It all began when I threw away an empty tube of toothpaste. My grad school professor had asked us to redesign the first object we threw out after class and there I stood that evening staring at my trashcan, tasked with reimagining one of the most mundane objects known to man.
Frantically, I went online and began to research: Where did this seemingly universal routine come from? How did people around the world brush their teeth? What was the history behind it?
Eventually I came across an article about the health benefits of the Miswak, and was immediately intrigued. Although I had spent most of my life in the Middle East, I wasn’t very familiar with the Miswak or its medicinal qualities and was particularly fascinated by its anti-addiction effects on smokers, its proven ability to reduce plaque and tooth decay and the natural components in its bristles that help strengthen enamel.
Over the next week, I sketched out ideas and created prototypes of a product that would re-introduce the Miswak to the world by making it easier to cut and peel as well as carry around on the go- and the first version of THIS was born. I presented the project to the class and put it up on my online portfolio, thinking I would never go back to it.
About a month later, THIS accidentally went viral when a popular industrial design blog featured it online, sparking a series of articles and coverage in various publications, blogs and social media outlets. It was eventually voted #27 on The Dieline’s Top 100 Package Designs of 2011, and won the semifinalist award at the Adobe Design Achievement Awards in 2012.
Soon after, I began receiving emails from around the world from curious investors, distributors and supporters asking where they could get their hands on the product. I realized that there were millions of Miswak users who had been waiting for a modern solution to carrying and cutting their miswak, and lots of non-Miswak users who were fascinated by a healthy, natural alternative to dental hygiene. By the time I finished grad school in 2012, my inbox was still flooding with emails from around the world. I decided to take a leap of faith and set off to make THIS a reality along with my partner Omar Farha, a fellow Lebanese entrepreneur based in New York. We revisited the design, ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise money, filed our patents, found the right manufacturers and suppliers, and launched our bilingual brand and website.
We’re excited to share that our first product, the Cutter Case, is finally in production and is expected to launch in early 2015. It features a signature auto-lock cutter cap with two blades that allow for easy cutting and peeling, as well as a transparent tube that keeps your Miswak fresh and clean. Each Cutter Case comes with two all-natural Miswak sticks, with the option of purchasing refill packs of our Miswak whenever you run out. We’ve also partnered with The Miswak Foundation to launch a special campaign that distributes Miswak sticks to people in underprivileged communities with little access to clean water and dental care.
The road to creating THIS has not been easy, but it has been an exciting and rewarding journey to say the least. We hope to become the leading brand for Miswak and Miswak products, and to celebrate this sacred tradition by making it relevant and accessible in our modern age. We want our products to elevate the experience of regular Miswak users, and raise awareness among non-Miswak users about the natural and organic benefits it provides. In our fast-paced world, we believe it is important to value the knowledge of those who came thousands of years before us.