Listen to today's episode, "Why "My Friend Toothy" will KICKSTART Your Kids' Toothbrushing with Stacey Laviolette" as mom, photographer, and children's book author Stacey Laviolette joins Dori Durbin to share how Stacey's daughter's weak enamel inspired a quest to reduce the frustrations of tooth brushing and dental visits. Stacey also shares:
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More about Stacey
Stacey Laviolette is a mom, photographer and children's author who's purpose is to help parents know they are not alone in the struggle of brushing their children's teeth.
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More about Dori Durbin:
Dori Durbin is a Christian wife, mom, author, illustrator, and a kids’ book coach who after experiencing a life-changing illness, quickly switched gears to follow her dream. She creates kids’ books to provide a fun and safe passageway for kids and parents to dig deeper and experience empowered lives. Dori also coaches non-fiction authors and aspiring authors to “kid-size” their content into informational and engaging kids’ books!
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Ways "My Friend Toothy" Solves Tooth Brushing Frustrations with Stacey Laviolette
[00:00:01.290] - Dori Durbin
Have you ever had a bad experience at a dentist? I know I have, unfortunately. And sometimes those bad experiences can haunt us all the way from childhood. But what if what if we were to teach our kids not to be afraid of the dentist and to see it as an opportunity to be healthier? Well, that's exactly what stacey laviolette did with her book, my friend tucson. stacey, let's listen in and see how that happened. Hello, and welcome to the Power of Kids Book Podcast, where we believe that kids book are a catalyst to inspire and empower change. I'm your host, dori durbin, and today we have with us stacey laviolette, an author, an artist, and a photographer. So welcome, stacey.
[00:00:48.730] - Stacey Laviolette
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
[00:00:50.530] - Dori Durbin
And I left off a very important factor that happens to be right in there with you today. You're a mama.
[00:00:57.020] - Stacey Laviolette
Oh, yes. A mama of three and two dogs. So it's always busy here in our homes.
[00:01:02.940] - Dori Durbin
Well, I know that obviously our listener is going to know that you're an author, but tell us a little bit about what else you do besides that.
[00:01:10.840] - Stacey Laviolette
Well, I volunteer for my two daughters jujitsu classes on Wednesday, so I'm active with that. And then just my business is my passion, so it's my hobby, really.
[00:01:26.010] - Dori Durbin
You take pictures for other authors as well as do your own books, right?
[00:01:31.260] - Stacey Laviolette
Yeah. So because I'm a photographer, I wanted to help out other authors because as a self employed entrepreneur and author sure. multitasking. So, yeah, as a photographer and also an indie author, it's very expensive. So I wanted to help out our fellow authors, and I capture images for very little. And they just sent me their books and I capture them. And it helps with the A plus content on Amazon and also marketing for Facebook and ads. So, yeah, it's really nice to help out the community.
[00:02:10.490] - Dori Durbin
So you started off with one book, three, is that right?
[00:02:14.990] - Stacey Laviolette
Oh, boy. I have a lot, actually. Yeah. So my friend susie how to practice good dental hygiene. That is my baby. So that is what I created from starter, like roundup. And for those that don't know, it's not just a book. It's a complete set. So it goes hand in hand, all three items. So the first thing is my book, and it's all about exposure, therapy, going to the dentist, brushing, blossom. I found there weren't many books out there to help educate children on just visually seeing what they need to do and going to the dentist, brushing and glossing. So that's the book. And then I was like, there's got to be something to help my child. And she goes to the dentist to help ease any anxiety. So that's when I came up with the plush toothy and toothy she can take to the dentist. And also she can sleep with toothy. And on the back, where the wings are, there's a pocket so she can put her lost tooth in. And the tooth fairy has a much easier time retrieving the tooth and leaving a little treat. So she was taking this thing everywhere.
