Talk Shaving: The Northern Beard Company
When you think about starting a small business, it's likely something you assume will be a slow, steady process, filled with more bumps and criticisms than you'd like to encounter. If this is the rule, then The Northern Beard Company is certainly the exception. If you were to look at their level of success thus far, you would assume they've been at this for years, slowly designing their product through trial and error. Not so, however - because once you create a product as well-crafted as theirs, trial and error are no longer necessary. MenEssentials sat down for coffee with co-founders Chris Canavan and Andy Dinner so they could fill us in on what they've been up to.
Back in late November of last year, Chris realized his extensive beard could use a little conditioning, but wasn't satisfied with what was available on the market. Oh and before we move on, yes, you read that correctly: The Northern Beard Company began a mere 12 weeks ago.
CHRIS: It started out of necessity, basically. We needed a product and there was nothing around here…So I started making the oil, and it worked, so I sent a sample to Andy…
ANDY: Yeah he texted me and said 'Hey man, want to try some beard oil?' And I said "What the hell is beard oil?" [laughs], but I tried it and instantly was like, "wow".
The rest, as we say, is history. After realizing they had a quality product on their hands, turning it into a business seemed like a no-brainer. What they didn't expect, however, was the reception, which they described as being "overwhelmingly warm."
CHRIS: You can even see on our Instagram, people commenting saying how much they love the product.
MenEssentials: But starting a business, that must have been terrifying.
CHRIS: It was definitely a commitment.
ANDY: But we're learning so much every day. I've learned more in the last 12 weeks than I learned in all of high school. It's been an eye-opener, but we've been handling it very well. Everything is just going so smoothly…but we're just staying cautiously optimistic. But the response, as we've said, has been unbelievably good.
ME: So where are you running this operation out of?
ANDY: [Chris] has a quarantined room upstairs in his house, door always closed, no animals allowed, keep it tidy. That's where we make everything.
CHRIS: I do all the testing myself. I make it and I use it before any of it goes out.
ME: Are there any other products you're thinking of branching into?
ANDY: Yeah, there's a lot! We've started making soaps, we're making a beard balm…
CHRIS: We want to get into apparel, too. Shirts, hats. We've had people asking about that…And we want to get into boar bristle brushes. People don't know they should be using a boar bristle brush. The other combs and brushes, they tear your hair out, and leave you with split ends and cracked hairs. You can reduce a lot of that with the boar bristle.
ANDY: Basically we want to corner the facial hair market. That's the overall plan. And we've been hearing about all the different ways people are using the oil. Girls put it in their hair, for example.
CHRIS: A guy reached out to us on Instagram, because with the beard oil he was using people would think that he smokes, because it smelled like an ashtray. The oil just smelled horrible. So he loves our scents, because they're really refreshing.
Which brings us to our personal favourite aspect of the products The Northern Beard Company is producing: they have their scent game on point. Offering fragrances that just aren't available anywhere else, like citrus and mint, is just one of the ways TNBC is setting itself apart from the competition.
CHRIS: We also get a lot of girls buying the oil for their boyfriends. A guy told us that he had narrowed his [fragrance] choice down to Superior Citrus and Alert, and had his girlfriend decide, and she picked the citrus.
ANDY: That's what I want us to be known for. 'Those are the guys with the scents', you know? But it's not even as if all we have are our scents. We use 7 carrier oils in our product, when most other companies are using only 2 or 3. And every single one of those oils we use for a reason. They add to the strength and shine, and moisturize and soften the hair and skin.
CHRIS: We use jojoba oil because it absorbs really quickly into your hair.
ANDY: It just works. We can go head to head with any of the $80 oils out there.
Even though the company is still so young, they have picked up a momentum that shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.
ANDY: We've just been working non-stop. We want to be 'that brand' that you think of when you think of beard oil. That's the longterm goal…and we're not slowing down.
If you want to check out this exciting new brand coming to MenEssentials, and to meet the super cool guys behind it, come to our Toronto location at 412 Danforth Ave on February 21st!