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Our business would not exist without our six-year-old

By Kate Cashman 3 min read
Thursday, September 03, 2020

Spencer is seven now, but he was only six when he came up with the idea for our family business.

It was over dinner one evening when we were having a discussion about the importance of reducing our plastic waste—little did we know that that conversation would have us embarking on a brand new world of product design, subscription services and learning everything we could possibly learn about toothbrushes!

Passionate as we are about the environment, we’d been slowly taking steps as a family to live more sustainably. We were chatting that evening about all the plastic items we use every day that could be replaced with an eco-friendly alternative. As we worked through the list, Spencer informed us that although he loved helping to get rid of plastic, he wished some of our plastic-free items didn’t get so "yucky" like our wooden toothbrushes.

Kids have all kinds of crazy ideas—and I’m sure if we asked Spencer straight up what kind of business we should open, he’d tell us we should make flying cars or cakes that gave you magical powers. But sometimes kids speak the truth so eloquently and so simply you just have to listen. 

Six-year old Spencer’s innocent little comment about his toothbrush getting yucky really hit home for us. For those who aren’t familiar with bamboo toothbrushes, when you have a family of four and all four toothbrushes are left a bit wet and crammed together in a toothbrush holder, the handles can start to go black and gunky—you really need to dry them properly every brush to stop this from happening. For my husband Ben and I, we just accepted it as the price you pay for going green. But little Spence, bless him, thought there should be a better way.

We realised he was onto something and looked into ways we could help that little spark of an idea come to fruition. It led us down the rabbit hole of toothbrush design, so we could create one that had a flat base, allowing it to stand on its own and stay clean and dry longer. No more yucky toothbrushes for Spence!

Spencer Cashman_Tinkle Co

Spencer and the toothbrush that originated from his "yucky" comment.

Kid-friendly business

Of course as a six- (now seven-) year-old, there’s only a certain amount Spencer can do in the business. Learning to read and write and clean up his room will always take priority! But because the idea for Tinkle did start with Spencer, both he and his sister Poppy have been really involved in building the brand; from choosing the materials, colours, packaging and even the name.

And both children have been really excited to be part of it—it’s been such a great family project and has really brought us closer together. Plus, they’ve learnt invaluable, tangible business lessons that will stay with them for life, like watching us find suppliers and helping us test designs.

Getting the kids involved in the decision making for Tinkle has honestly made this business so much fun! For any mums who have businesses, I can’t recommend highly enough to get your kids involved. Kids have a really unique perspective that can genuinely add a lot of value, and they love to feel like they’re a part of something important.

Kate Cashman and family

Kate Cashman with husband Ben, daughter Poppy, and son Spencer.

Between the school runs and sports lessons and juggling your work and home life, it’s easy to forget we’re doing the very important job of raising the next generation of leaders. And the reality is, for our children, one of the biggest challenges they’re going to face in their future is climate change. For that reason, we’ve been teaching our kids about sustainability and raising them to understand that the little things they do can make a huge impact.

When Spencer made that comment about his toothbrush, we could have easily brushed it off. But we wanted him to know that his ideas are important, and that a tiny seed of an idea can grow into something huge with some hard work and a lot of patience. Now, Spencer gets to go to school each day with the knowledge that thanks to him, we’re doing what we can to help reduce the 30 million plastic toothbrushes that end up in landfill in Australia each year. That’s an awesome feat for a seven-year-old! And that’s why we helped bring his business idea to life.


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As well as a PhD in law and business degree in human resource management, Kate Cashman has qualifications in life coaching and neuro-linguistic programming. She lives in the Tasmanian bush with her husband and two children.