S4 E8: Leading with value and educational content to organically grow with Eric Bandholz (Founder & CEO of Beardbrand)


On this episode of Retention Chronicles, we’re joined by Eric Bandholz, Founder & CEO of Beardbrand. Host Mariah Parsons and Eric discuss:

  • Beardbrand’s content strategy in the early days,
  • empowering customers to love themselves and the trickle down effect on team morale,
  • building a business around what Amazon can and can’t do well,
  • bringing value first to customers with educational content,
  • affiliate marketing,
  • Search engine optimization (SEO),
  • organic social & more!

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Be sure to subscribe to our pod to stay up-to-date and checkout Malomo, the leading order tracking platform for Shopify brands.

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This transcript was completed by an automated system, please forgive any grammatical errors.


people, products, customers, brand, build, work, find, beard, great, business, feel, good, men, trending, packaging, community, years, person, grow, experience


Mariah Parsons, Eric Bandholz

Mariah Parsons 00:04

Hi there, I'm Mariah Parsons, your host of retention Chronicles, ecommerce brands are starting to shift their strategy to focus on retention in the customer experience. And so we've decided to reach out to top DC brands and dive deeper into their tactics and challenges. But here's the thing, we love going on tangents. And so with our guests, you'll often find us talking about the latest trends, as well as any and all things in the Shopify ecosystem. So go ahead and start that workout or go on that walk and tune in as we chat with the leading minds in the space retention Chronicles is sponsored by Malomo. A shipment in order tracking platform, improving the post purchase experience, be sure to subscribe and check out all of our other episodes at go. malomo.com. Hello, everyone, it's Mariah here. Before we dive into this week's episode, I just wanted to share that we are officially announcing our hosting of our very first ever live podcast. It's going to be with some of the top players in the shop by ecosystem. I couldn't be more excited for it. It's free. It's virtual. It's on September 7 at 3pm. Eastern. We'll be hearing from the assistant director of customer experience at broomy, the director of E commerce at rocket chocolates, director of customer experience at Mugsy jeans and more. So if you want to join us had to go malomo.com To get your name on the list or click on the link in this episode's bio. That's go Malomo Gio m a l o n o.com. Now, let's roll with the show. All righty, well, hello, everyone. And welcome back to retention Chronicles. Super, super excited for our guests here today. Coming in from Austin, Texas. Eric. Hello. So happy to have you here.

Eric Bandholz 02:04

What is going on?

Mariah Parsons 02:07

Nothing much. It's been a great Thursday so far. I don't know if you know this, but Malomo has a four day workweek. So you're actually the last person that I get to cap off my week with which is always

Eric Bandholz 02:16

nice. You're just thinking about, you know, having a nice glass of Margarita or something.

Mariah Parsons 02:21

Yeah. All everything. Everything. Yeah, no, it's a beautiful day, too. I'm going to hot yoga later. So I'm super excited for it. Yeah. How's your day been? So far? I know. We were just talking about it. But for the listeners, can you share?

Eric Bandholz 02:34

Yeah. So I mean, a couple of things I put on a small met meet up once a month called cuts and capitalism. It's kind of like a provide private invite only event of econ people and entrepreneurs who I admire. So we had that this morning, over at our or our barber shop. And then we had kind of a unique offer for our customers today as well. So it's been a pretty good sales day, which has been hard to come by lately. So it's been a nice Thursday.

Mariah Parsons 03:07

Yeah, I love that way, a good way to kick off the morning. I'm sure our CEO does a similar sounds similar from outside looking in talking with our customers like once a month just getting like kind of the lowdown on what people are seeing in E commerce. But before we dive into the promo that you all ran today, can you give us your background? Tell us a little bit about why you're sitting and see that you are currently. I think that would be some that would provide some great context for our listeners.

Eric Bandholz 03:37

Yeah, so my name is Eric van Holtz. I'm the founder of beard brand beard brand is a men's grooming company that sells products, obviously for your beard, but we've grown beyond the beard over the years. So we have hair care products, we have skincare products, soaps, deodorants, colognes if you're a dude, I've got a product for you. So I don't care if you have a beard or not beard. That's like the worst excuse I hear. But we've been bootstrapped. So we've been doing this for 11 years now. Started primarily through our organic channels like YouTube, blogging, and we've done a bit of paid on and off over the years, and grown organically. In addition to that, I have my own podcast called E commerce conversations where I talk with other e commerce operators and tend to like I tend to stay away from more of the kind of like business stuff and talk more about like the life of being an entrepreneur and you know those elements. A lot of people don't talk about that to find balance and try to build like sustainability in your business. I think there's this is a little bit of a rant, but I think there's no I love it to my job in Memphis emphasis on the you know, like the accent or growth for the sake of growth, and we lose reflection of being able to spend time with our kids and watching them grow older. We're in, you know, building strong relationships with your loved ones, your partner's your spouse, which can be very challenging with the swings of the business, especially if things are not going well in the business. So, you know, sign to help. Help listeners remember that, you know, remember the why behind why we work. You know, the at a certain point, when you find enough success, I think it behooves most people to understand why they're working. And for some it is, you know, that that money scorecard, and they got to win. But for many others, that's not the right answer.

