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How This 21-Year-Old Found Winning Products and Grew His Beard Grooming Brand
Paul Lee’s life was considerably different a year ago. He was a college student in the United States studying art and worked as a server in a restaurant from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. He despised it. When business was sluggish at the restaurant, he would study business books. He’d spend hours at home watching web videos on establishing a business, working from home, and being your boss. He was looking for something more.
“I’ve always felt like I was squandering my time, both in school and at my 9-to-5 employment. I was never in charge; I was always confined to a system, and I was always working for someone else.”
Since then, he’s grown HUSKYBEARD, his beard grooming ecommerce site, into a six-figure business. As a result, he’s resigned from his job, dropped out of college, and is rethinking his plans.
Paul’s fascination with beards began when he chose to grow one of his own. He dived deep into the world of the beard because he wanted to do things correctly.
First, he learned about beard-cutting practices, tangling and dryness difficulties, and the necessity of maintaining sufficient hydration for your follicles. Then, he joined the hairy-faced network on Instagram, where he encountered a close-knit group of people who were passionate about flaunting their facial fuzz.
Recognizing New Product Potential
The more he knew about beards, the more he recognized the industry as having potential. A spate of beard grooming firms had already established themselves, and there was a devoted community eager to support new products.
While it may appear that growing a beard is as simple as ceasing to shave and allowing the hair to sprout, it is a little more involved. Your hair may grow more quickly in some areas than others, presenting you with a patchwork beard.
You could use a beard growth product in these cases. And, as he realized when he started researching the items for himself, there’s a lot of snake oil and bogus products out there. He discovered basic vitamin supplements posing as beard-growing marvels and other hair-growth formulas that, although appearing to work, had a plethora of negative side effects.
He recognized an opportunity to design a solution that worked for beard growth.
A Big Decision: A $10,000 Investment
He spent the next three months devoting his time, effort, and money to finding a beard-growth solution. First, he reviewed hundreds of hours of difficult scientific studies on individual substances to determine which ones were associated with hair growth. Then, he talked with medical researchers and hair growth firms to examine his findings and assess whether the formulation of substances he had put together would work.
He then hired cosmetic chemists to assist him with the formulation of his product.
He’d already spent $700 of his savings on the recipe and consultations with experts. He was eager to keep moving forward, bringing his product closer to reality. Unfortunately, this turned out to be more difficult than he had anticipated.
According to the chemists he spoke with, developing his formulation would necessitate the fabrication of 1000 units at the very least and would cost him at least $10,000.
He was talking big business, and it was a significant investment for a college student who was now surviving by waiting tables. He was, after all, new to the company and much more unique to the cosmetics industry. Nevertheless, he recalls pondering the decision uncomfortably, thinking, “I don’t even know whether this is going to sell.”
Despite this, he felt prepared to take on the challenge. He was more than eager to start his firm, even though he was well aware that running any business included some risk. “I kept telling myself, ‘I have to have the confidence to pay $10,000 and hope it works.'”
He reached out to several cosmetic legal regulators to discuss his product concept, thinking that the discussions would give him the confidence to go ahead and invest $10,000 in his first batch. However, their advice was not so encouraging.
They forewarned him about the regulatory ramifications of developing a new medicine. The FDA’s “New Drug Application” procedure costs more than $2 million and takes 4 to 8 years to complete. While he was tempted to skip the regulatory process, they told him that the FDA would eventually catch up with him, which would be disastrous.
He accepted that it wouldn’t work because his confidence had been broken, and he felt deflated.
Discovering the Benefits of Dropshipping
He came up with the notion of dropshipping one night while up late watching YouTube videos of entrepreneurs. As he scrolled down, he came across more and more stories of successful entrepreneurs using dropshipping to sell their goods. After that, he went down a rabbit hole of information.
He discovered that the major advantage of drop shipping was that he wouldn’t have to invest in his inventory. Instead, he’d have the merchandise held for him by the supplier, and he’d only have to pay for it after he completed a sale. This seemed like a better and safer bet than putting $10,000 into a product he might not sell.
He wouldn’t have to worry about delivery because the supplier would directly provide the merchandise to his clients. Because the supplier will handle inventory and fulfillment, he can concentrate on sourcing and selling the products. For him, the business concept made sense. Before investing in stock, he knew he could test a variety of dropshipped products with real customers.
He says he changed his entire business approach from custom-created products to drop shipping other people’s items.
He created a Shopify account and installed Oberlo, enabling him to import dropshipping vendors’ products.