[00:03:24.110] - Stacey Laviolette
She was bringing Toothy to the washroom. And I didn't think that was very sanitary. So that's when I came up with the mirror claim. So it's like a sticker, except it's not. So there's no residue left on your mirror at home and you're also able to move it around. So Toothy gets excited when the kids are brushing. And if they don't brush and floss, toothy can slip upside down and have a frown. So this has been a game changer for parents, really. Because if my kids are giving me a hard time before bed, I'm like, what toothy? Toothy is very sad right now. If you're not going to brush your teeth, toothy might not move. So Toothy likes to jump around from bathroom in a bathroom when they go into one, they're like, Toothy followed me into this one. So it helps having multiple toothies in the bathroom in your house. But yeah, so that's the complete set. It helps families. I was just at a playgroup with my son and I have my friend Toothy shirt on. And one of the moms is like, oh, you're the toothy girl. I'm like I am. She's like, I just need to tell you my child begged me to take her to the dentist as soon as she got the box set.
[00:04:32.150] - Stacey Laviolette
And she's like, and I've been trying to get her to go to the dentist and she didn't want to. She's like, that was amazing. And she's like and now she really likes brushing her teeth and takes toothy everywhere. I developed this brand of toothy and helping children. And so from that, that's when I created the activity books. And the activity books are like coloring numbers and the alphabet. And then I have an Early Learning series, which is like not an activity book, but it's called the Early Learning Series. So it's all dental terms from A to Z. Those are the books that I have published, actually. Currently, I have a kickstarter. And the kickstarter is to help get pre orders to get enough money to pay for 1000 books and plushes and box sets. So the kickstarter is for my second book, which is in the My Friend Toothy series. And it's called A Journey to fairyland. And it's all about where Toothy comes from and what the tooth fairy does with our children's lost teeth. It's an exciting book. It's all about like, rainbows. And we'll have a Toothy plush rainbow color to complete the box set.
[00:05:45.790] - Stacey Laviolette
So it explains like, where toothfairies come from and what the tooth fairy does with our lost teeth. And it still has the underlying lesson of brushing and flossing and getting children to get excited to have healthy dental habits. And they can find that kickstarter information on my website as well. Right on the home page, they click on the link and it will take them to the kickstarter so that they can pre order book number two and get a rainbow plus two fee and they get writing rights of helping bring this project to life.
[00:06:21.850] - Dori Durbin
Now, if somebody hasn't done a kickstarter before, can you just really briefly explain what a kickstarter does for you and for them both?
[00:06:30.030] - Stacey Laviolette
Yeah. So a kickstarter, it's a fundraising platform. However, it's not donations, it's actually you are pre ordering an item. So in my instance, it's a book. They can purchase a book. A book and plush box that if we have philanthropists out there who are big into donating, they can actually purchase 20 books. And I would donate those books on their behalf. So there's a wide variety of rewards. Rewards is actually what they're purchasing now. It's an all or nothing. So you set a goal. My goal is 2500 Canadian, so it's a little less American. And once you hit that goal, then it means you have enough money to buy what you need. So the bare minimum for me is 2500. Once I reach that goal, then you have stretch goals, which means, okay, once I reach this amount, this will happen. So once I reach 2500, my next goal is to have it translated into French. So all of my books are bilingual, so there's options to purchase it in English or French. So by having kickstarter, it really serves as a pre order base to help get enough funds to purchase the goods in order to make a business out of it.
[00:07:45.030] - Stacey Laviolette
So the perk for those pre ordering, they get first dibs, they get the original toothy and of course they get the bragging rights that they help bring this project to life. Which is a big deal when you're helping people build a brand. And it's like these people, these fans of toothy are really helping bring it to life. So I'm so thankful for each and every one of them, really.
[00:08:12.030] - Dori Durbin
And your last book was funded the same way, wasn't it?
[00:08:15.740] - Stacey Laviolette
Yes, my last book was funded through kickstarter as well. It was a huge success. I was able to design the boxes for the box set because my vision was I wanted to see it in retail stores and I didn't want just a book and then a plush. Like how do you put that together? How do you package it? So my big goal was to reach 10,000 in pre orders so that I can invest and design my own graphic design skills and create a box. And I was able to do that and it was a very successful kickstarter. My first one.