Mariah Parsons 05:38

Yeah, yeah, I love that that's not much of a tangent at all, honestly, we get into that a lot on this podcast, I think it comes from just our team dynamic here at Malomo is very similar in terms of like, always trying to be grateful and aware of why we work, how we're balancing work in our life outside of there, I know that I was just telling you, we have a four day work week here. And part of the reason that we have that four day work week is so that my co workers who have families, I don't have any children myself, but so that they can find that balance, and then you know, they get to use that Friday to either have a flex day, or find some of that time with their kids, you know, during summer, while School's out, whatever, however you want to use the day to do that. And I talked to a lot of founders about kind of how they've had that bounce, especially in the earlier days with the podcast. And our CEO talks about it pretty openly of like the struggles of trying to lean on your significant other for support, or how to try and balance the two, but also how to, you know, categorize the two because you don't want you know, like his one of his things that I feel like I've learned from joining Malomo has been the, you'll never have like two two separate lives, right? Like one will always bleed into the other. And so whether or not it's you know, you're bringing work home, or you're bringing home to work, you want to try and obviously have both of those parts of you be the best that they can be. So I love hearing about, yeah, kind of, maybe less business.

Eric Bandholz 07:17

So the important thing is like, I I like to remind listeners that there is no right or wrong way to build a business, you know, in different businesses have different purposes and different reasons for existing. So there is no one blueprint, as much as you know, like beginners may be searching for that perfect business blueprint. You do have trade offs, like when you don't grow as fast, you don't grow as fast. And if you have investors or outside partners, or, you know, debt obligations or inventory, you got to move through, like those are the consequences of the growth. So, you know, it's kind of understanding that and, you know, recognizing the advantages and recognizing the disadvantages that come along with it as well. Because, you know, it's fun to talk about growth. It's fun to talk about, you know, how we had our best year ever, and we made, you know, millions of dollars more this year than last year. And, you know, look at us, we're so rapidly growing. Shiny. Yeah. Yeah, not a lot of people are like, Oh, well, you know, I got divorced. And you know, my kids, don't talk to me. And I've gotten really fat and unhealthy. And I've got a bunch of medical bills. Like no one's going around preaching about that. Yeah, so it's

Mariah Parsons 08:37

given take energy. Yeah. Energy. What is God I took physics, but it's like energy flows, right? It never goes away. It just flows to some other state. Yeah, big believer in that personally. Okay, so can you I'm sure. Any of our listeners who are familiar with you might know your founding story. But for those who aren't, could you give us a synopsis of how you started your brand? How you kind of got there?

Eric Bandholz 09:01

Yeah, so I used to be a financial advisor at a mega bank. And he hated working there. I quit working there. I grew my beard, and started like a design business. And in doing so going to networking events, people will call me Grizzly Adams or Duck Dynasty, ZZ Top, and those are cool dudes. But they're also not me. Like I'm a little more urban in nature, a little more city oriented. I got some really soft hands. And, you know, I ended up attending this event with other bearded guys and I realized there's this community of people who didn't fit the traditional stereotype of a bearded guy. Now this is way back in 2012. So like, the founding story is really kind of a dated now, but because nowadays anyone can have a beard. Anyone grows a beard and you know, people of all walks of life have beards. But, you know, 1112 years ago that was not The case where if you are more white collar if you're a lawyer, a doctor, entrepreneur, businessman, salesperson, you are not allowed to wear apparel. Yeah, you know, Disney had a band UPS had a band, a lot of policies were against having facial hair. So a lot of that's changed. And I would like to think that beard brand had a big part in that through our YouTube channel, or, and our blog and our content and helping guys feel comfortable, you know, growing their beards if they want to grow their beards, but also not, you know, talking down to them if they chose not to grow beard, so we respect a man's right to grow his beard as much as it is to shave off his beard. And really what we want is the guy looking back at him in the mirror to love that person. And we believe that when he has that love for himself, that he becomes a better partner, a better father, a better team member, a better leader in the community. And ultimately, through self improvement, we're going to make the world a better place rather than through this kind of top down strategy of force and trying to will people into certain ways.

Mariah Parsons 11:08

Yeah, I love that aspect of it, I feel like there's just in today's day and age, not enough of like, you want to do something for yourself. And, like out of self love and self improvement. So I love that that, you know, even from 2020 or 2012, it sounds like it was part of your foundation as a brand. And I feel like I remember, I can't remember the year Exactly. But when I was first like introduced to beard brand, and I have like a younger brother, so I think it was just popping up from like organic and honestly, something that was trending. And it was really cool. Because I was like, I remember the first time being introduced and being like, oh, like, I feel like my younger brother should see this, like, that would probably be a really good, you know, like, a really good learning moment for him. You know, when you're in the, in your earlier days, when you're now he was I think hitting pre puberty at the time. And I was like, I that's what I hope, you know, we're trending towards that area, which is really cool to see now, sitting here years later getting to chat with you.

