In Conversation with Lisa & Vanessa Creaven of Spotlight Oral Care

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Describe your business in a few words?

Providing targeted,  harm-free oral care products to elevate your smile! 

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

As practicing dentists, we witnessed our patients struggle to find safe and effective oral care products to target their specific goals. We could see that a lot of our patients were confused about what products they should use. We were inspired and motivated by this to create targeted products that were good for overall oral health and easy to use too. This is how Spotlight Oral Care was born! 

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

Lisa: I studied Dentistry in Trinity College Dublin and opened Quay Dental Clinic in Galway in 2006 before Spotlight Oral Care’s official launch in 2016, when I transitioned to the role as Director of Communications for the brand.  

Vanessa: I studied Dentistry in Trinity College Dublin & King’s College London before working with Lisa at her Quay Dental Clinic practice, and then transitioned over full time for Spotlight Oral Care. I now look after New Product Development for the brand.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I think we have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Even at our dental practice we always strived to offer the latest in oral care advances so creating our own range of products was very exciting for us. 

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

When we first brought out our first product, we simply focused on making the product as good as it could be. We put all of our effort into making a teeth whitening system that was effective, was safe to use and caused minimal sensitivity. Our products were originally made for our patients and thankfully word of mouth is what got our company off the ground initially. 

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

I think what has been challenging is seeing the rise of fad products with no clinical research. As dentists, your oral health is our primary concern and every product we bring out is based on a body of scientific research. We want to create products that work and are safe. A lot of products that are marketed as natural are actually quite damaging to your oral health and to counteract this we try to stick to our clear messaging and focusing back on the effectiveness and safety of our products. 

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

The fact that Spotlight Oral Care has developed into a product offering that is safe to both humans and animals and is also solution driven and effective.  

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Covid has significantly impacted the oral health market at every level. From a practicing dentists point of view, due to the creation of aerosols during some treatments in the surgery, there was a lot of confusion at the beginning as to what was safe and unsafe. We faced the same challenges such as sourcing adequate PPE and changing our practice set ups to ensure we could offer a safe environment for both our teams and our patients. 

Covid is likely to play a larger role in terms of oral health too. Oral health is often further down the list of priorities when it comes to health and there is a fear that a lack of accessibility to dentists may worsen this situation. The good news is that 90% of dental health is achieved through diet and lifestyle habits and what your oral health routine is at home. By focusing on trying to improve your oral health at home, using products with clinically proven active ingredients and engaging in true preventative oral hygiene habits, we can reduce oral disease during this time.

On the flip side of things, more people are aware of overall health because of the pandemic which helps drive our conversations around the importance of choosing better oral care products and maintaining oral health. 

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

We want to develop our offer with effective, sustainable products that will help people take care of their oral health from home. The dental industry continues to innovate and we plan to lead the way!

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

Learning how to be nimble and working with the times. Like most businesses, we’ve had to be reactive in 2020 based on these unprecedented times. 

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

That you can’t control everything but by staying focused on the mission of what you’re trying to accomplish will really help you get through any of the hard days. So just keep moving forward!

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

Staying passionate about what we do always helps us keep focus. It’s easy to lose sight when things are so uneasy and changes are happening so rapidly, but we’re in it for the long-run and we’re extremely passionate about educating and providing better oral care options.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

It can be tough balancing everything but it’s totally worth it. We both still practice as dentists which makes us extremely busy but family always does come first. We’re lucky that we’re sisters so we don’t have to necessarily stick to a 9-to-5 schedule – we can call to each other’s houses to go over a couple of things.  The bottom line for us is that we love the work we do, that’s what motivates us to keep going!

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

My favorite part about Spotlight Oral Care is the interaction with our customers. As a dentist, I love meeting my patients and getting to know them as individuals. With Spotlight, this interaction is primarily online but I still love simply answering the day to day concerns of my customers online.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

  • Write a prioritized list of things to do each day and keep it realistic 
  • Connect with your team in the morning and evening to ensure everything is on track – this helps eliminate miscommunications and keeps everyone as focused as possible 
  • Have a goal list of priorities before each meeting to make sure they’re structured and the time is used efficiently

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Joining forces with talented, motivated business women across all different industries. 

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