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Adam Hewison stands in his home office in Harpswell on Thursday. Hewison, a retired floor trader and financial expert, was diagnosed with prostate cancer five years ago. Hoping to raise money for cancer research, he and two friends founded Believe Oral Care, a natural toothpaste brand. All proceeds will be donated to cancer hospitals or charities. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

A new Maine-based toothpaste brand is working to take out more than plaque buildup and bad breath. It’s coming for cancer, too.

Believe Oral Care, founded by Harpswell resident Adam Hewison, is a nonprofit toothpaste company formed with the sole purpose of raising money for cancer charities, hospitals and research. The oral care company will donate 100 percent of its profits to charities including Maine Cancer Foundation, the American Cancer Society and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Hewison said.

It’s a personal matter for Hewison, who was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer in 2017.

The news was “all the kinds of things you don’t want to hear,” he said.

Believe Oral Care toothpaste products are displayed in company co-founder Adam Hewison’s Harpswell home on Thursday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

But it didn’t take long for the naturally optimistic Hewison’s outlook to shift from “pity party” to opportunity, he said.

“I believe this is something given to me for a reason,” said Hewison, a retired floor trader and financial expert. “The reason, I believe, was to help other people.”

The toothpaste side of the equation didn’t happen immediately.

Hewison is the first to admit that he has no experience with toothpaste other than his role as the minty goo he uses to brush his teeth. It was on an anniversary trip to Maui with his wife, with the idea of ​​helping people percolating in the back of his mind, that inspiration struck.

They were watching the sunset. Everyone around them was happy and smiling. Seeing so many sets of pearly whites on display triggered something in his brain, Hewison said, and he thought, “Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s a toothpaste.”

So he went from there.

Hewison teamed up with Pamela Hurley-Moser, founder of Hurley Travel Experts in Portland, and Reed Allen, co-founder of REDD, a Maine-made energy bar brand.

“It’s important if you go on this cancer journey to believe you’re going to get better,” Hewison said.

Thus, Believe Oral Care was born.

The products – a mint toothpaste, a children’s vanilla toothpaste and a mouthwash – are advertised as all-natural and contain black seed oil as an anti-inflammatory for gums. Each costs just under $10. Like some other natural toothpastes on the market, Believe products don’t contain fluoride, the cavity-fighting ingredient in most oral care brands.

Believe Oral Care is unique in that it’s not a one-time fundraiser from an established brand, said Ray Ruby, director of development at the Maine Cancer Foundation. Instead, it’s an ongoing effort from a new brand with fundraising at its core.

Ruby said the foundation has not yet received any funds from Believe. The toothpaste and mouthwash are both good products, he said, adding that he’s cheering for Hewison.

“I hope it’s successful and supports the work of other organizations like ours,” he said. “That would be wonderful.”

Believe Oral Care is currently sold at Morning Glory Natural Foods in Brunswick, Royal River Natural Foods in Freeport and Bath Natural Market.

Adam Hewison outside his home in Harpswell on Thursday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Hewison hopes to see the toothpaste and mouthwash on shelves in Hannaford and other chains by the end of the year.

His goals for Believe go beyond just seeing the product on store shelves. Hewison wants to see his company dominate the toothpaste industry.

It’s a David and Goliath situation, he said, and the odds are stacked against them.

Believe isn’t exactly a budget toothpaste. Online, both toothpaste flavors and the mouthwash retail for $9.89 apiece. But with enough momentum, Hewison believes the company can make it happen.

“I hope it’s in my lifetime, but it may not be,” he said.

Hewison said his long-term goal is for the company to also generate enough revenue to fund its own independent research.

At some point, the company’s charitable efforts may extend beyond just cancer research, he said, and could include anything from homelessness to food insecurity.

Toothpaste is just the latest venture for Hewison, who has seemingly dabbled in a little bit of everything in his 76 years.

In England, he trained under famous hairdresser Vidal Sassoon in the 1960s and later helped get the New York City salon up and running. He also spent several years as a floor trader in Chicago, then Switzerland.

Hewison started an advisory service for banks in Maryland, and launched INO.com, an online market analysis and trading tool. He briefly owned a wine shop and restaurant. There, he got the idea for a self-aerating wine bottle that he hopes will hit the market soon. The list goes on.

Like everything else he’s done, Hewison said, he started by “winging it” and holding onto the firm belief that it will all work out.

He declined to provide any sales data, and the three local markets that carry the product have only had it for a few days or weeks.

Despite this, Tracee Pushard, owner of Royal River Natural Foods, said it’s already selling well.

“Most people want to do good; they just oftentimes don’t know how to do that,” she said. “This is a very easy way to do that.”

Black seed oil is also very popular right now, Pushard noted, which she expects will make the toothpaste even more attractive to customers.

She’s happy to support Hewison’s cause.

“We were very touched by the story and what he wants to do,” she said. “How can you say no to someone who wants to work on fighting cancer and is donating 100 percent of proceeds to cancer research? We were all totally on board.”


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