Eric Bandholz 12:14

It's a, you know, it's really interesting to talk about it because I do believe that men and especially young men are getting a lot of mixed messages with like how to be you know, there's, there's almost this polarization question of this fight between, like hyper masculinity and all those like, really traditional roles. And then, you know, like, the, kind of like the, I don't know, if it's Gen Z, or just like the young people today and just kind of like, you know, pronouns and like gender fluidity and nothing's binary. And just like this battle, where are men don't know where to fall in line. And, and, you know, we take it from her perspective that we're not really telling you, there's one way or the other, what we're telling you is like, you have to evaluate yourself, and look at yourself and, and, and understand yourself, and then think about like, how do I become a better version of myself? How do I, you can see my flag over there, keep on growing, that's our tagline. So how do I keep on growing and become a better version of myself, whatever that version may be, you know, like, it's not about fitting into certain kinds of societal norms, it's about finding your own pathway and finding out what works best for you. Because the reality is, you know, the smallest minority in the world is the individual, and very few people aim to protect the individual. So we're big believers in individual. And when you have individuals, you have so much diversity and variety and uniqueness that you aren't going to get by trying to categorize everyone into like, this is a, you know, this type of person, and this is this type of person, you guys should fight. I think it's all kind of kind of silly, but it is, to a certain degree, the world we live in.

Mariah Parsons 14:03

Yeah, it's something about human nature, you want to try and make sense of it all. But that's a fallacy you'll never be able to. Right. So. Yeah, I think that's awesome in the fact that you all can give the tools to someone that if they look in the mirror, and they say like, oh, this is something I even, like, I'm not even sure but I want to experiment in and, you know, if you don't have someone else in your life, who maybe could teach you that role for you all to step in and be like, Okay, here's this YouTube video who thought like, shows you how to do XYZ or like the products that you should use if you're trying to achieve this look, or that look, whatever, right? Like, it's just the enablement and it's not the, you know, the acceptance of like, this is the only way that you can do something but it's just if you choose to do so then here's something that might help you. And I think that's something that as brands especially in the DTC space, I see that more and more where education like education first. And I think I like as a consumer as a person as a whole. I admire that. Um, That approach rather than the sales pitch, perhaps

Eric Bandholz 15:03

Well, I'll tell you life life, that way is a lot harder. Because, you know, a lot of this kind of goes back to my experiences, I went to public school in South Carolina, and it was just like, take these tests, get A's and B's, you'll do good. You go on to college, you know, pick a major that you think you enjoy, get good grades, you'll get a job, do what the boss says, do a good job, you'll make a lot of money, you'll be happy or retire. And, you know, it was this whole expectation of just like, come in, and do as you're told, and wife will be great. And me personally, I always struggled, because I didn't feel like I was one of those people who could just do what I was told and, and enjoy it. I know, there's a lot of people out there who thrive in that type of environment. In there's some safety in that and it's like, okay, if I just follow it to the experts, or the leaders or their authorities and in society, then I'll be safe. And okay, and, and so I think a lot of people are drawn to that comfort. But when you realize that you have the the true free will to do whatever you want in the life and build whatever you want in life. And, you know, from my perspective, as a founder of a company that focuses on serving men, like I have an ability to kind of shape the way that society thinks about facial hair and shapes the way that society thinks about men and how men can take and, and I don't have to play these games, I can create my own pathway. That to me is the beauty of entrepreneurship. And, you know, really being an individual and understanding that, you know, going back to business is like, how do I build a business? What's a blueprint? For business? It's like, well, you could follow what they tell you in college, you know, write out your business plan, and you go get a loan, you go, you know, do whatever the heck they tell you,

Mariah Parsons 16:59

your audience, your target audience. Yeah. ICP, do your market

Eric Bandholz 17:03

research. Like, you know, there's so many different ways of doing it. It's like, do I want to raise money? Do I not want to raise money? Like, do I want to grow to, you know, 100 million dollars, do I want to grow to a million dollars, so I want to grow to $500,000 and have no employees and, you know, do what I love, you know, like, there's so many different ways of doing it, that if you just go in and you follow this blueprint, you may be following and building something that you hate, that you find miserable, like, you know, reporting to investors could be like drudgery for you. Or it could be brilliant, you know, you may love raising money and that experience. So take that time to like journal and figure out what you love about life and the things that you love, and build a business that is conducive to that. Because when you do that you're going to be able to do it for I mean, I've done it for a decade, and knock on wood, if I can't, I'll do it for another decade. And another. And I think like that's one of the the keys to entrepreneurship that nobody talks about is like, how do we build a sustainable business, not in the sense that, you know, is profitable or making money or in the sense that it's good for the environment and whatever, but sustainable in the sense that you enjoy working on the business for long periods of time, and that the problems that you face in business are worthy problems of you wanting to fight and solve those problems? Huh, yeah, I

