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Cool Biz: Meet the Family Who Created The Toothless Monster

The Tooth Fairy has a bit of competition and its the cutest thing you’ll ever see! Meet The Toothless Monster!

The furry friend was created by a Tampa Bay family as an alternative to the traditional Tooth Fairy story, but not eliminating her story all together. Keep reading to learn more about this sweet tradition we think your kids will love!

Learn more about The Toothless Monster

The Dean Family of The Toothless Monster
The Dean Family

Tell us about yourself and your family!

My wife Jennifer and I are lifelong Tampa residents, which seems to be increasingly rare these days. We currently reside in the quiet (but growing) suburb of Valrico. As we are both USF accounting grads, jumping into the toy industry has been a fun, albeit challenging experience. Our daughter Cooper is eight, and our son Brooks just turned six.

What inspired you to create the Toothless Monster?

It was a total accident, really. Taking the advice of everyone that has ever said “cherish them while they’re young,” we took a year off from our jobs to travel with our kids before they were of school age.

While cruising down a dirt road in a Costa Rican jungle, Cooper piped up from the back seat to ask what the Tooth Fairy does with all the teeth? Uhh, great question! An off-the-cuff reply that she uses them to help others led to more questions. What kind of creature? Where? How does she get the teeth there? While answering her endless stream of questions, a story developed that one such creature was a friendly monster that lived in the very jungle we were driving through. This monster had no teeth, of course, and was in need of a little help! Somewhere in there, we had the idea for a toy that children could give “their” teeth to.

The whole tooth-for-cash swap is kind of a half-baked tradition, after all. We knew we’d have to write a story to bring the characters to life, and began working on that as we finished our travels living in a tiny RV as we criss-crossed the US.

We’d love to know more about the Toothless Monster. How does it work?

Each The Toothless Monster boxed set contains a blue (Monte) or purple (Meli) plush monster toy, a hardcover book, and a set of 16 plastic teeth that the “Tooth Fairy” should keep hidden until ready for use.

  1. When a child loses a tooth, they will begin reading The Toothless Monster storybook to learn why not having teeth is a BIG problem for a little monster. Partway through, the book will instruct them to stop reading until they have given a tooth to their monster.
  2. Before going to bed, the child will place their baby tooth in the secret tooth pouch located under the monster’s tongue. Bonus: no more digging around under a pillow trying to find a tiny tooth!
  3. While the child sleeps, the Tooth Fairy (ahem!) will collect the baby tooth and securely snap a plastic tooth into the Monster’s jaw in the same location that the child lost a baby tooth.
  4. Like usual, the Tooth Fairy will also place the “thank you” gift(s) of their choosing next to the child’s bed. We recommend a dollar or two (from the Tooth Fairy) and a piece of fresh fruit (from the Toothless Monster), but feel free to get creative! The fruit is optional, and will make more sense once you begin reading the story. The next day, the child will wake to find not only their gifts, but also that their Monster really gained a tooth! They can then continue reading the book to learn just how excited – and thankful – The Toothless Monster is to have received such a special gift. Repeat the above steps with each lost tooth, eventually solving The Toothless Monster’s problem with a big, toothy grin . . . and the wildest party the jungle has ever seen!

We are most proud of the fact that both the story and overall Toothless Monster experience teach children a subtle lesson about empathy, kindness, and helping others. It is never too early to begin instilling those values in them, and they get to be the hero of the story for doing it!

What has the journey been like for you and your family as you’ve created this book and monster?

Like any new business (especially one bringing a new product to market) we’ve had highs and lows. Sourcing a quality manufacturing partner proved to be one of the more challenging tasks, and took much longer than we expected.

Now that The Toothless Monster is in production and being delivered daily to homes all across the US, it is so awesome to see how well they are being received. Having glowing reviews come in from those that have either bought or been gifted a Toothless Monster makes all the lows not seem so low.

People genuinely love The Toothless Monster! On that note, a huge thanks goes out to all those that have purchased a Monster and/or shared our story within their circle. We’re not yet a “must have” item like that sneaky Christmas Elf, but we’re working hard to get there! A huge thanks also goes out to Jennifer, who has worked to keep our family afloat while we pursued this crazy idea.

What advice do you have for others out there who have an idea for a business?

Get involved in whatever industry you plan on joining and network like crazy. You’ll find that there are many good people that have been in your shoes and genuinely want to help – their perspective and advice is invaluable. You also have to actually go for it at some point, which is understandably the hardest thing for many to do.

A favorite quote that lives on our fridge door is from tech exec and author Randy Komisar, who wrote, “And then there is the most dangerous risk of all — the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”

What are some of your favorite things to do as a family in Tampa Bay?

We are at home anywhere outdoors and enjoy camping with friends and family. We are also beach people and frequently make the trek across the Bay to Treasure Island. Santa Claus brought the kids (us too, who would have thought?) Busch Gardens passes this year, so we’ve been enjoying the park together before the summer heat arrives.

Finally, we try to check out the ever-increasing number of festivals, markets, and other outdoor events in the area. All in all, Tampa is a great place to live!

COVID has made a huge impact on many small businesses. How has it impacted you?

As far as COVID effects, we did see a major dip in online sales through our website and Amazon. Fortunately, that has since rebounded, which I think is in line with things beginning to normalize.

Our main concern has been for our retail partners (brick and mortar toy stores and pediatric dental practices). They have been hit much harder with the mandated closures, and we look forward to a quick return to business as usual for them. For now, we continue shipping Toothless Monsters to wiggly-toothed children all over the US.

Seeing their pictures on social media and getting awesome feedback from their parents gives us plenty of reason to smile during these crazy times!

Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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