Adam Hewison at his home on Dingley Island. His latest endeavor, in a life full of them, is a line of oral care products designed to help in the fight against cancer. (DOUG WARREN PHOTO)
Adam Hewison wants you to believe.
To believe in the power of prayer and a positive attitude. To believe that better days are yet to come. To believe that a cancer diagnosis was the best thing that ever happened to him. And to believe that brushing your teeth can help contribute to the fight against that dreaded disease.
It’s a lot to take in, but Adam Hewison is a remarkable man on a remarkable mission and his positive energy is almost inescapable when you’re in his presence.
“The Lord has blessed me with ideas,” Hewison, a self-described dyslexic, admits during an afternoon visit at his home on Dingley Island. Indeed. Projects pop out of his head like sparks from a Van de Graaff generator. He was there at the start of Vidal Sassoon’s rise to fame. He became a widely published author and expert on commodity trading and foreign exchange rates. He developed a self-aerating wine bottle.
But his latest crusade, a Maine nonprofit —Just-Believe.org — has his full focus these days. Hewison, 76, and his team have developed a line of all-natural oral care products with 100% of the profits going to organizations that support people dealing with cancer. “We named our toothpaste and mouthwash ‘believe’ because, on a cancer journey, it’s incredibly important to believe that you are going to get well,” he explains.
Hewison is very familiar with that journey.
In February 2017, he was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer that had metastasized to his bones. Not long after that, he and his wife, Sally Rich, were celebrating their 28th wedding anniversary on the island of Maui in Hawaii. At a sunset celebration one evening, he noticed all the smiling faces of those in attendance and he had another idea: Create a product that people use every day and have the profits go to fighting cancer instead of padding corporate bottom lines.
Why not toothpaste?
Hewison’s search for healthy, American-made oral care products led him to Dr. Sayed Ibrahim, who founded Health and Natural Beauty USA Corp. in New Jersey. Ibrahim has developed all-natural mouthwashes and toothpastes that include a patented formula for black seed oil and zinc, one of the ingredients in “believe” products. Ibrahim’s oral care line is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and endorsed by the American Dental Association.
(The “believe” toothpastes come in mint and vanilla flavors. As a lifelong Colgate user, this reporter is a fan of the vanilla formula, which is branded for children. The flavor is agreeable, and there is less foam and a bit more grit than regular Colgate. All “believe” products are fluoride-free and sell online for $9.89, with $5 going to charity.)
With the help of his founding team members, Pam Hurley Moser and Reed Allen, Hewison has the “believe” website up for information and online purchases, and products for sale at Morning Glory in Brunswick. They are also behind the roadside signs you may have noticed promoting “brushawaycancer.com” as “Imagined in Maine.” He hopes to have “believe” in Hannaford stores before long.
Most importantly, Hewison is partnering with the American Cancer Society, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and the Maine Cancer Foundation to funnel all profits to caring for cancer patients.
“It’s a unique approach and we’re very excited to see what Mr. Hewison will be able to do with this most worthy cause,” said Ray Ruby, development director of the Maine Cancer Foundation. “We hope it’s very successful!”
Already quite successful is Hewison’s apparent recovery from his cancer diagnosis. Today, he believes he is cancer-free. He attributes that to his faith in God and a holistic regimen that includes regular exercise, changes in his diet and other nontraditional treatments.
“The key is to believe in yourself,” he says. “Someone said, ‘What the mind can believe, the body can achieve.’ Believe that you will get better and never, never give up, as the best is yet to come.”
This remarkable development in Hewison’s journey is just the latest in a life full of them. Born John Anthony Hewison in Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England, he didn’t test well enough to pursue higher education in the Great Britain of the 1950s, so he decided on a career in hairdressing. Walking into Vidal Sassoon’s first salon in London in the early 1960s, he encountered the style icon behind the reception desk. Sassoon hired him on the spot but insisted that he change his name to Adam. So, he did.
After a four-year apprenticeship, Sassoon asked Hewison if he would be up for helping open Sassoon’s first salon in New York City. Of course, he was. It was the height of the British Invasion launched by the Beatles and, Hewison recalls, customers would come in and beg: “Please say something in British!”
A customer ultimately lured Hewison away to run the salon at the Princess Hotel in Bermuda. When his then-wife went to Chicago to train as a stewardess, he followed and happened to visit the Board of Trade. Fascinated to see people selling commodities like wheat and pork, he became a broker and launched a new career as a trader, analyst and author.
He was one of the first currency futures traders when the International Monetary Market introduced that type of financial instrument in the 1970s. He was a charter member of the International Monetary Market, the New York Futures Exchange and the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange.
While trading on the floor, Hewison was selected to manage the risk exposure of a hedge fund for a private family fortune in Geneva. After returning to the U.S., he formed The Rich Financial Group Inc., a commodity trading advisory firm with offices in Maryland. He also founded Ino.com in 1993, a website that pioneered the delivery of financial information on the web.
Along the way, through a mutual friend who was married to his ex-wife’s cousin in Bermuda, he fell in love with and ultimately married Sally Rich, the daughter of the late Adm. Harry Rich, who lived on Dingley Island for many years. They spent parts of many summers at the admiral’s house and ultimately built their home next door, where they have lived year-round for nearly four years.
It’s been quite a journey. And Hewison is most excited about this latest stop on the way.
“I think cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me,” he says. “I know it’s not the usual belief, but it is how I feel. I’m happier now than I have ever been. It helps, of course, if you’re married to a wonderful woman like I am. So, life is good and, remember, it’s all about attitude.”
For more information and to purchase products or donate, go to just-believe.org.
Doug Warren, of Orr’s Island, retired from a career as an editor at the Portland Press Herald, Miami Herald and Boston Globe. He serves as vice president of the Harpswell News Board of Directors.