By Sheri Guell
Tell me a little about your background?
Amra: I grew up in Sarajevo, Bosnia and became a refugee at the age of 8 years old. Because of the war, the Bosnian economy was non-existent and my parents could not find work. My parents, to try and provide the best life for me and my sister, applied for refugee status and moved us to the United States and established a life in the Michigan.
What made you create a toothpaste and start your own company?
Amra: When I was pregnant, I decided to switch to all natural products. I found really good personal care products but there was one small thing missing for me. All of the natural toothpastes I found, didn’t whiten teeth, so I decided to do some research and that is when I came across activated charcoal.
As far as starting my own company, I had worked for several start-up companies in the beauty industry and learned so much from working for them. I decided to start my own company and do things my way; honest, all-natural, good for the planet, and most importantly pay it forward to other women. So, my sister Azra and I formed Terra & Co.
I’m still blown away that you would create your own toothpaste. How did you come up with the formula?
Amra: I researched natural ingredients and played with the formula in my kitchen. When I found the right combination of ingredients, I hired a lab to create the final formula.
I worked for two years to develop and manufacture Terra & Co Brilliant Black Toothpaste and I’m very proud to say that our Brilliant Black Toothpaste is made in the USA and also FDA approved.
What are the key ingredients in the Brilliant Black Toothpaste?
Amra: Purified water, diatomaceous earth, baking soda, xylitol, coconut oil, activated charcoal, peppermint oil, xanthan gum and tea tree oil.
Tell me a little more about the active ingredients and what they do?
Amra: The activated charcoal is antibacterial and anti-fungal, and also binds to bacteria, plaque and tartar to help remove stains and whiten the teeth. It also helps promote a healthy pH level in our mouths.
Baking soda is also another agent that helps naturally whiten and polish the teeth. It fights plaque which causes dry mouth.
The coconut oil is naturally antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal. This helps to remove plaque that causes gingivitis, as well as, whitening teeth.
Peppermint oil is a powerful anti-septic essential oil that helps to combat bad breath and the tea tree oil is an anti-inflammatory and anti-septic. It helps remove the bacteria that causes plaque, receding gums and tartar deposits.
I noticed Xylitol in the ingredient list. Isn’t that a natural alternative to sugar? What does that do in a toothpaste?
Amra: Xylitol is a birch-derived sugar. It helps remineralization to strengthen the enamel and fight cavities. It’s natural sweetness also helps ensure great taste.
There is no fluoride or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) in the Brilliant Black Toothpaste. Why?
Amra: SLS is a common ingredient in personal care products. It is a chemical additive that allows cleansing products to foam, but it is not necessary to clean teeth. There has been some controversy with fluoride so I didn’t want to include it in the toothpaste. Instead, I found diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth helps solidify the enamel and helps clean, prevent tooth decay and preserve healthy teeth. It also helps prevent bleeding and receding gums, as well as fighting cavities and inflammation.
There are quite a few natural toothpastes and charcoal toothpastes on the market. What makes Terra and Co.’s Brilliant Black Toothpaste different?
Amra: We are an all-woman operated company that gives back to other women. Our Brilliant Black Toothpaste is 100% non-toxic, 100% all natural, 100% vegan and cruelty-free. We are made in the United States and FDA approved.
Speaking of giving back, for every toothpaste sold, you give one to the Los Angeles Women’s Shelter. What inspired you to get involved and give back?
Amra: As a single mom, I find myself inspired to make the best life possible for my daughter and I want to help other woman do the same for their children. I want to inspire and empower all women. We are all sisters and need to stick together and help each other.
Stay tuned for our next post – Meet co-founder Azra.