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Couple launches product expected to bring smiles to their customers

Nate and Wendy Gill and their daughter, Kia, are all smiles in discussing a new product they’ve brought to market. Smile Sparks kits allow people to temporarily attach small clear and colored crystals to their teeth to create a sparkling effect. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Nate and Wendy Gill have launched a product they expect to bring smiles to a lot of customers. But the Gills can’t help but smile themselves in pondering the potential for their new venture.

The entrepreneurial couple has developed a kit that enables people to temporarily attach small crystals to their teeth to create a sparkling effect. “It’s just so fun,” Wendy said. “Everybody who tries it, loves it. It makes people smile more.”

While the Gills and their Grand Junction company have just started marketing what they call Smile Sparks, they’ve set an ambitious sales goal: 20,000 units a month.

That number is attainable, Nate said, for a number of reasons, not the least of which the company has a jump on the U.S. market. “We want to be the first and we want to to be the best,” he said.

Nattana Johnson, owner of Monument Graphics & Communications in Grand Junction, has been helping the Gills market and publicize their enterprise. Johnson described Smile Sparks as one of the most exciting product launches in which she’s ever been involved.

At $19.95 for what’s billed as a classic kit, Smile Sparks are affordable. And the target market of teen-agers and young adults is huge, Johnson said.

What’s more, there’s a good chance of starting a trend that could prove immensely popular, she said. “I just think it’s really cool.”

Wendy said her interest in dental jewelry goes back more than 20 years, when she saw a woman in a park with a star on what was likely an artificial tooth.

 

Wendy said she experimented with attaching decals for fingernails on teeth, but that didn’t work well.

Smile Sparks uses the same dental adhesive used by dentists.

The classic Smile Sparks kit includes five, clear Swarovski brand crystals as well as adhesive, applicator wands, cotton rolls, and a ultraviolet lamp about the size of a AAA battery.

After drying the surface of a tooth, applying the adhesive and positioning a crystal, the UV lamp is used to cure the adhesive and hold the crystal in place.

The crystals will remain in place for up to two weeks, but can be removed at any time using dental floss.

In addition to the classic kit with clear crystals, customers can purchase themed kits with colored crystals — pink, for example, or orange and blue crystals for Broncos fans. Alternatively, customers can choose crystals in 14 different colors.

Wendy said Smile Sparks offer a more affordable and flexible option to other alternatives for dental jewelry. Some dentists install jewelry, but the procedures can be expensive and, in some cases, permanent, she added.

The Gills see the target market for Smile Sparks as teen-agers and young adults age 15 to 25, mostly girls and women. Although boys and men who’ve tried the product also like it, they said.

The Gills sell Smile Sparks through their website and expect the bulk of sales to occur online. If a major retailer were to approach them to discuss selling Smile Sparks, Nate said the couple would consider that conversation.

As their company grows, the Gills plan to expand the product line to include apparel.

For now, though, the Gills have high hopes about selling Smile Sparks to not only bolster their venture, but also bring additional business to the local companies they’ve enlisted to help them. That includes not only Johnson’s marketing firm, but also a law firm, accounting firm and a printing business.

Nate said he gave up a lucrative career to start his own business, but is excited to finally pursue his entrepreneurial dreams. “It’s been an incredible adventure.”

Wendy said she’s been inspired. “I hope men are encouraged by Nate.

That’s the only way to do it — dive in,” she said. “It’s just so scary, but so worth it.”

The effort to bring smiles to their customers has put smiles on their faces, too.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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