Mariah Parsons 18:29

love that. Okay, so I'm going to continue this, because it's, I love hearing about this so much. And my the question that was coming to mind was, so you, I, you don't have investors or those people that you have to answer to that you build, you strategically built your company that way. And so I want to dive into that. And I also want to dive into how do you then like, from this team belief? How do you make sure that like, trickle down effect, all the other people who are working at your brand, also believe on that, like, how do you get team mentality? I would love to hear your your thoughts on like, how you kind of keep that morale keep everyone on the same page?

Eric Bandholz 19:10

Yeah, I mean, I think like the way we're building the business, because it is, you know, closer to a lifestyle business, you don't have that necessary, need to hire really quickly. And because of that, you know, we're making one or two hires a year, we can hire really slow and make sure we have the right people. And then if they're not the right fit, we can let them go. So that seems pretty small, like 10 people. And when you have 10 people, it's pretty easy to see who fits into that and who doesn't fit into that. But beyond that, in terms of like, organizational structure, we do have core values which are freedom, and trust. And those are integrated into, you know, highly make decisions. They're integrated into the hiring process at your brand. So, so people live it and know Do it every single day. And it's kind of how we make decisions with, you know, just the vendors we choose, or if we have a situation with a customer. And then, you know, we talked about the mission, and you know, what we're trying to do in terms of helping men love the person looking back at them in the mirror, and how our products can conserve that and how we can support and level up our customer. So we've certainly had challenges, I think the hardest thing that that are one of the challenges to the business was in hiring and the early years. And you we got, it was a blessing and a curse, like the first person we hired, we just posted on Craigslist, and, you know, it was like a $12 an hour employee at the time, just kind of like an assistant, and this person was great, you know, like, they're just like, would take on any work, you know, as hungry to learn represented our core values. And we're like, oh, you know, this hiring is easy. So like we never had, because we hired an excellent person on the first hire, we didn't really have this need to improve our processes. And then we went through like, a series of just like, bad hiring processes until we finally implemented, we call it like a top grading hiring process. So if you Google top grading, you know, we've tweaked it to our own use, but basically, they're asking for references and doing you know, kind of like, third party, third party perspective questions like, What is your boss going to say, when we asked them how you work? And then we go, and we do a reference check. And we kind of verify that's what they would say or not say, you're

Mariah Parsons 21:48

right, yeah.

Eric Bandholz 21:49

So it's kind of like a, you know, it's a way to like weed out kind of like the See, see below players because they're not going to have good warm references. And, you know, then from there, it's just kind of finding like, you can have an A player that doesn't fit your culture. Those are really frustrating, because you have to let someone go, who isn't incredibly talented. But, you know, like, we have a very little management and structure and organization. So the people who thrive at the brand, do really well with and guity and like uncertainty and being able to find their own problems. So some people love that environment. And some people like more concrete, like, show me what to do, and I'll do a good job. Yeah, it

Mariah Parsons 22:37

goes back towards like, knowing yourself, I feel like like looking in the mirror and being like, Okay, this is what I know, this is the type of environment I know will suit me. And just being able to have that match, like on both levels from the company. And then obviously, the person which it sounds like you, you all have been fortunate to find those people. So I think that's awesome. Okay, so I want to move us into a little bit more of the business chat, just to find out like some techniques that I know, that's not what you focus on in your podcast. So I'm hopeful that you're excited to kind of get into the weeds of it. I think a great note to start on would be talking about the promotion that you all ran today, I have a question that I was going to ask you anyways, which was what are your favorite marketing campaigns that you've ever run? So I'm curious to see if today marks the day what learnings you had all that fun stuff?

Eric Bandholz 23:25

Yeah, so the promotion we ran today was, you know, long story short, we rebranded our products into aluminum packaging to be more sustainable. And we had some old stock that we didn't sell through that, that we rediscovered. So we offer that to our customers at a reduced price and kind of some of we had, we used to have six fragrances and we went down to three fragrances so like some people who really love the old fragrances, legit cannot buy them anymore. And you know, this was a chance to buy them one last time. So it's not, you know, it's not something that I want to duplicate, you know, like changing my packaging all over again and have extra sock and then you know, this is sell them at a reduced price. So but it is nice to know that there's there's inventory that we're going to be able to, to unload and free up a little bit. So we don't have to throw all that inventory away, you know, in a number of years or whatever it is when they they start to get that but so that's that's today's promotion, which is probably not very duplicable. But in terms of, you know, the ones that are my favorite, I'm a creative person and we'll we'll do collaborations and unique fragrances from time to time with the various people. We did one with like Chris Daughtry, who's a musician

Mariah Parsons 24:57

loved archery crew.

