware, accessories and food, we bring you the best small businesses you need on your radar. This week, we chat with Barty Walsh, co-founder of Ordo, the oral care brand disrupting the electric toothbrush industry.
What is Ordo and how did it come to life?
Ordo launched in 2018 as a direct-to-consumer business, in response to demand for modern, fairly priced and convenient oral care. We could see there was an opportunity to better connect people’s lifestyle aspirations and their oral care routine.
Our first launch focused on the original Ordo Starter Pack, which incorporated our Portable Toothbrush and the earliest version of our toothpaste. Since then, we’ve launched the Sonic+ Toothbrush and a full line of oral care, including our new and improved Complete Care Toothpaste, which is recommended by dentists and comes in a fully recyclable tube. As well as continuing our D2C offering, we’re now available in hundreds of dental clinics across the UK as well as Boots, Sainsbury’s and Argos, and are readying ourselves for expansion into further high street stores and supermarkets.
What three words describe Ordo?
Efficacious, affordable, aspirational.
Who is the Ordo customer?
Someone who wants to form healthy habits that last. They want the products they use to expertly balance aesthetics and efficacy, while all at once offering robust sustainability credentials. We should be using our toothbrush every day, why shouldn’t it look beautiful in our bathrooms as well as helping us achieve healthy and happy smiles. More and more, we want to bring a lifestyle component to oral care – we think this is key to helping people change their habits for the better.
What inspires your product design?
It might seem clichéd, but listening to what customers actually want and need is paramount. This is especially true in mature, dominated markets such as oral care. Generic market research just won’t do, you’ve got to be specific, precise and alert to changing needs. By truly listening to customers you get to see into the blind spots of big businesses and catch paradigm shifts in the making.
We could see that people had become uninspired by the toothbrushes on offer, they wanted their toothbrush to better reflect their sense of style, whilst not compromising on efficacy. The personal tech sector had done a fantastic job of refining this balance and we wanted to bring the same level of design to oral care.
We could also see that shoppers had grown savvy to the inflated RRPs of electrical dental products. Searching for a good deal is one thing, but shoppers are too often faced with a veritable obstacle course in their bid to find a fair price. We set out to design a great brush that could be sold for a great price, all year round.
What does a typical day look like for you?
We’re going through a significant growth phase as a business, so each day is often very different. This has been all the more compounded by the myriad of challenges businesses have faced during the pandemic and the subsequent supply chain issues. Fortunately, we’ve managed to navigate the rough seas, but it’s definitely kept us on our toes. More recently, a lot of my time has been spent speaking with retailers and distributors across the UK and Europe.
Amidst the chaos and fast-paced changes, I try to bookend my day with structure and routine. I wake up pretty early and aim to get some exercise done and walk the dog before I start work. When things get busy it can be easy to forgo a healthy lifestyle, but I think that’s a false economy – staying on top of a healthy routine pays dividends in the long run.
What’s the best thing about running your own business? And the most challenging?
There’s something very rewarding and motivating about being the master of your own destiny. Each day I get into work feeling like there is a lot I can do to make a difference. Don’t get me wrong, there are challenges, but I feel all the more empowered to take them on by being at the helm of my own business.
Having that autonomy is, of course, a sword that cuts both ways – ultimately, the buck stops with me. The team works incredibly hard; they invest a huge amount of themselves into making Ordo all it can be. I’ve got to make sure the decisions I make honour that hard work and dedication, as well as always providing our customers with excellent products. This is a huge responsibility and not one I take lightly.
The best Ordo moment so far?
Listing in Sainsbury’s was a big moment for us. We were taken on as part of their Future Brands program and have been given prominent shelf space to install stand-out display units, complete with out-of-box brushes. They really believe in the brand and what we’re trying to do. It was a key step in transforming into the oral care brand we knew we could become. A lot of people still engage with oral care through established retail stores, so to really challenge the big players it was fantastic to get headline space in a supermarket like Sainsbury’s.
Which of your products is your favourite?
Our Sonic+ electric toothbrush is the pinnacle of what we’re trying to do as a business: offer stylish, effective and affordable oral care that people actually want to use each and every day. It’s been a storming success and has set a strong foundation for the business.
Anything exciting in the pipeline?
We’ve got a number of exciting products in the works, as well as developments to the products we currently offer. Sustainability continues to be a core focus for us moving forward, as it should be.
In addition to our sustainable Complete Care Toothpaste, we also offer a reusable mouthwash bottle and concentrated mouthwash product, which uses 96% less plastic than conventional mouthwash bottles, as well as reducing CO2 emissions by decreasing the water weight transported through the supply chain. Despite this, we know we can do more to offer our customers much needed sustainable solutions in oral care. We’ve got lots in the pipeline in this regard and we’re excited to bring these developments to customers soon.
You may see something for the little ones soon too, as well as new colours in our Sonic+ range. We’ve also had a lot of demand for a Sonic+ charging travel case, which many will be pleased to hear we’re working on.