Meet Jessica Sheppard and Rhaelyn Gillespie, founders of the world’s first oil-based breath mint. Women of Influence

Mintier is a first of its kind product solving a universal problem: bad breath. When founders Jessica Sheppard and Rhaelyn Gillespie learned that sugar is the main ingredient in traditional breath mints, they questioned what that does to your oral health. It turns out sugar feeds the oral bacteria in your mouth, making your breath worse and at an accelerated rate — so they created a 100% natural alternative that is the world’s first oil-based breath mint. Since inspiration first hit in 2019, the duo has participated in Arlene Dickinson’s VenturePark Labs accelerator program, were fully funded on Kickstarter in less than 24 hours, and now Mintier is available in over 100 stores and onlineboth in Canada and the US.

My first job ever was…

Rhaelyn: Subway Sandwich Artist… Yes, that’s what we were called. Subway is where I learned to work hard and that hard work turns into money. I would often ask to extend my shifts and stay late for my coworkers to pull 12-hour days because I just liked making my own money.

Jessica: Walmart cashier! I met so many great people working here and some I still keep in touch with. It taught me how to be accountable, how to work hard (even when you don’t want to), and how to prioritize my time.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because…

R: It partially runs in my blood, with entrepreneurial roots through two of my aunt’s and also through my dad. Although they cautioned me about the amount of work, stress, time, and luck it takes, it still felt like my calling. Plus, I was fortunate enough to meet the most perfect cofounder to embark on this venture with.

J: I was searching for a breath mint that would actually work and could not find one. I really could not find something that would freshen my breath while I was on the go, and would be good for my oral health. After meeting Rhae and brainstorming this idea further, it was a no-brainer that we had to do it. It’s been an exciting journey creating a product we believe in so much.

I founded Mintier because…

R: This was a problem that needed to be solved, and a category that dare I say it, needed to be disrupted. Bad breath is a universal problem that we all experience, and it blew our minds to learn that sugar feeds the oral bacteria in your mouth and that traditional mints and gum are primarily composed of sugar. A little counterintuitive right? We thought so, and sought to create a breath mint that was entirely sugar-free and sugar alcohol free. The only way to do this was to create the world’s first oil-based breath mint, Mintier.

J: It was a problem I personally needed a solution to. Mintier is a game changer because it’s convenient to bring with you on the go while giving you long lasting fresh breath. It’s everything we needed and more!

“I’ve found a lot of my confidence in business and when I look back at how long it has taken to get to this moment, I’m genuinely very proud of myself for not giving up.”

I’m passionate about our product because…

R: Natural products are a part of my everyday life and routines, and to find a product that fits into that, solves a serious problem, and gives me fresh breath I can help others be confident in is a serious passion

J: Oral care is a part of our self care. Taking care of my body through natural products has always been important to me and having a product like Mintier that truly makes a difference in my everyday life is something I am very passionate about.

My proudest accomplishment is…

R: When we presented for a demo day my aunt streamed it to our TV and my 92-year-old Nonna went over to my parents house, the house I grew up in, to watch. My mom later told me that my Nonna grabbed my mom’s hand while we were presenting with tears in her eyes, and now she thinks I’m famous. She is the coolest, smartest, most magnetic woman to be around and I’m so proud to make her proud.

J: Starting this business. I’ve found a lot of my confidence in business and when I look back at how long it has taken to get to this moment, I’m genuinely very proud of myself for not giving up. I owe a lot of that to having Rhae as a co-founder to lean on, learn from and just have a good friend by my side through some of the harder days. (We’ve had lots of them!)

My biggest setback was…

R: Delays delays, and it was so frustrating.

J: Trying to make a sugar-free breath mint in my kitchen. Some of the best founder stories I’ve heard were started by the founder making it in their kitchen — and I couldn’t make this idea work! Little did we know that you needed some type of sugar or sugar alcohol to bind the mint into the solid form. Although it was a pivotal moment for Rhae and I, at the time it felt like a set back.

I overcame it by…

R: Focusing on what we could control was what got us through it. Shipping delays, supply chain issues, and manufacturing delays were out of our control, but launching a crowdfunding campaign, participating in an accelerator program, and strategizing our launch were in our control so we decided to focus on that. It all worked out in the long run!

J: Trying to figure it out! It’s really just as simple as that. We spent a lot of time researching. At the end of the day we wanted to create a breath freshener that worked and was completely free of sugar and sugar alcohols and we did just that.

My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is…

R: Don’t delay, get started as soon as you can! There’s so much to learn on the go, and so many inevitable mistakes to make, the sooner you get started, the sooner you can learn and grow. We actually started a health & wellness focused business a year ago as we were planning and preparing Mintier. They now operate as sister companies!

J: If you feel like you have it in you to be an entrepreneur — just go for it! It’s a cheesy saying, but better to try and fail than fail to try.

The one piece of advice I give that I have trouble following myself is…

R: Work/life balance. Honestly my work is my life and my life is my work but it’s very hard to separate the two. I’m not even sure that I want to at this point in my life, but I’m sure as time goes on and my priorities shift, there will be some changes I need to make.

J: Time-block your day. Although I always plan my day the night before, and some days I have great time management skills, there are many days right now that seem like there’s just not enough hours in the day!

“We are so devoted to this business and see the potential in Mintier. We traded in the 9-5 lifestyle for a 24/7 lifestyle and I absolutely love it.”

The thing I love most about what I do is…

R: The reactions people have to something we’ve created is so humbling. It’s really what gets me through the tough days.

J: Seeing Mintier in the hands of our customers and retailers carrying it in their store. It still feels very surreal some days!

If I were to pick one thing that has helped me succeed, it would be…

R: My work ethic. We are so devoted to this business and see the potential in Mintier. We traded in the 9-5 lifestyle for a 24/7 lifestyle and I absolutely love it.

J: I’ll second what Rhae said — quitting our stable 9-5 jobs and giving our all to Mintier has already proven to have been the best decision we’ve made for the health of the business.

I stay inspired by…

R: Consistently reflecting on my “why.” This is an exercise that a manager asked me to complete and it really shifted my perspective on work, goals, and the alignment of my day-to-day work towards those goals.

J: Taking time, even if it’s just walking my dog, to unplug and take a step back. Taking a step back really helps me see the full picture when I feel like I’m caught up in a busy day.

The future excites me because…

R: Mintier has so much potential because bad breath truly is a universal problem. Plus, I get to build a business with one of my best friends. How cool is that?!

J: We are just getting started! We have a lot of work to do but I’m really just so excited for this journey we are on together.

My next step is…

R: Getting Mintier into a store near you! For now though you can order on our website to try the new standard of Fresh Breath!

J: To change the way you experience a breath mint and the way you think of fresh breath. Mintier is a game changer and we can’t wait for you to try it!

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