Eric Bandholz 25:02

We did one with a YouTuber, Jeremy Syers. And he, he's got a nice audio. And so that was a good collaboration. And then we've done just some where it's like, I got inspiration from, you know, like something from my childhood, like going down to the beach and the smells of the beach and being able to bottle that and tell a story around that. There's a lot of fun. So being able to do these, like limited edition products is a lot of fun. I know not, I don't know, probably every company could probably do some kind of limited edition I put, you know, like a special packaging or, you know, like a different kind of, like, if you're making wallets, it's a different kind of leather or, you know, whatever it may be, I think there's usually ways of doing it. I know, like it can, if you do it too frequently, then it no longer becomes special. So there's always that balance, and I don't know that right answer. And not alone. You know, like, there's also like, understanding like, what is that supply and demand? And you know, how quickly do you want to sell out? Do you want to sell out in two days? Or do you want to sell out in a quarter? You know, and like, you know, what kind of urgency Do you want to create? So there's a lot of strategy in that. But I wish I knew the answers, even after doing them. But but I don't.

Mariah Parsons 26:23

Yeah, I mean, probably some of it is kind of you don't know what the answers are. It's like excitement, right? Like you get to do this new thing and learn from another launch that you're doing. So do you do you do any like pre sale or anything beforehand? Or is it just like launch on the website day of every all the notifications are going out then? Or do you do some stuff beforehand?

Eric Bandholz 26:45

No, we do. So we try to drive people to sign up to our SMS for early, early access. So I think like we typically will launch at like 10 o'clock, and then you know, at seven o'clock, if you're on the textless will tax it out. And that was that was really important when our strategy was like enough inventory to last a day or two. Because then you can really drive that SMS acquisition because it's like, Hey, this is going to sell two days, if you don't get the SMS, you're pretty much going to be gone. So that was a, you know, we were trying to shoot for, I don't know, I think it was like 2x or maybe 3x. The amount of units that you had was kind of like the goal where I knew it'd be successful. And then, you know, in addition to the SMS acquisition, you want to acquire emails as well. So there was like a lot of lead up a lot of hype, the best, I think the best ones that we've done. Were Black Sails and bold fortune and bold fortune, was with Jeremy and he's a YouTuber, so he was able to create some really cool video assets that we could do as teasers beforehand. Black Sails was a nautical theme, so we kind of had like this pirate esque vibe to it. And like this black and white video that we teased out. And I think it was really easy and clear how we could describe the product. So yeah, those are a lot of fun. Because there's a lot of crates is a lot of work for, you know, like, when you compare it to one of your, your staples, you know, that sticks around. It's a lot of work compared to that. But I think it just like brings energy to your, your business that brings excitement to your business. And I guess people like, you know, wanting to participate and also not missing out on something that they may love.

Mariah Parsons 28:47

Yeah, I feel like a big part of that is kind of like the FOMO. Right? Like, if you have really loyal customers of Oh, like I want to subscribe, I want to sign up because of XYZ because of all these Limited Edition offers. It drives, you know, like, oh, I want to I want to be aware, I want to be in the know, like, and then we always talk about this just being in the post purchase post purchase space of like, where can you generate that excitement because that's where brands stick right? Like that's, that's the money. That's where you're making those additional touches where someone's like, I'm truly like an advocate for this brand where it's like, they don't just have a good product, right? Like I think everyone would agree that you need, you need a good product for someone to to be a repeat buyer. But then if you go that extra step and you can generate that excitement, either before they have the product or while they're buying it or even while they're waiting or once they have it like those additional touch points are very very strong. Very valuable like to you and your team and to them as well.

Eric Bandholz 29:47

Yeah, there's this is going to sound like I'm beating a dead horse but

Mariah Parsons 29:54

to hear things a lot to make.

Eric Bandholz 29:57

There's no right way or wrong way to To build a business, the way we choose to build the business is we kind of think about, what are the things that Amazon can do? Well, and what are the things that can't do? Well, and you know, very specific advice and guidance is something that I don't think they can do well. So that's why we have style consultants and, you know, a pleasant and nice unboxing experience. I think it's something they can't do. Well, either. They just kind of throw stuff in with bubble wrap.

Mariah Parsons 30:26

Sometimes crazy, though, that you get stuff. Yeah. Yeah.

Eric Bandholz 30:31

So, you know, we want to try to compete in ways that Amazon can't compete, and not try to compete with Amazon in terms of like getting stuff out in two days. Yes, we want to be quick. But we're not going to like spin all of our brain energy, like, oh, yeah, we gotta have, you know, 24 hour delivery. But it's because

Mariah Parsons 30:48

I imagine like, you're not going to sacrifice the things that you just said, like the unboxing experience for that two day shipping.

