Colorado Springs, Colorado
Oral care products
Fields not only thinks -- as she puts it -- "outside the box," she thinks outside the toothpaste tube, as well.
Instead of using a paste with SLS or SCG and other ingredients she considers unhealthy, Fields brushes her pearly whites with her own jarred tooth powder. The powder doesn't contain dyes, which are allergens to some people. Rather than fluoride, it employs mineral-containing salts: "Fluoride is not the only thing that puts minerals back on teeth," she says. Essential oils, like clove and cinnamon, add a "shotgun effect," scouring plaque off of teeth while also serving antimicrobial and antioxidant roles.
Fields instructs customers to spit after brushing, -- but not to rinse, since she says tap water is quite often acidic, just like the enamel-decaying foods many people love. The powder helps restore the mouth to an alkaline state. "If you are using our tooth powder a couple of times a day, you should get just the same kind of benefit without having to worry about the health effects of using a toothpaste," says Fields.
Frau Fowler won Naturally Boulder's Pitch Slam in 2016, the same year Fields started the business. She told the judges: "[The tooth powder] contains well-researched ingredients that rebuild enamel, kill bacteria, and heal the gums." It's also organic, non-GMO, and cruelty-free.
Her tooth powder may be unorthodox, but Fields says it's gaining acceptance: "We are dentist-recommended. We have loads of dentists who even get the product themselves. Some sell the product."
Prior to starting her company, Fields was a top athlete who ultimately suffered a series of health setbacks. A USA Track & Field runner, specializing in the 800 meters, Fields contracted Lyme disease (the subject of a book she wrote called The Tick Slayer). She also experienced severe, lingering infections resulting from the extraction of her wisdom teeth. After five years away from the race track -- a period during which she spent time bedridden -- Fields returned to running. But ultimately, she says, she had a change of heart about the pursuit, deciding to focus on helping others, rather than seeking personal glory on the track.
The company's name Frau Fowler derives from her husband's surname and her own German heritage. Fields hails from a "tough love" family, back home in South Carolina: "They're not necessarily going to tell you what you want to hear, but they'll be honest with you." Hence, one of her company's slogans is "Tough Love Organics."
At a 3,000-square-foot rented space in Colorado Springs, the company manufactures its products in-house to ensure quality, utilizing reusable and refillable packaging. Fields, a food scientist and packaging engineer, has assistance from her husband, Benjamin Dylan Fowler, a heavy-equipment mechanic: "There's not a single thing that he can't fix when it breaks [like our salt mill or tablet press]." And the company employs a chemist, Eileen Koop, who once worked for Colgate Palmolive. Fields extends praise to Koop for helping to develop the tableted product called SUR'SE -- which can be chewed or sucked like a mint -- from ingredients which are tricky to compress together. "It's everything you can get in our tooth powder, but without [needing to use a] brush," says Fields.
Other products include essential oil blends with names like "Vitality" and "Breathe Easy." Essential oils are also contained within the company's nasal inhalers (one's called "German Thieves," a product based upon the Four Thieves tonic used during the plague). And there's a mouth spray called Artemist, which contains wormwood oil, derived from artemisia -- "a very interesting herb that's fantastic for throat and mouth hygiene."
"We've had exponential growth each year," says Fields. "Last year, it was about 800 percent growth. And we're on track to being this year -- even with the COVID situation -- about 1,000 percent growth from the previous year."
Saying she loves working in the field of personal care, Fields declares, "If we can get the right kind of healthy product into people's hands -- where they use it twice a day, maybe three times a day -- then we have a huge impact on people in a very healthy way. And that makes me feel really good."
Challenges: "I think the biggest challenge has always been the situation with stores," says Fields. She decries getting the "runaround -- collecting what's owed to us."
Opportunities: Fields says that customers "buying direct from us" via the website are driving growth especially since the onset of COVID-19. "It might be something that keeps growing in that direction."
Needs: "Getting the right people to help," says Fields, noting that it's hard to keep pace with Colorado's housing market and cost of living from a pay perspective.