( ENSPIRE Business ) Making A Difference With Every Brush with “Our Reflections”
ENSPIRE Contributor: Gabel Strickland
Your toothbrush is crucial–it prepares you for every day and keeps one of your most vital organs healthy. And yet, we don’t give it much thought. But Elnora Harris has thought about this crucial tool. That’s why in February 2022 she started “Our Reflections,” a toothbrush brand for Black youth.
Every morning when a child brushes their teeth, they take a moment to look at their reflection in the mirror. Often for Black children, that reflection is in stark contrast to the image on their toothbrushes. Once Harris became a mother herself, she wondered how this can repeatedly influence their self-image and sense of belonging. And how she can do something about it.
Our Reflections started when I saw my youngest daughter brushing her teeth with a toothbrush that featured a popular Caucasian pop icon and thought ‘it would be awesome for my daughter to see someone that looks like her every morning when she is brushing her teeth,” Harris said. “I want children in minority communities to see images of characters that reflect them on everyday basic essentials.”
These toothbrushes feature more than young Black characters. Our Reflections offers two styles of toothbrushes. The first is outfitted with light-up features and manual timers. The other is a line of electric toothbrushes that come with extra toothbrush heads and a battery. The toothbrushes also have encouraging phrases on them like “I sparkle,” “Brush Like A Boss,” “Smile Beautiful,” “Brush it Then Crush It.”
“With so much negativity in the world, we want to bring joy and a sense of happiness to kids when they first wake up in the morning or even before they go to bed at night,” Harris said. “We want them to understand that who they are makes them just as unique, beautiful, and included in this world we live in.”
Cultivating positive feelings around oral care is especially important for members of underprivileged populations, especially racial minorities. According to the Annual Review of Public Health, “in the United States, people are more likely to have poor oral health if they are low-income, uninsured, and/or members of the racial/ethnic minority, immigrant, or rural populations who have suboptimal access to oral health care. As a result, poor oral health serves as the national symbol of health care.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “Based on data from 2011 to 2016, for children aged 2 to 5 years, about 33% of Mexican American and 28% of non-Hispanic Black children have had cavities in their primary teeth, compared with 18% of non-Hispanic White children.” Black adults also have more oral health problems than white adults. Creating a positive relationship with teeth care for Black children might deter oral health problems later in life.
“Our Reflections wants to partner with dentists to reduce these disparities in the rate of cavities and integrate oral health care products that children would be excited to use every day. We feel our messaging and beautiful characters will help improve a child’s self-image,” Harris said.
Since founding Our Reflections, Harris has gotten a lot of positive feedback from children who have used her toothbrushes. Children love seeing themselves in both their mirror and their toothbrush. But it’s not just children who are pleased with the brushes, but the adults in their lives as well. To her, it’s an affirmation that her toothbrushes are making a difference in the daily lives of children like her own.
“Parents, kids, and even dentists are very excited about these toothbrushes,” Harris said. “Kids have made remarks such as ‘Nora looks like me’ or ‘she wears her hair like me’ and we’ve even had a dentist post on Instagram that ‘John kinda looks like me.’”
With Thanksgiving coming up, children are going to be brushing a lot of feasts from their teeth. Maybe this year, some of them will use Our Reflections toothbrushes. Their toothbrushes are available for order right now on their website. After spending her life caring for children, Harris hopes that this Thanksgiving and after children will feel better about themselves and their oral health.
“Being a mother of 3 and a veteran school teacher for those with special needs, I understand the social-emotional needs of children,” Harris said. “I started Our Reflections as a practical way to fill a social-emotional need for children and parents in ethnically diverse communities by producing and marketing quality children’s products that reflect them and their ethnicity, building positive self-image and confidence in a way that is uplifting and encouraging.”
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