Eric Bandholz 30:54

Well, not only that, like if people want that, they're just going to go to Amazon, or you know, some kind of small, independent brand, assuming that they have operations in line with Amazon. I mean, like, come on, like, realistically, we're not going to be able to do that we have to rely on, you know, third party parties, or third party partners like USPS and DHL and FedEx to serve our customers. And you know, like, we can make those guarantees. So I would encourage anyone, like, if you are more customer oriented, then yes, you try to win them through that service and that experience, and you'll need a higher price point to justify those additional resources. But if you're very data oriented, and almost kind of like, just data oriented, then I would be much more inclined to be like an Amazon seller, and focus on like the product features and the price point and have a very lean team with a lot less headaches, but a lot more efficiency. So they're your margin. You know, ideally, both businesses would be doing a similar net profit. It's just different ways of doing it and different kind of infrastructure for your back end of how your team is built out and how you allocate your resources.

Mariah Parsons 32:12

Yeah, yeah, so talking about allocating resources. You all started off with just the like you said, the skews around growing a beard and beard upkeep. So how did you start to expand then your product catalog? Like what was the process there? How did you decide where to go? Yeah, I

Eric Bandholz 32:29

mean, if we go back to the really early days, we didn't actually know what kind of company we wanted to be. We've always been about you know, the brand and the mission. We haven't been like a product first company so we used to, we used to sell like suspenders and wallets, and you know, T shirts and all sorts of kind of like accessories to accessorize the urban beardsman a hell I even sold all the oil at one point, some bracelets, you know, like, then all at all? Yeah, yeah. So it was through doing that, we realized that our customers were drawn to the grooming products, and we decided to focus on that. You know, we, I like to be innovative with products, I don't like to make products that kind of already exist on the marketplace. So I'd like to do things a little bit differently. We're really early on the beard oil game, which no one was really producing at that time. So we weren't the first there but but I would say we were the first to kind of make it more acceptable. We have a utility balm that you can use on your beard on your face on your body and that was 100 tattoos. That was a great product to kind of go beyond the beard. And our Utility Balm you know it was a great performer for us and then our sea salt spray. is also like been an incredible product for us. It's a hair styling product that will give you a beachy texture in your hair. It can kind of act as a what they call a dry shampoo even though it's not dry. But in today's in between washes and and for a lot of guys who are experiencing like fine hair thinning hair, it's a great styling product because it's not going to wear your hair down it's not going to give it that greasy bend look it's going to give you more volume kind of dry look to it. So that products does really well for us on Amazon and of course on our store as well. And yeah, you know, like it just kind of get inspiration for various products and trying to do things differently. So we have a full line of utility products that are incredibly versatile or utility bomb or utility bar utility wash, utility softener, utility oil. All of these products can be used on multiple different ways. And and our customers really get incredible value for that and are able to simplify you know their, their space in their house and also

Mariah Parsons 34:59

routine beans as well.

Eric Bandholz 35:03

You know, it's like one less bottle or you know, sometimes like three less pallet bottles in the shower. But not only that, it's like, I don't think anyone's been doing like premium kind of like luxury products like the the all in wines and the three and wines and stuff like that tend to be produced by these, like brands that are sold in drugstores, you don't see a lot of premium companies offering these products. So I feel like we have a unique offering in the marketplace to, to really serve the needs of guys who understand the value of looking good and the value of simplicity in time.

Mariah Parsons 35:41

Yeah, yeah, I love the I feel like that's like knowing your customers, right. And knowing the pain points that you can reduce as a brand is so helpful. Because you can say like, you know, it can reduce the space that you know your products are taking up, you can reduce your routine. But you can also trust that the products are better compared to maybe the other things that are on the shelf that you're looking at that are made by those bigger, those bigger brands that you probably wouldn't have as much affinity for, because of the all of it all the things that we discussed earlier. So my Yeah, go ahead.

Eric Bandholz 36:17

I was just going to say like the analogy I like to make is like we're selling like our products or the G wagons of the automotive world. You know, like, if you really want the best solution, you buy a sports car, you know, you buy a Jeep Wrangler you buy a minivan, you buy like but you or you could just buy a G Wagen. Everything like really well, like it's fast. It goes well off road, it carries a bunch of people all your stuff around. And yes, it's not the fastest round the track. And yes, it's probably not the best off rotor and yes, is probably not the best people mover. But it's really damn good at a lot of things. And it's not, we're not selling, you know, the Chevy Equinox or whatever, we're selling the fucking G Wagen of products. So that's kind of the analogy I like to use when we think about our products.

Mariah Parsons 37:08

I could also see like, I wonder if you would agree with this, like, kind of like a timeless element. And I think that like speaks to your branding as well kind of, like through through the through the years, it'll still stay like relevant. And I think I might have even read something. Whereas on your website, like not not going with a fad. Is that correct?