Early Days: Experiment and Learn
It wasn’t easy to get started. With so much to learn, he says, “I was working on it for 10-12 hours a day, nonstop at first.”
He discovered that product sourcing was crucial. “The majority of my time in the beginning was spent searching through AliExpress looking for anything related to beards that I could sell.”
He struck gold after years of research, trials, and goods that didn’t fit the market.
Finally, he discovered a ‘winning product,’ one that resonated with his target market. He explains, “I marketed it on Facebook and everyone loved it.” He then stepped up his efforts, perfecting Facebook’s advertising strategy and expanding the HUSKYBEARD brand.
His personal beard may not have worked out so well — he seemed to have shaved on our Skype video call – but HUSKYBEARD continued to grow. The store continued to reach new milestones, such as the first sale, the first $100 sales day, the $500 day, and the $1000 day. He recalls being overjoyed at the time, saying, “Right as I got that $1000 in one day, I immediately wanted to tell everybody.”
Things were heating up in the business, and he knew he needed to take things up because he was only making roughly $3000 per month.
After a few months of running HUSKYBEARD, he made a significant decision. “I quit my job and dropped out of college. He laughs, “It was very drastic.”
The Next Step: Creating a Brand and Dealing with Growing Pains
Paul had always intended for HUSKYBEARD to become a brand. As a result, he worked with his supplier to brand his most popular products and provide branded packaging. “I thought placing the emblem on the products would assist the brand tremendously.” He began to invest in large-scale orders of his products, making deals with his suppliers for orders of 200, 500, and ultimately 1000 products at a time. Initially, he chose to fulfill the orders himself, sending them out from his home. He acknowledges that he made a mistake. “We received 1000 goods when we initially received our inventory, and we had to mail them all out ourselves. It was just me and my cousin working all night in our house to finish it.” He recalls how exhausting it was to pack and send order after order. “It was only a headache, but it was excruciating. It was simply terrible.”
HUSKYBEARD’s inventory is now controlled by a third-party fulfillment firm, which is in charge of delivering its orders to clients all over the world. This is crucial, he says, and a proposal he would make to any dropshipper considering taking control of their inventory.
Even though he never had the opportunity to develop his beard growth product, all of his hours of study were not in vain. Instead, he created his line of Beard Oils, which come in a variety of flavors.
Taking a bet on his product also got him noticed, garnering him the admiration of George Bruno, one of the most well-known barbers and beard-wearers.
The Biggest Moments: Conquering Black Friday
One of his happiest moments, in retrospect, necessitated a great deal of hustling. He’d been running the company full-time for a few months, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday were approaching. He understood he had to take advantage of the year’s biggest sales weekend. So he worked on sales methods for 45 days straight, preparing for the big day. “I had taken a lot of risks, I had borrowed money from business loans and from my grandmother,” he adds of the weeks preceding up to the weekend.
He spent weeks leading up to Black Friday concentrating on growing his mailing list. He realized it would be difficult to stand out on Black Friday, so he wanted to ensure his message got to the appropriate people. He ran a free product promotion for his Beard Comb for 30 days, resulting in over 7,000 leads. He nurtured the leads with follow-up emails containing valuable material, such as blog posts about beard care that he’d authored. When the time arrived, he sent out a series of letters to his mailing list, announcing a 20-40% discount on some of his most popular products. He stood there and watched as sales flooded in throughout the weekend. Customers were increasingly clicking through from the emails and making purchases. He had gotten 210 orders and made almost $7,900 by the end of the weekend. His phone continued beeping with sales notifications, “Ka-ching!” I breathed a sigh of relief. The perseverance had paid off.
So, What Happens Next?
Paul is now looking forward to a future without beards. He recently put HUSKYBEARD for sale on the Exchange Marketplace, purchased by another driven entrepreneur. But he’s not finished with business; he’s already opened a second store and is using the same development strategy as HUSKYBEARD. He’s employing Oberlo’s drop shipping approach to test his products in the market once more. He’ll utilize his next brand to build after he finds another “successful product.” This time, he’s set his sights on growing it even bigger to turn the company into a significant international brand. Through his company, ECOMSWIFT, he is now delivering one-on-one advising and mentorship to prospective ecommerce businesses.
He attributes his success to his test-and-learn strategy. “I would not have been able to find winning items or scale without Oberlo.” And for anyone else considering a business based on the same premise, he feels that it’s a wonderful approach, saying, “The possibilities is infinite.”