We asked five grooming entrepreneurs how they built their brands

The world of shampoos and serums can be a slippery place to gain a foothold, so we asked our favourite brand founders for their advice…

Few things work would-be entrepreneurs into a lather like creating their first company. The sheer number of deliberations and considerations that shower down on budding businessmen can be incredibly confusing, and often put pay to start-ups before they even begin. And that means everything they’ve already developed — be that brand name, logo or first prototype products — is washed down the drain.

And that goes double for grooming entrepreneurs. The world of shampoos, salves and serums can be a seriously slippery place to gain a foothold, so it pays to read some cautionary tales before you dip your well-pedicured toes into these waters. Here, we’ve assembled a cabinet of bathroom trailblazers to find out; five exfoliators, latherers, and scrubbers with stories and top tips for brand-building…

Patrick Kidd, Founder of PATRICKS

Founded with passion by Patrick Kidd, this eponymous grooming label has revolutionised bathroom branding — bringing slick shapes and no-nonsense acronyms into the overly flowery, fragrant world of cosmetics and cleansing. Started up on Australia’s southeastern coast, it now has a global presence.

What moment inspired you to start-up a grooming brand?, In 2008, in our award-winning Bondi barber shop, I tossed aside yet another hair product and said: “We can do better”. So, with an uncompromising commitment to scientific innovation, I spent seven years working with the best cosmeceutical labs in the world, testing the formulas on thousands of my salon customers until they were nothing short of perfect.

What was the biggest challenge in creating PATRICKS?, Our original shampoo/conditioner packaging was absolute rubbish. We designed it jet-lagged and got so caught up in the design process that we forgot about the functionality. It was years ago, but the CD2 taught us that design has to be functional, not just fancy. That’s why our worst-selling, most-complained-about product was, in a way, our best one. We’ll never make those mistakes again.

“I spent seven years working with the best cosmeceutical labs in the world…"

What do you consider your ‘hero’ product?, In 2021, we won Esquire’s award for the’Best Thickening Shampoo’ with SH1. I immediately said I wanted to create another shampoo; the best possible, and that cost wasn’t a problem. The chemist called us crazy, but I said to do it. A shampoo with ingredients and actives that other brands haven’t even heard of. And SH+ and CD+ are, unquestionably, the best shampoo and conditioner we’ve ever seen. If you don’t want to spend $95 on a shampoo or conditioner, I don’t blame you. But if you want a glimpse into the future, here it is.

What advice would you give to any budding entrepreneurs?, Don’t do it! In all seriousness, don’t actually do it unless you like sleep deprivation, jet lag, stress, anxiety, fighting with factories and begging buyers to give you five minutes of their time. If none of that deters you — and you love pushing the limits, travelling the world, meeting the coolest people, creating beautiful functional products and helping people look and feel better about themselves — then go for it.

James Dashwood Chase, founder of BAZ & CO Skincare 

BAZ & CO is a reasonably new kid on the bathroom block. Founded by James Dashwood Chase, who grew up on a humble farm in Herefordshire and is part of the family that created Tyrrells crisps and Chase Vodka, it’s a bright green evocation of his lifelong obsession with nature and sustainability.

What moment inspired you to start up a grooming brand?, After a decade in the alcohol industry, my skin and overall well-being took a hit, and I needed to take more care of myself. While developing a new gin, I discovered the power of Vertical Farms, using 95% less water than conventional farming methods and zero herbicides or pesticides. Partnering with these farms here in the UK, they would go on to supply critical ingredients, including Basil, for a new, simple three-step routine designed exclusively for men.

What was the biggest challenge in creating BAZ & CO?, Getting taken seriously. No matter what you’ve got up to, being new to an industry will always bring with it scepticism and questions. Our five-star reviews have helped cement customer accreditation, and listings in prestigious accounts such as Fortnum & Mason and Jon Bell & Croyden help reinforce that what you are doing is quality and much needed.

“After a decade in the alcohol industry, my skin and overall well-being took a hit…”

What do you consider your ‘hero’ product?, It would be our Skin Food Moisturiser, designed to feed your face with everything it needs and nothing it doesn’t. A simple skincare routine has proven to impact well-being significantly and subconsciously will push you to eat better and exercise. This all-natural moisturiser is light, not too greasy and feeds your face much-needed vitamins and nutrients; from farm to face.

What advice would you give to any budding entrepreneurs?, Do what you love and find a niche; if you love what you do, others will buy into that. Passion is incredibly infectious.

Gregor Jaspers, founder of The Grey Men’s Skincare

Since 2018, The Grey — and the well-grooming man behind the brand, Gregor Jaspers — has been leading a quiet grooming revolution. A one-time buyer for a department store, Jaspers’ invaluable insight into the customer-facing facets of companies has helped him build an ergonomic, engaging brand.