Eric Bandholz 37:26

Yeah, I mean, like, it's, we, we did a rebrand I guess, the beginning of last year when we switched to aluminum packaging, and that was like our previous magazine we had for 10 years. So we're thinking about like, just how do we do the next 10 years, and do it in a way that you know, can be timeless that isn't really chasing trends and kind of can be something people can count on for a long period of time. So a lot of those decisions, like I wanted to move towards this like cyberpunk kind of like think cybertruck or DeLorean Vive or Blade Runner, you know, like that kind of vibe, but I didn't want to bring that like twitchiness into the packaging. Like I didn't want to throw neon into the label and have like all the triangles in the sunsets, because I feel like that would get data. But it's like the photography and things like that, that we can integrate and tie into the packaging design is going to be like how we get there, or how the like maybe the websites designed and we can kind of tweak and evolve the website as like online styles change and evolve. And we can tweak and evolve with photography as well. But you kind of do or we wanted to add packaging that we felt like could could stand for at least the next 10 years. So we'll see if that works or not. Yeah, we'll

Mariah Parsons 38:48

come back in 10 years. Yeah, we'll double check. Yeah, that makes sense of not being wanting to put constraints on yourselves where they're perhaps maybe unnecessary. So you have these products. How do you take them to market is my next question for you? Like, what's your what's your strategy? I know you said at the beginning of the episode, not really paid paid ads aren't a huge portion. It's more organic.

Eric Bandholz 39:11

Yeah, I mean, at this point, we're 10 and 11 years old. So we have a nice basic customer. So hopefully, we're developing a product that will tie into our customers lives and can kind of like, bounce out a different product from a different company they're using, so like a new deodorant or something that enhances their lives. So we would start with our customers and our email marketing would would kind of be our original go to and then you know, it's kind of like that constant reminder of what the product is doing. We do a lot of affiliate marketing. So we do PR outreach, and we'll try to work with like Forbes and GQ and men's health and get them to prod Duck. So I tried to develop links. SEO has been a big part of us. So we do a lot of blog content education. And then of course, our YouTube channel or tiktoks, or shorts will create content around the products, how to use the products and educate people about the products. So we lean onto that. And then, you know, this year we are trying to get into paid. I do feel like there's still opportunity in there, if we can do it. Well, we just historically haven't been very good at it. So you know, we'll try again, on your number 11. We'll see. But I do think like, you know, paid marketing, Facebook, Instagram is a great way of acquiring new customers is it just takes a lot of work. And a lot of talent, I think to be successful.

Mariah Parsons 40:49

Yeah, you kind of have to crack the code, I feel like with, with our organic and even I like just from this podcast alone, the strat the difference in strategies that I've seen that every every person takes is interesting, because I don't think you know, there's not one strategy. It's not like you, I feel like SEO is kind of, and of course, there's you could never make a generalization for anything. I'm a true believer in that. But SEO I think is way more nowadays, way more like science databased than perhaps like social. We haven't gotten to that point. I think where there's as much behind it like you have to, or at least the the knowledge of that isn't as widely shared. Like, I think there's, there's all that work behind algorithms and whatnot, but I don't think it's the knowledge of that is as it doesn't touch as many as perhaps SEO could.

Eric Bandholz 41:41

Yeah. And I mean, like, I don't know if I've even recommend building an SEO strategy now with like aI coming out. People just tell the privacy of kids. Yeah, so I don't know, like how you make sure that your products end up in the AI answers. And like, how do you rank for that? And be like, what are the best? You know, what are the best beard oil is Google barred? And like, how do I get number one, like, people are going to trust that or they're not going to trust that like, so those are kind of like the interesting things that you know, make business interesting is because it's always changing, and you always have to adapt to it. And if you're not willing to adapt, you will eventually fall. So it goes back to, again, early in the conversation, like how do you have that energy and passionate to solve the problems? Because the problems never end? They absolutely never end?

Mariah Parsons 42:32

Yeah, it's always there's always gonna be something new. And now I feel like currently, as we're recording this, it's AI, which is always fun. And yeah, it's always that same conversation as well, just with tick tock, and now they're trending towards more of being like a search engine, right. So it's like, with SEO and Google and everything we've known for the past X amount of years, that also is changing at the same time that, you know, now a search engine and a social media platform are one of the same. And quite popular. So yeah, it's fascinating. I think, I think it'll be interesting to see, of course, where everything goes. And I also wanted to talk about the so with social for the organic pieces that you're making with YouTube, because you started so early in the brand. Do you feel like that's led to an increase of interest, like just kind of like a compounding effect through the years with your customers? Like if you I guess my question is if you hadn't had that approach with the organic Education First, do you think your your experience right now we're where your, your strategy is going right now would look different? If you didn't have like, that piece?

