A natural, environmentally friendly alternative to the common toothbrush
Local social entrepreneur Umar Ahmed is the owner of Twiggy Fresh, an eco-friendly, bamboo toothbrush company. The business was launched online in 2018. Now, customers can purchase the products at the Mall of America’s (MOA) Community Commons.
The unique business was selected as one of 17 businesses to be featured at MOA’s Community Commons. All 17 tenants occupy a large storefront space and receive six months of free rent. The effort launched in October 2020.
The MOA’s rent subsidy is an effort to support minority-owned businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest. Every business has its own interesting backstory and products for sale.
The Twiggy Fresh pop-up brings something new and innovative to the MOA and Minnesota. “The natural toothbrushes are made with bamboo,” Ahmed explained, “[with] natural nylon for the bristles.”
Customers can also purchase natural Miswak sticks. The Miswak twig derives from the Salvadoran Persica tree. “It’s more natural and connects people with nature,” Ahmed said.
He added, “I grew up in Somalia using something called Miswak. It’s a natural twig that people use many places around the world, and that’s what I grew up with. I came here 20 years ago, and I still use it.”
When customers purchase the Twiggy Fresh bamboo toothbrushes, they’ll be supporting more than one business. The business values social responsibility, and a portion of proceeds are allocated to local organizations that are making a positive change within the community.
The process of developing and distributing the bamboo toothbrushes and products is quite extensive. “We have over six manufacturers that we use for our designs,” Ahmed said. “They are all made out of bamboo.” As a result, he offers an incredible product line that exemplifies high quality matched with affordability.
The price range is $2 for Miswak and $3.59 for bamboo toothbrushes. The Miswak Sticks are very popular. The chewing sticks help clean teeth and are enriched with antibacterial properties. In all, the Twiggy Fresh products serve as a healthy alternative instead of using a standard plastic toothbrush.
Ahmed described the purpose of the brand as “doing something that’s more natural, that’s good for the customer and the environment.”
As a social entrepreneur, Ahmed utilizes his company to create solutions that address social and environmental issues. “What we’re trying to do is create environmental mindfulness,” Ahmed emphasized. The products are geared toward reducing plastic waste.
When asked about the durability of the products, Ahmed said, “Our toothbrushes last three months. What we’re trying to do is create an environmentally friendly toothbrush.” Customers can also purchase a natural dental floss.
Most recently, Twiggy Fresh introduced a new and innovative product. They have a new digital water bottle that stands out due to the exemplary technology incorporated into the design. This new product can keep liquids hot or cold for 12 hours.
To that end, it’s no wonder why Ahmed was chosen to be included in ImpactSKU, an accelerator program. The goal of the program is to “accelerate innovation and entrepreneurs within the consumer products industry,” according to the website.
There’s special meaning incorporated into every Twiggy Fresh product, Ahmed explained. “We were so intentional about engraving love on our toothbrushes—it’s about the love for everything in the environment and love for one another.” He added, “It’s about spreading positivity and love.”
In closing, Ahmed spoke about the significance of supporting Black-owned businesses. “As Black people or immigrant people, we have power. I’m starting this journey not for myself, but also for other people who folllow me,” he said. “People want to see what we can accomplish and how far we can take it, but also we need to connect with our own people and also the larger community.”
He added, “Come here and support 17 local vendors. This is the first time MOA put together such a diverse group in 30 something years.”
Community Commons is located on the second level at the Mall of America, 238 South Avenue in Bloomington.
The hours of operation are Monday through Wednesday, 11 am to 7 pm; Thursday through Saturday, from 10 am to 8 pm; and Sundays, from 11 am to 7 pm. For more info, visit www.twiggyfresh.com.
Ashley Lauren is a contributing writer at the MN Spokesman-Recorder.