[00:08:50.570] - Dori Durbin
Well, I can only imagine the second one will be just as successful.
[00:08:54.310] - Stacey Laviolette
Yeah. So just by pre ordering, they preorder it now and it will be here in November. It will be like at the perfect time. I highly suggest this book for children, three months plus. So as soon as they get their first two teaching right away, exposure therapy at a young age, showing brushing and flossing and toothy on their side, there's going to be like a generation of children that are going to love going to the dentist, and very few are going to be afraid of going. So we launched February 7, and the campaign ends March 9 at 08:00 a.m. So super important that they get their pre orders in now. That way, life happens. They don't forget. March 9 comes around and like, oh, shoot, it's 801, and they forgot. So, yeah, it's best to just do it now. As soon as you hear it, jump on the computer. myfriend toothy.com you see on the home page about pre ordering my friend toothy, too, on kickstarter. And if anyone has any issues, just send me a message on my website.
[00:09:52.990] - Dori Durbin
I think that's a great idea, and I can't wait to see how well it goes.
[00:09:57.460] - Stacey Laviolette
[00:09:59.150] - Dori Durbin
I just think about having an idea in your mind that was developed, but maybe not to this extent and how much you've done just based off of need from your own kids.
[00:10:10.050] - Stacey Laviolette
Yeah. What actually sparked this journey was my daughter. When she was three, I was told she had ten cavities. So as a mom, a parent, I felt so much shame and guilt, and I felt alone. I thought I was doing something wrong. And when she went through surgery, not once but twice, she had to get eight metal caps and one toothpold and two cavity fillings. And when I was there, she had to go under because she was so young, she wouldn't sit through all that dental surgery. So we had to put her under, and it was just heartbreaking. And we weren't allowed in the room. We had to sit down, put the oxygen thing, the laughing gas, and then she was out. And then they're like, okay, you can go in the waiting room. And I was like, my heart. I was like, I can't be with my three year old anyway. So as I'm in the waiting room, there's other parents just like, you can feel the anxiety off of them, and it's affecting the child. And I was just calm. I was telling my daughter, it's okay, you're just going to smell something sweet.
[00:11:16.400] - Stacey Laviolette
So I was able to use my imagination to get her to lay down on that chair. And by using my creativity, I realized I was like, I need to educate other parents on how they can feel calm. And that's kind of what then my mission is to let other families and parents know they're not alone in the dental struggle with getting a kid's depression. Glass and they're not failures, really, because that's how I felt. And I was like, if I had this product to help me, I wouldn't be here today if they had this already. But that's what motivated me to kind of bridge the gap of what we were lacking.
[00:11:56.210] - Dori Durbin
That's awesome. So basically, you took your experience, your observations, and even you're kind of in an audience, really, by sitting in that waiting room and feeling all that anxiety, and we're able to just convert it into something that was positive and empowering instead.
[00:12:11.610] - Stacey Laviolette
Yeah. As I was sitting in that waiting room, I was like, there's something good going to happen out of this. And then I totally shifted my feeling bad for myself as a parent to my mission of helping other parents, really, and children. So, yeah, it's my mission. And when I hear those compliments, like, oh, my gosh, you helped change my family's routine and making it a lot easier and no fusses before bedtime, that is, like, what motivates me to keep going.
[00:12:42.290] - Dori Durbin
I remember when my kids were little, I actually got to the point where I had to feel toothbrushes to see if they were wet. And then they got smart and they would just dunk the toothbrush in the water and come back out, and they didn't not actually use it or putting toothpaste on it. That struggle is really honestly real. And I think in your case, I'm not sure what was going on with your daughter, but I know we had a child that had lowy namal, and there's nothing you can do about having low enamel until it's too late, and then you're back into that situation. So I can't imagine being in that situation when your daughter was three. That had to be really hard.