Eric Bandholz 43:45

Yeah, man. So kind of like the beard brain way is ideally we give value first and then you know, hope that that you know, is reciprocated through a sale, it's not always done that way. But that's just kind of the the mindset we have is you know, tried to bring value to the world and try to give our customers an experience that is as low risk as possible. You know, YouTube's in great because it allows us to be ourselves and show who we are and allows us to develop trust with our audience, which is one of our core values. So you can deliver a lot of information and build a lot of trust, through sharing your own expertise with with customers and, and find like minded people. So I do think like YouTube's been instrumental it's been, you know, probably drives about half of our customer acquisition is through through YouTube awareness. However, it certainly comes with its challenges. You know, we mentioned we've been doing it 12 years, you know, that's a blessing and a curse in the sense that you can kind of get pigeonholed into like a certain type of content. And then if that content, you know, I don't know, like, again, the best analogy to make is like, if you're, you know, your business is built around, you know, Saturn automobiles, I wouldn't do a lot of car analogies to do it. You know, let's say like, your whole YouTube channel was built around Saturn. And then GM decides to shut Saturn down, and they're no longer making new cars, then, like, if you stay on Saturn, like eventually, that it's going to go down to zero as you lose all the customers in the audience. But if you make a switch to a different brands, you're going to lose everything that you've built, because they came in to watch like Saturn content. So like, how do you find the ability to kind of like trend and shift a community as large as ours, it's really challenging. So creating content that doesn't alienate or doesn't push away. Longtime subscribers, but can also still attract a new audience is a really challenging problem.

Mariah Parsons 46:06

Yeah, so it does is that um, how do you like when you talk about bringing value to your customers? I know you have, like, the different like, you have, like the consultations that you can have with your customers or consumers can have with you all, you have like the membership as well. Are those like how you're looking at trying to bridge maybe, like the gap between your like, loyal, like subscriber base, and then the new things you're doing? Or how are you trying to like, close that gap? Is it something you're evolving and learning every day? Or?

Eric Bandholz 46:43

Yeah, so I mean, I think this style consultant is, you know, again, I've got a guy here in the office who has great style, and he works out of his offices in the barber shop, so he sees what's going on. In Austin, I feel like it's kind of forward thinking when it comes to style trends and things like that. So I just think it's really, you know, it's something we do well, so why not share with our customers and for people who, you know, need help or guidance, and it's not really a huge burden, they just soon shoot us a text message and send us some selfies. And then, you know, we give them recommendation that they can take to their Barber, and then their barber will do them up, right? And then they send that photo again, and we're like, oh, yeah, man, you nailed it? Or maybe, you know, maybe this isn't the best style for you, or maybe yours, what went right or what went wrong? And you know, like, there is no, like, we're not charging for that service. So there is a bit of a risk and investment on our end, but I do think, you know, when you tell him like, Hey, man, if you want to style that hair, there's some styling paste in there, and some sea salt spray, and here's how you do it, that people would be more receptive to grabbing those products. So I'm in the alliance is again, like we we've developed a community of like minded people, so how do we help them, you know, connect with other people, because you might not be able to, to find those people in, in person. So you're able to create an online community, and every once in a while putting on an event in person that allows them to connect in person, I think, is a pretty special thing as a lot of people. I mean, this is a deeper conversation, but like, you know, the participation and religion has declined over the years. And you know, a big part of religion is that community, it's not just, you know, believing in the dogma or the lessons or whatever, but it's also being around people. So when you you lose that religion, you lose that community, and like, how do you help people who might not have that community, find theirs and build it together and, and find healthy ones, because you can also get down, you know, a negative rabbit hole of maybe not healthy communities, especially if you feel isolated, right? So you don't want to come into, you know, like, what are they like, and sales and involuntary celibates and just like, you know, the people who are miserable in life. So trying to create a more positive community that will help shape them in a positive outlook, I think is, you know, something that's important. So so we do it.

Mariah Parsons 49:25

Yeah. I love that. And I think, too, like I it's kind of full circle, because you had said you had you had gone to an event that you yourself like found that community, right? So I imagine there might be a little bit of an element of like paying it forward or paying it back of like, now you are here 11 years later, with this success and brand and community and everything that we've discussed for the past X amount of time. So I imagine that was maybe a little bit of inspiration of I want to be part of an active force, also helping other people find that commute. Buddy. Yeah, I

Eric Bandholz 50:01

think it's just natural to who I am. You know. So it goes back to like build a business that you enjoy. It's like I enjoy being around people I enjoy community. That's how, when I started growing a beard, I went to like online beard forums and talked with other people to figure it out. And so yeah, it's just do the things that you love in life and life will be pretty good.

Mariah Parsons 50:22

Yeah, I love I love that note, as much as I would love to continue asking you questions. I think I'm gonna leave us off there. Thank you so much for making the time, Eric. I know we were connected. And I was so happy when we were. And this has blown my expectations out of the water. So thank you for making the time.

Eric Bandholz 50:38

Cool. I appreciate all that flattery and compliments I'll take on.

Mariah Parsons 50:42

Oh, my person is I love to dish it out. So I'll always take opportunity.

Eric Bandholz 50:48

Thanks for having me on.