Is activated charcoal the secret to perfect skin and teeth? Sisters Amra and Azra Hajdarevic say yes. Veterans of the beauty industry, Amra and Azra started Terra&Co after being disappointed with the synthetic ingredients used in conventional toothpaste. T&Co.'s toothpaste is cruelty free and vegan with a twist: activated charcoal. In this interview, we talked to Azra about owning a business, the beauty benefits of charcoal, and why we fear the dentist.
Both of you immigrated to the U.S. after the Bosnian war and now are successful entrepreneurs. Over 40% of companies were created by immigrants or children of immigrants— why do you think immigrants drive so much innovation?
Immigrants and children of immigrants who come here also come from places of hardship and not being able to live up to their full potentials in countries they come from. Coming to USA gives immigrants an opportunity for education, jobs and most of all: be a valuable part of the community. I do believe that immigrants who work hard and who drive innovations are driven in paying forward to the country and communities that gave them the opportunity for better life.
What were you doing before T&Co.?
We both work in beauty industry for over a decade. Amra was in a business of skincare and I am a freelance makeup artist in NYC. I still work in fashion and beauty industry but Terra&Co is taking the majority of my time.
What’s different about Terra&Co toothpaste?
Brilliant Black Toothpaste is natural teeth whitening toothpaste alternative to products for teeth whitening with chemicals. Terra&Co's activated charcoal toothpaste contains simple ingredients like coconut oil, baking soda, activated charcoal and essential oils. All of these ingredients are beneficial to your oral hygiene without the use of fillers, soaps, artificial flavors or fluoride. Texture and feeling after you brush your teeth with Brilliant Black Toothpaste is gentle but very powerful at the same time.
What was the first charcoal product you tried? What was your first impression?
A few years ago while traveling I had food poisoning that was treated simply with activated charcoal. I was amazed how charcoal absorbed and flushed out toxins out of my digestive system and how quickly I was able to recover. That lead to more research on different uses of activated charcoal.
What's it like working with your sister? What role does each sister play in the company?
Working with a sister is a pretty amazing experience. We are best friends but also have different strength in creating one functional business. Amra is more business oriented and have everything under control while I am more on the creative side of the business. Terra&Co is a great way for us to travel and spend more time together since Amra lives in California and I am in NYC.
Is everyone in your family entrepreneurial?
I would say they are more of team players and hard working people. Especially our parents. They have always been a positive influence on our working ethics. Dad uses to set up all clocks and alarms to an early time so we were never late to school or work. Every time I think of my mom and how hard she works and contributes to the family, and always with a smile I think if I do half as much she does on daily bases I would be the most productive person ever.
Do you like going to the dentist?
It's never been one of the most exciting things to do but I do have a great dentist I trust and been going to him for years, it makes all the difference feeling comfortable with the dentist. He also uses Brilliant Black Toothpaste and jokes how his wife was terrified when she saw their bathroom sink for the first time he used black toothpaste.
What advice do you have for women looking to start a business?
Once you have an idea and truly believe that it would make a positive impact on you and people around you- act on it! Focus on where you want to be not on the fear of what can go wrong!
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