[00:13:20.750] - Stacey Laviolette
And actually so she's five and a half now. We went back to the dentist, and she has five cavities. So in a way, I'm like, it's not the ten. Right. However, five is still a lot for only having 20 teeth. But again, exactly like your instance, she has weakened animals, and that just comes down to genetics. So my third book is going to be tackling that we're going to be taking a trip to the dentist in book number three, and Toothy is going to be their friend and help them get through that journey and also explain that sometimes it is genetic and you could be great at glossing and brushing. Sometimes you're just prone to cavities, and it's okay, and just making children feel confident still, even if they have those metal caps in their mouth. I taught my daughter, like, oh, show grandma and grandpa your jewelry in your mouth. So she'd open it and show her jewelry, her shiny silver teeth. I mean, it was like five grand, so she might as well be proud of it, right?
[00:14:19.440] - Dori Durbin
Definitely. You don't want that trauma of not wanting to open her mouth because she's afraid of what people see either. So that was very smart.
[00:14:27.490] - Stacey Laviolette
Exactly. Yeah. And then just educating people, like, oh, what's that silver thing in her mouth? I'm like, oh, you mean her jewelry? And she smiles and she shows it, she's like, yeah, I had cavities, but I have Toothy helping me now. Just that little shift, and it brings out confidence.
[00:14:44.560] - Dori Durbin
That sounds like that's what you were getting feedback from from the other parents, too. That confidence, that routines, those things were basically established because of your book. Really?
[00:14:54.540] - Stacey Laviolette
[00:14:55.470] - Dori Durbin
That is incredible.
[00:14:56.200] - Stacey Laviolette
Thank you. I think that's the goal of all authors, really, is to create a meaningful story that reflects your life and how you can make an impact in children's day to day routines. Right, right.
[00:15:08.420] - Dori Durbin
Absolutely. Well, you're empowering them with information and giving them wisdom about what they can do to prevent things or why that life is like that. And I think that's something that you don't want to wait until they're 15 to get that information. Can you imagine?
[00:15:23.500] - Stacey Laviolette
That would be horrible.
[00:15:25.110] - Dori Durbin
Stacey, would you mind reading some of your book for us?
[00:15:28.030] - Stacey Laviolette
Yeah, sure. So my friend susie how to practice Good Dental hygiene. Written by stacy Lavulette and illustrated by Kate Robotova When piper was a tiny tot, her teeth appeared as they should not. She'll see the dentist very soon. We'll take a look. This afternoon, she asked her brother and her mom if they could stay to keep her calm. The dentist looked at piper's teeth and found some spots right underneath. There are some things that we can do to make your teeth as good as new. You'll need to brush them day and night, so please make sure to clean them right. But piper hadn't brushed all week. A tear rolled down her rosy cheeks. She simply didn't have the time. And brushing often slipped her mind. That night, when piper went to bed, her mummy snuggled up and said, you have to keep your teeth all clean. The fronts and backs and in between oh, piper help is on the way. A friend is coming here to say their name is Toothy. When you wake, they'll be right here. Make no mistake. I must be dreaming. piper cried at seeing Toothy by her side. My name is Toothy and I'm your friend.
[00:16:44.850] - Stacey Laviolette
It's time to make old habits end. And throughout the rest of the story, our friend Toothy teaches children to brush, to wash their hands, to floss. And it ends with a visit to the dentist. Well, you have to read the rest of the book to find out what happened.
[00:16:59.930] - Dori Durbin
Yes, leave it as a cliffhanger. We have to get it to find out. So when you were writing this, did you do all the lyrical part of that yourself?
[00:17:09.530] - Stacey Laviolette
How did you okay, so I wrote the book in rhyme, and then I find comb, tooth, it, edit, it find comb, tooth, edit. It worked with twelve different editors. I wanted this to be so perfect. Rhyme and meter. I worked with the best editors, the best rhyme editors, meter editors. And it took a year and a half to create my friend Toothy. Because I have a learning disability. I have dyslexia. It takes me that much longer to do something because I'm so meticulous and perfectionist. I want it to be perfect. So book number two also took me a year to write.
