( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) The Whoa Collection: A Creative Collaboration Transforming Oral Healthcare and Representation
In a groundbreaking partnership between LISTERINE and Compound, a dynamic creative agency dedicated to celebrating and elevating culture, The Whoa Collection has emerged as a beacon of hope and change within the realm of dentistry, particularly in the Black community. This visionary collaboration seeks to address the stark diversity gap in the dental profession, a mission that resonates deeply with its creators. The Collection is a multi-faceted endeavor featuring contributions from renowned visual artist King Saladeen and Grammy-award-winning producer Thundercat, offering a sensory experience designed to raise awareness, inspire long-term support, and pave the way for better representation in this crucial field.
Saladeen’s limited-edition bottle art is at the forefront of The Whoa Collection, exemplifying his unique artistic flair. These bottles not only serve as striking visual pieces but also carry a profound message of diversity and inclusivity. Available for purchase at Target (and soon at Walmart), they offer consumers an opportunity to support a cause that transcends aesthetics. Notably, up to $150,000 in proceeds from the sale of limited-edition bottles and the auction of Saladeen’s original artwork will directly benefit Increasing Diversity in Dentistry (IDID), a burgeoning nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the development, mentorship, and retention of Black dental professionals. This collaboration embodies a shared commitment to make a tangible difference in bridging the diversity gap in dentistry, amplifying voices, inspiring minds, and nurturing the aspirations of those eager to reduce healthcare disparities and serve their communities.
We spoke with Set Free Richardson, founder of partner agency Compound about this groundbreaking collaboration.
Can you tell us more about your involvement in The Whoa Collection collaboration with LISTERINE? What inspired you to participate in this initiative?
We were (Compound) humbled and honored to work closely with LISTERINE and bring The Whoa Collection to life – from the production of custom designs to the mastering of the original track and capturing and editing behind-the-scenes content.
Growing up where I did, we didn’t always have access to dentists. We would sometimes brush our teeth with baking soda or peroxide. We had toothpaste, but had to be careful and sometimes creative when taking care of our teeth. There was always Listerine in our cabinet. I still remember those early days of that Whoa effect. But, here we are, years later and we’re connecting music, art, and fashion to help mitigate the disparity in dental diversity.
Saladeen’s limited-edition bottle art is a standout feature of The Whoa Collection. Can you share more about the creative process behind these designs and how he incorporated his unique artistic style into these bottles?
We’ve collaborated with King Saladeen for years. He’s like a brother to me, hailing from Philadelphia and growing up in a similar situation to mine. So, he recognizes the importance of representation, especially in professions like this one.
Saladeen channeled that reverence and eagerness to help through the way he knows best – his art. These bottles are true depictions of what Whoa means to him. And, what’s great about the collection is it doesn’t stop there. We took this art to original robes and slippers, too – pieces that are a part of our nighttime prep and routine.
Could you provide some insights into the artwork itself and what it represents in the context of this initiative?
The bottles reflect Saladeen’s DNA and style but are a complement and a critical part of the collaboration overall. These visuals bring Whoa to the shelf in a way that only Saladeen can.
How do you feel including music from Grammy-award-winning producer Thundercat complements the goals of The Whoa Collection, and what was your experience working with Thundercat on this project?
Another big part of that Whoa feeling is the sound. You don’t think about it. But, it’s there from when you unscrew that cap to when you place the bottle back on the shelf. Thundercat is such a respected talent within the community and somebody who genuinely understands the importance of seeing those who look like you in these important roles. He put together an impressive track that I think really embodies that Whoa and gives all of this a soundtrack.
The initiative aims to improve representation and diversity in dentistry within the Black community. Can you discuss the importance of supporting organizations like Increasing Diversity in Dentistry (IDID) and how the proceeds from this collaboration will contribute to their mission?
IDID is doing some incredible work, elevating aspiring Black dentists through test prep, scholarship, mentorship, and even, networking. Proceeds from the collection will directly benefit the organization and its current and future members through some of these elements. That feels pretty good. But, I’m hopeful that this is just the beginning. By improving Black representation in dentistry, we can also impact the overall understanding and access around and to oral health.
In addition to the physical products, The Whoa Collection features original content and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the creative process. What do you hope audiences take away from this multimedia experience, and how can individuals get involved in supporting this cause beyond purchasing limited-edition bottles?
That’s been one of the most fun parts of this experience, is capturing the excitement and the artistic process of Thundercat and King. I encourage the community to check out what LISTERINE and the Compound have put together. Visit listerine.com/whoacollection or our socials and let us know what you think and share that Whoa with your friends and family. We need everybody’s help to continue to spread awareness and effect change.
In a world where the representation of Black dentists remains startlingly low, initiatives like The Whoa Collection become pivotal in promoting understanding, improving access to healthcare, and addressing disparities in oral health. As the statistics reveal, while over 12% of the U.S. population is Black, less than 4% of practicing dentists identify as such, creating a stark contrast that underscores the necessity for change. LISTERINE’s dedication to supporting underserved communities extends far beyond this collaboration, with a rich history of partnerships with organizations like the National Dentist Association (NDA), the Black Women’s Health Alliance, and the University of Detroit Mercy. These alliances reflect a broader commitment to justice, diversity, and equitable access to healthcare for all.
The Whoa Collection is a testament to the power of art, music, and community engagement in driving transformative change, offering a unique opportunity for everyone to be part of this vital movement. Together, we can positively impact the landscape of oral healthcare and ensure that representation and access truly reflect the diversity of our society.
For more information, click here and join us in supporting a brighter future for oral healthcare and diversity in dentistry.