So, where did Beardsmith come from? Why did a busy father of 2 and full time nurse decide it was a good idea to start up his first ever business? And do you care where Beardsmith came from??!! Of course you do!! That's why your going to read my long, rambling and self indulgent origins story!!
Well, it all began when my 2nd son, Ben, was born. I went a few weeks without shaving (sheer laziness!) and for the first time ever thought 'hmmm, maybe I CAN grow beard?' I'd always fancied I'd look good with a beard, even though I'd never thought I could grow one - I have patchy, sparse and slow beard growth. I googled how to grow a beard (because clearly nobody does anything without first googling it!) and was inspired by Keanu Reeves!!
It kind of went from there - I've now been bearded for almost 3 years!
This led to me looking for proper soaps and products to look after a dry and itchy beard. I quickly realised I couldn't buy anything locally, and ordering stuff online from the UK etc was expensive and not of particularly great quality. And anyway, who knows anything about beard soaps? What is a beard oil for???? And why, at the age of 35 am I finally becoming vain and worrying about brushing my beard and what kinds of products will keep it soft and luxurious??!! Clearly it was either go full on mid life crisis, or turn it into something of value and start a business!
So with a lack of options I start wondering can I make my own products??
Experimenting begins in the shed.....in Ireland.....in winter.....lovely! It's cold and it's miserable - but on the positive side of things the cold and rain is probably all that stops the shed from burning down and/or exploding!
It was a slow process and there was a lot of hit and miss - I honestly don't know how my own beard survived all the human trials! The oil and balm/wax experimenting wasn't too dangerous - but the soap making was a pretty fraught process at times! I had soap volcanoes, alien brain (google it!) overflowing moulds and just plain failed batches (oh, and one batch I couldn't even cut with a saw!!). But slowly, slowly, I began to master my craft and develop soaps which were safe for use. Not only that I was beginning to develop the recipe's that I use now. The perfect beard soaps were within my grasp!
My friends, family and work colleagues had the cleanest and softest beards you have ever seen from all the free samples. I was becoming very popular - and heavens be praised; nobodies beard fell out! Or even turned green.......nope, definitely; there were definitely no green beards.......honest.........it was nothing to do with my products! I swear! (Note too self; grey hairs in a beard are cool and should NEVER be dyed....and definitely not dyed green!)
(I'm still pretty proud of this image....it was the first time I could sit back and see that my ideas were beginning to turn into something real!)
So, step 2 in my bid for world beard domination - would anybody buy the stuff! And what would they think of the products if they did? First up, design!! I rallied together all my artistic friends and we set about designing a basic starting point for Beardsmith. This meant also figuring out how to wrap and package the products at home!
A quick glimpse at the process and how we developed the first ever Beardsmith logo! Based on the idea of a blacksmith and the strong masculine side of it.
Next, I borrowed a table and gazebo and I joined my local farmers market! Fresh bread, crepes, carvings, veggies and beard soap!! Oh, and wind and rain and more wind!
Things were steady here, but best of all the reviews were brilliant! If I got a customer, I kept a customer! The products just worked. I really learnt my trade here. Working out what people liked, what worked and how to sell products to people! It wasn't often very busy (and i've already mentioned the weather!) but slowly, slowly the idea began to appear to be a good one!
I spent a number of months doing this and slowly improving the brand, products and packaging. The word began to get out and I became the beard guy! I was featured on the radio and really started to make a bit of a name for myself.
It quickly became obvious that I needed to move to the next stage of the Beardsmith development.
Online was where the action was! My basic online store was doing well and I was also raising brand awareness on various Facebook beard groups and other beard related blogs online. It was time to start looking seriously at making Beardsmith a proper business with professional image and brand, a slick website and online presence and I had also started having interest from people regarding stocking the products in shops! Happy days! But, of course, all this meant hard, hard work! Late nights making products, early mornings wrapping products and weekends spent meeting people and generally talking Beardsmith......as well as my full time nursing job. I realised that as good as the farmers market had been for me it was time to say goodbye; within a few quick months Beardsmith had actually outgrown the farmers market!
A massive few months passed again. Beardsmith became a proper registered (and taxed! boooo!!) business my new branding landed, a new website was in the works, and I now had a number of Beardsmith stockists! My production techniques had had to improve and become more efficient - I am still to this day hand producing and packaging everything myself at home, but i've become cleverer and more efficient with my processes!
(The beginning of the new Beardsmith branding)
(Launching the new Beardsmith branding! Making Beards Better!)
(Setting up local stockists)
(It's a great sight seeing Beardsmith for sale in regular shops!)
The long awaited www.beardsmith.ie is launched! I had built it myself and it is another of my extremely proud creations! From a basic online store Beardsmith now has a proper website; integrated to social media, beautiful, modern and with its own blog - Beardsmith is continuing to grow! In fact Beardsmith is starting to embrace men's grooming more generally. Body soaps, shampoos and hair waxes are the first non beard specific items and are making Beardsmith more available and applicable to even more men!
Like i've mentioned it's been a whirlwind couple of years. I've never worked harder, but i've never felt so rewarded! To build something from nothing and see it grow! To make a product with my own 2 hands and see people enjoying it and finding it make difference to them is just an amazing feeling!
I really hope that I can continue to grow this amazing product range as a labour of love, and even more importantly I hope it can continue to be so popular!
So far 2017 has been a huge year for me and Beardsmith, and the signs are that its going to continue! theres plenty more to come. I'm continuing to improve the packaging and will hopefully soon be launching my brand new Beardsmith Boxes. The website will continue to grow, and, I have plenty more planned for this blog!
I truly look forwards to sharing this journey with you all. As i've mentioned previously i'm not a naturally gifted writer, but i'm trying to make this blog interesting and honest - so if you like what you see then why not subscribe to the Beardsmith mailing list, and share it with your friends too! Thanks for reading.