What moment inspired you to start-up a grooming brand?, I was in Florence for Pitti Uomo, sitting in my hotel room. My eye was caught by my over-cluttered toiletry bag — filled with women’s brands. I thought, there were no men’s brand on the market with the same quality and diversity of product. Men’s ranges did exist, but they did not meet my expectations. So, in that hotel room, The Grey was born.

What was the biggest challenge in creating The Grey?, In the beginning, there were many challenges. Not being from the industry, everything was new to me — and I had no clue how to produce. Finding the right companies to work with for development and production was a challenge. Also, as a startup, you have to deal with ‘Minimum Order Quantity’ (MOQ), which are way too high most of the time. So convincing producers and suppliers to work on lower MOQ was my second challenge.

“Men’s ranges did exist, but they did not meet my expectations…”

What do you consider your ‘hero’ product?, We have our ‘3 in 1 Face Cream’. It is an amazing active face cream for the day, night and for the eyes making it easy to use — but still very result-driven. This is exactly what The Grey stands for, and I think that’s why it’s our hero product.

What advice would you give to any budding entrepreneurs?, Don’t look for people who give you advice — look for people you can ask for advice. Because advice and opinions are two very different things. So find a handful of selected advisers you can talk to about financials, creative and commercial considerations. But, most of all, enjoy the start-up phase. Once your company grows, you will remember the days everything was small, new and exciting!

Harry Aaronson, founder of Heath London

In 2018, Aaronson committed himself to bringing a well-designed, reasonably priced idea to life by creating a fresh, contemporary British brand; one that would appreciate tradition — but would not be defined by age. Developed by experts and formulated specifically for men, Heath has been on the up ever since.

What moment inspired you to start-up a grooming brand?, One Sunday, after a game of squash with my dad, conversation turned to our post-workout skincare routines. We quickly concluded that there was a lack of simple, well-designed grooming products that protect men from the city environment; products that make you look good, but also feel good.

We realised that no brand occupied the territory of skincare as a wellness moment. So, we became committed to creating a fresh, contemporary British brand that gives you the opportunity to build your daily skincare routine around switching-off, rebalancing and taking a moment for yourself.

What was the biggest challenge in creating Heath?, The biggest challenge we faced was how to build a brand that maintained a high touch and intimate relationship with our customers. In today’s world, where there are so many ways to reach the consumer, we had to find a way to get across what we are doing at Heath and show what we are offering is truly unique.

“We had to find a way to show what we are offering is truly unique…”

What do you consider your ‘hero’ product?, The Eye Serum is my vice! The skin underneath and around the eye is incredibly thin. Silk Tree Extract defends against dark circles and helps strengthen the skin. It also helps reduce any puffiness. I like to keep an Eye Serum in the office and use throughout the day.

What advice would you give to any budding entrepreneurs?, Don’t start with too many products as you’ll find that it could be a distraction. Be very focused on which sales channels you want to concentrate on. When starting focus on the customers you want to serve rather than the brand you want to create.

Piers Le Moignan, founder of Salt Grooming

Led by Le Moignan, and made up of a tight-knit team that includes some of the UK’s leading cosmetic scientists, this bijou British haircare-and-styling brand has made waves in the grooming game for its tightly edited range of bare essentials, cutting through the endless releases that hit the market on a daily basis.

What moment inspired you to start-up a grooming brand?, Since I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with cosmetics. In my early 20s, I started to get frustrated by the lack of choice compared to the women’s category and felt like I was always searching for that one elusive ‘perfect product’. Eventually, I decided to take matters into my own hands and just make it myself.

What was the biggest challenge in creating Salt Grooming?, Making our first product. I set the bar really high, and wanted to make the best men’s haircare and styling products in the world. As it turns out, that takes a lot of time and a lot of money. Our first product alone took two years to develop and launch, and almost bankrupted us. It was worth it though; nothing worth having comes easy.

“I was always searching for that one elusive ‘perfect product’…”

What do you consider your ‘hero’ product?, Hybrid Hair — our first product — without a doubt. It single-handedly established the brand. For over a year after Salt launched, it was the only product we sold. It’s won multiple awards and the customer return rate is staggering.

What advice would you give to any budding entrepreneurs?, Fall in love with the process, embrace the journey, and be patient. You’ll go through stages where it feels impossible (I still get these all the time), but there is magic in the struggle. Embrace the tough times, see them as an opportunity to grow and the good times will be that much sweeter. Oh, and always trust your gut.

Want more expert advice? Here’s how to retire at 30, according to the entrepreneurs who made it happen…

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