[00:17:53.640] - Dori Durbin
Well, shorter then I'm getting better.
[00:17:56.200] - Stacey Laviolette
Yes, definitely. And working with less, like less cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. I found like three that I love working with. I got my creative consultant. I have my brainstorming, my creative team, and then my two editors. So we're alone in the business as authors. But you definitely have a team, so you're not really alone.
[00:18:18.070] - Dori Durbin
So because of your book, what has changed about what you're doing professionally?
[00:18:24.300] - Stacey Laviolette
Oh, right. That's a great question. I'm still a stay at home mom. I love to do graphic design, website photography. So that's shifted where I'm not doing that as much. And I'm focusing more on marketing and sales and promotions and doing school visits and big market events. We're actually traveling. So I'm in Ottawa, Ontario. We're actually traveling to Calgary for the women's show. So this will be the first time my friend susie is traveling to another province for just spreading awareness about my friend Toothy, getting our name out there. And then we want to get to the state to get ourselves out in the Us market. So just really busy every day working away, marketing, getting our name out there, always posting on social media.
[00:19:15.920] - Dori Durbin
I saw you had a post. It was probably a little while ago, but you had your is it like a blow up toothy?
[00:19:23.100] - Stacey Laviolette
Yeah. Yeah, that was my husband's idea. So he was like, we should have like a mascot when like a mascot, he's like, yeah, like, who's going to wear it? He's like, me. Okay. So I got a design, like a huge cutie, human size. And my husband goes in it and then it blows up like those dinosaur Halloween costumes. It's like that, except much bigger. And the kids love it. It's great. It's like we've been asked to go to events and bring our books and educate families at these awesome events. So yeah, it's pretty awesome.
[00:19:58.050] - Dori Durbin
That's the first time I've ever seen that I thought that was so brilliant. And it's such a cute character. I can imagine the kids being afraid.
[00:20:04.550] - Stacey Laviolette
Of oh, yeah, there's a huge line to take a photo with Toothy. It's like the next elmo, really. Right. My goal is to get on Dragons den, which is like sharp tank in the States. I see it blowing up within the next four to five years. Our goal is to have Netflix shows on Toothy about teaching all dental related issues and troubles. So to get there, there's day to day grind I need to do. But not just need, want. I want to do it. It drives me every day to get up and put the work in.
[00:20:39.710] - Dori Durbin
Do you feel like when you go to those events, you get that many more ideas and that much more driven to spreading what you're trying to spread. Well, let me back up a second. When I go to classrooms and having a dry spell as far as creativity, and then I go to the classroom and all of a sudden there's like all these new ideas that are popping into my head. Does that happen to you at events too?
[00:20:59.600] - Stacey Laviolette
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I love when people are like, oh, have you thought of this? And I'm like, oh, I'm already writing that. But yeah, no, I love doing school visits. I actually do huge school assembly. So, like, kindergarten to grade six, all in the gym, and it's like big pep rally. Really? It's a blast. I love it. Yeah. I always end up getting some sort of idea from the kids. They're hilarious, really. The things they say is adorable.
[00:21:26.430] - Dori Durbin
So here's a question for you. So your photography, end of your business or your previous business, how has that funneled into this? Have you seen where you're using your photography skills in your author journey?
[00:21:39.950] - Stacey Laviolette
Yes, absolutely. Like, all my marketing material, my photography, my graphic design experience, my children are my models. I take photos of them with my product. Other authors send me their books. They're my models for them. So I'm very thankful I have my background in photography, that I can use this. And then same with my illustrations. I sketched out what I wanted and then my illustrator wrote it. Not wrote it. Sorry. My illustrator drew it for me. So having that background, that visual, artistic side of me has definitely helped as well.
[00:22:14.750] - Dori Durbin
I'm sure that saved you a lot of time in a lot of ways.
[00:22:18.010] - Stacey Laviolette
[00:22:20.010] - Dori Durbin
Okay, I know that you have another book coming. It sounds like you've got a third book in your mind. Ultimately, where would you love to see Toothy grow? Beyond even the Netflix?
