How Bite Founder Lindsay McCormick Went From Hobby to Brand to Smart Rebrand

Illustration by Grey Thornberry.

The female founder and former ski instructor started with toothpaste and is now scaling sustainability while expanding into other personal care products.

Lindsay McCormick hadn’t intended to start a business. The former surf- and ski-instructor had been working on documentaries and traveling frequently to shoot when she realized some of the components of her travel routine–down to the toothpaste tubes she packed–didn’t fit with her low-waste, vegan lifestyle. She learned that the equivalent mass of 50 Empire State Buildings’ worth of toothpaste tubes end up in landfills every year.

She started researching and tinkering with formulas to try to create a sustainable, healthy toothpaste that didn’t require a tube that would end up in a landfill. “I figured it would just be for like me and my friends,” McCormick told Inc.’s What I Know podcast. “So I wanted to make sure I was really using the best ingredients, the most effective ingredients.”

She started with a powder formula, which she quickly deemed too messy. Online research pointed her to tablet-makers, which could compress powder. Once she purchased one, for more than $1,000, she figured she’d have to sell her product to break even. Instead, her Bite Toothpaste Bits, minty Tic Tac-sized toothpaste pods sold in apothecary glass jars, took off online.

McCormick scaled the business out of her living room, hiring remote employees, creating a sustainable-ingredient supply chain, and developing a tight-knit, eco-conscious company culture. Within years, Bite branched out into other oral care, including mouthwash bits, a teeth-whitening kit, and dental floss, all in plastic-free, zero-waste packaging.

Then, a revelation she had while on a run near her home in Los Angeles changed everything. She’d personally been using plastic-free, aluminum-free deodorant for a long time. She was annoyed at the product packaging, though. A glass jar meant digging in and then having to scrub her fingernails after. A cardboard tube meant bacteria build-up. “I was thinking: Somebody really needs to fix this. This could be done in a more thoughtful way,” she said. “And then I was like, wait a minute: I have a company that does this.

But her company was called Bite. Not exactly a good fit for a deodorant brand. “It was great for oral care, but not so great for armpits!” McCormick jokes. It wasn’t long before she thought of a rebrand, one that wouldn’t require any actual rebranding. Because It’s The Earth, an acronym for BITE, came to her. “As soon as that came to me, I was like, whoa, that’s it,” she said. “Everything we do is because it’s the earth!”

To hear Lindsay McCormick’s full story, and her company’s environmental mission, click on the player above, or find What I Know on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to audio.