Eric Bandholz quit a lucrative job in banking to be able to grow a beard – that’s when he realised his passion and built a community of ‘Beardsmen’ – a bunch of like minded folks who maintain long beards. He started out interacting with this community through his blogs and YouTube videos, now having expanded to offering Beard care products through his company, Beardbrand. From getting rejected on Shark Tank to having done 7 figures in sales, let’s learn how Eric did it.
What lead to starting Beardbrand?
I use to work as a financial advisor for a big bank. There were implied rules for what to wear and how to groom yourself. Subsequently, while working there I never felt like I could truly represent myself.
So I quit my job as a financial advisor and started growing out my beard. During my growth stage, I got called Duck Dynasty, ZZ Top, and Grizzly Adams. Those are all cool dudes with beards, but I didn’t really connect with that image.
It wasn’t until I attended a beard-related event that I realized there were other guys out there like me; a group of guys who we called “urban beardsman.” It was after this event that I created Beardbrand as a way to unite urban beardsmen and give them the tools and confidence they needed to rock the style they wanted.
Beardbrand started off with education and content and eventually moved into products about a year later.
How much does Beardbrand do in sales?
As of today, we’re doing upper 7 figures annually. When we started off, we did about $1000 that month and ended that year with $400,000 in sales.
How did you approach marketing & how did you manage to grow, back when you started vs. now?
We are still doing a lot of the same things when we started. It’s all about giving value first and then being there when our audience is ready to make a purchase. We are also ok with the fact that some of our audience will never purchase from us.
It goes back to our mission to foster confidence through grooming. For some guys that simply means providing inspiration, for others, it’s teaching them how to use products properly, and others it means supplying the products.
Early on we used a lot of social media, PR, and content marketing to get the word out and in 2019 that is the same focus. Create great content that enhances people’s lives and then use paid online marketing to be there when they are ready to purchase.
Are your sales in some way proportional to your ad spend?
We’ve found it’s more important to have high performing ads, rather than focusing on top line numbers. Subsequently, we may scale back our ad spend to make sure we are getting the proper return on ad spend. Ultimately, the growth of our business is not heavily dependent on our ad spend because we place such an emphasis on content.
How much are you spending on Ads?
We spend about 10% of revenue on Ads.
What other tools are you using for the Beardbrand store?
We’re using tools like Judge.me, ReCharge, Google Analytics, StoreMapper, ShipStation, Zendesk, Zapier, TypeForm, etc.
What kind of problems are you facing today as a business?
I mean, business is simply a series of problems that we are working to overcome. We have countless problems and it’s always evolving with our business. Right now, it’s more about maintaining focus and not blinding trying what is working for other companies and brands. We need to stick to what works for us and simply get better at that.
What is something that just works for your business now, something you wish you/everyone knew?
Developing a brand that stands for something and integrates the quality of the products, the quality of the shopping experience, and the quality of the content all together. It’s really hard, but it’s so much better for the customer.
What would do differently if you were to build your store again?
I would be more focused on doing more of what works well for us and not trying to attempt so many different marketing strategies.
Any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
Build a business built around doing things you love, rather than what you are good at. Business is a grind and you will want to give up if every day you hate doing what you do. By focusing on techniques and strategies that you enjoy, you’ll be able to withstand the grind and build a business you love.
There are a lot of ways to build a business and no right or wrong. Focus on a profitable business that is sustainable and the business can provide everything you want out of life.
You don’t have to grow at all costs or worry about what other companies are/aren’t doing.