[00:22:30.510] - Stacey Laviolette
I want Toothy to be like a global name that every child knows who Toothy is, and Toothy is their friend. They're excited to brush and floss. Kind of like the tooth Fairy. Everyone knows who's loved the Tooth Fairy. Like, everyone has different traditions. Some do it, some don't. Some have other letters and stuff. But I want Toothy to be that name to help families all over the world.
[00:22:54.860] - Dori Durbin
That's awesome. Well, I think with your drive, that's very likely to happen, for sure.
[00:23:00.650] - Stacey Laviolette
Thank you. Yeah, that's one of the perks of having a learning disability, is you have to work harder. And if you want to do something, you got to give it your all. And that's kind of carried through since when I was in grade one when I got diagnosed with a learning disability, and I was told you might not graduate high school. And I was told, like, a lot of things with learning disabilities. And you can either go two ways, you can listen to what they're going to say or you can show them wrong. And I've always been more motivated to show someone wrong than follow what they say.
[00:23:33.010] - Dori Durbin
So this is probably an unfair question, but having said all that, have you ever thought about doing a dyslexia series of some kind or a motivational one?
[00:23:44.550] - Stacey Laviolette
So I graduated at college and university, so I used to go back and do presentations for students with learning disabilities and motivate them so I have motivational speaking background. Perhaps maybe that's also an option.
[00:24:00.170] - Dori Durbin
I don't want to split your focus. Kind of thinking in my mind, well, she could do two series. Really?
[00:24:05.840] - Stacey Laviolette
[00:24:06.380] - Dori Durbin
That's the tricky part about being an author, is your brain gets going and you start to see other connections, and then you're in trouble because there's so.
[00:24:12.060] - Stacey Laviolette
Many options you just can't stop. That's the thing. My husband's like, okay, you got your first book out. Now you have, like, eight. When is it done? I'm like, It's never going to be done. It's always something else. I'm like, at least it's not our house projects anymore. He's like, yeah, because we finished it all in a year. It was supposed to take, like, 25 years for us to do all our house renovations literally, like, within a year. This was all before my friend toothy. So he's happy I have another outlet to focus on.
[00:24:43.740] - Dori Durbin
I was afraid you're going to say you're going to add on the room for my friend toothy.
[00:24:47.150] - Stacey Laviolette
Like an additional my studio here. It's my photography studio, but it's changed into my warehouse. Got, like, 2002 fees, boxes, books.
[00:24:58.950] - Dori Durbin
Yeah, totally understandable. Totally understandable. What are two reasons that people who have experienced major events in their lives should share kids books or write kids books for?
[00:25:10.770] - Stacey Laviolette
That? Oh, that's amazing question. Because that's exactly, I think why more than half of us in the authors publish books is because it's a personal experience that holds true to our hearts. It's like our spark under our butt, like, get us going every day to make a difference. So it's that meaningful to you, where it was a very difficult time to get through that one thing right about it. It's not only therapeutic for you, but you can actually be changing people's lives by helping just even one person. You'll be doing, like, helping others, using.
[00:25:45.700] - Dori Durbin
That problem or that situation to convert it into help to somebody else.
[00:25:49.600] - Stacey Laviolette
Yeah. And that in turn, can help you get through that tough time. Like me feeling like a failure as a mom and turning that into, I'm going to help other moms so that they don't have to feel the way I did. That's perfect.
[00:26:02.260] - Dori Durbin
Great answer. Great answer.
[00:26:04.450] - Stacey Laviolette
[00:26:05.810] - Dori Durbin
Well, stacey, thank you so much. But before we go, where can they find your books and information about you?
[00:26:12.930] - Stacey Laviolette
Yeah, so www.myfriendtoothy.com again, it's myfriendtoothy.com and everything's on my website.
[00:26:22.730] - Dori Durbin
Fantastic. Well, thank you for your time today. I can't wait for them to check it out.
[00:26:27.130] - Stacey Laviolette
Thank you. Thanks so much for having me on the show.