5 Minutes With Dr. Vanessa + Dr. Lisa Creaven, Founders Of Spotlight Whitening

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When two dentists launch a teeth whitening range to use at home, it’s time to listen up. The Irish sisters, Dr. Vanessa and Dr. Lisa Creaven, created Spotlight Whitening in 2016 and it’s now stocked in all Boots stores. It all started with Whitening Strips inspired by their patients’ needs and now there’s a full range…  

Did you always want to be dentists?

Lisa definitely started the trend and I (Vanessa) followed suit! We both qualified as dentists from Trinity College Dublin. We both then went on to complete a number of post graduate courses in Cosmetic Dentistry and Orthodontics, in both Ireland and the UK. Dentistry allows you to build a close relationship with your patients, which is something we love! Our other sister and brother are also dentists so it definitely runs in the family!

Tell us about your at- home whitening range?

It frustrated us to see our patients struggle to find a teeth whitening product that worked, was safe and affordable. We could not see anything on the market that catered for these needs and that we could stand by. That’s why we created Spotlight Whitening - a safe and effective system that you can use in the comfort of your own home. All of our products contain the active whitening ingredient, hydrogen peroxide, which is clinically proven to whiten teeth.

We started off just with our original teeth whitening kit and from here we have developed a full product range including Men’s Teeth White Strips, Spotlight Teeth Whitening Toothpaste, a Teeth Whitening Pen, and our latest product, a whitening mouth wash (available at spotlightwhitening.com). We are consistently working on new product development, we want Spotlight to be more then just a teeth whitening range, but instead a full oral care solution system. Perhaps that’s a hint…

Can you use the range if you have sensitive teeth?

Absolutely! We have seen patients who have extreme sensitivity and damaged enamel as a result of some extreme whitening treatments. With this in mind, we created Spotlight to ensure that whitening is achievable and safe when formulated correctly, without experiencing sensitivity.

Is work-life balance important to you?

We love the work we do, that’s what motivates us to keep going! It can be tough balancing everything but it’s totally worth it. We still work in the practice and are very busy here, so it has been – and still is – a big juggling act to manage both. The juggling aspect is something you have to work on. Especially with a new business, sacrifices have to be made, but family always does come first.

It can be tough balancing everything but once you find your feet and a routine is in place then some organisation is restored. We’re really lucky that we’re sisters, because it means we can call over to each other’s houses in the evening and we can go over a couple of things! We don’t have to have stick to a strict nine-to-five schedule – if we did, the business definitely wouldn’t work for us. It just means we’re super-busy at the moment, but we’re loving it.

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Instant relaxation tip?

Vanessa: I love listening to music, I find it very therapeutic.  

Lisa: For me, nothing is more relaxing than taking a long warm bath – when I can. If all else fails, we may resort to some retail therapy, which is a guaranteed distraction!

Who inspires you?

All Irish women! There are so many positive Irish role models and we are really holding our own as entrepreneurs and women in business, which is great to see. This industry is hard. I suppose one that sticks out is the queen of tan, Marissa Carter! She’s building an empire, a busy mum and she’s vocal about her struggles. Maria Hatzistefanis (Mrs Rodial) is another great role model for women in business. In terms of online innovation, you can’t help but admire Huda Beauty, who has built an empire really through social media.

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Can’t live without…

Lisa: Heels! Vanessa is 5ft 9 and insists on wearing them, so I need to try and catch up!

Vanessa: I hold my wedding shoes very dear to me and try to wear them on special occasions, they always make me feel good.

Most stylish city?

We travel a lot for work but one of our all time favourites is Oslo, Norway. It is often considered pricey, but it is definitely worth it. We love everything about the area, from fashion, the people and especially their chic restaurants. 

Your perfect weekend includes…

We are both massively family orientated and no weekend would be complete without a family gathering at our parents’ house for Sunday brunch.

Beauty must-have...

Vanessa: Lip balm. Sounds cliché but chapped lips and bright white teeth is never a good look!

Lisa: Mascara. I have three small kids so anything that makes my eyes look a little bit more open is a must.

Your proudest moment?

Definitely getting our product to market, which incorporates hydrogen peroxide, was a huge challenge. We wanted to add peroxide into our product because it is the most effective ingredient for whitening teeth, but with this comes challenges in itself. We spent over a year developing the correct formula before going to manufacturing.

Fine-tuning the process to make sure we got what we wanted in a product was tedious, but we knew if we were to revolutionise the market, we couldn’t take any chances! Also being dentists, we were conscious that our product is as safe as it is effective, containing a clinically proven ingredient! So, to finally see our products on the shelves was worth all the hard work – we couldn’t be prouder.

Dream holiday destination?

The Maldives.

A tip for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Be prepared to make sacrifices, always work hard for what you believe in and trust your gut. I’m just glad we decided to get stuck in because if you don’t, you will end up psyching yourself out of it.