In an effort to tell our story more completely and help other aspiring entrepreneurs, some of whom might be out there to make the world and the beards in it better, we’ve decided to tell the story of The Handsome Bee in a multi-part series. If you’re more of an audio/visual kind of person, you can see part one of this series below.
Like all comic book villains, every beard oil company has an origin story. It’s not uncommon to find About Us sections of any given beard oil’s website, detailing the saga of the founder who grew a beard, needed oil to keep it in check, and being completely underserved by the existing 1,500 beard oils that currently occupy the Earth, had no choice but to create their own. This beard oil, when they happen to share it amongst friends, ends up being so wildly different from other beard oils and in such great demand that our protagonist founder has no choice but to bring it to market.
And thus, a baby beard oil company is born.
The homepage of our website, in an effort to distill the story down for those with smaller attention spans, echoes some version of this story, and it’s not entirely untrue. But here’s a little secret: Most people that start beard oil companies don’t do so because they have such exacting standards for their beard oils that could never be met by the current products in the world; they do so because starting a beard product company is not particularly difficult to do.
Take Rory. Rory had grown a beard, and it was finally long enough that he needed to start using a beard balm if he were to continue to be accepted as a member of polite society. While reading about beard balm, he discovered that it actually might be something he could just make himself, but upon reading further, he decided that if he were going to make a balm, he might as well make a really good balm. And if he were going to make a really good balm, he might as well try to sell it at the farmer’s market. And if he were going to sell it at the farmer’s market, why not open it up to anyone with a credit card and an internet connection.
Here’s where the plan broke down a bit.
While Rory remains one of the most prodigious consumers of information I have ever seen, he had nary an Instagram account to his digital presence and felt ill-prepared to take on Big Beard Balm, given his lack of technical proficiency. Because I have a technology background, he thought that three years worth of “Don’t worry about it” when I tried to pay him back for beers and old fashioneds could finally be called in.
As the now co-proprietor of a burgeoning organic beard oil empire, I’m embarrassed to admit that, at the time, I thought working on beard products was a waste of time and had no real desire to engage.
While he couldn’t sell me on the need to bring another beard balm to the market, he could and did sell me on the desire to build a socially conscious company, and I instantly made the connection between beeswax (one of the primary ingredients of his anticipated formula), and bees, who... make beeswax.
Strangely enough, I had recently read an article about the declining bee population, more formally known as colony collapse disorder, and it had become a bit of an obsession. The interesting, albeit morose, idea that I couldn’t get out of my head was that if every human were wiped off the face of the planet tomorrow (stay with me, here), the ecosystem would continue to function smoothly as ever. You do the same to the bees, and you’ve got yourself an ecological disaster, the order of magnitude of which is nearly incalculable.
So it would be good, you could argue, if that didn’t happen.
Before we could save the bees, however, it was imperative that we have something to sell. And while this had started with a mission to make beard balm, we soon realized that more people wanted beard oil than beard balm. Beard balm, you see, is only for the beardiest beards among us. Beard oil, is for everyone. We like everyone.
We went through several iterations of how to get there. We considered white labeling and dropshipping, but we ultimately decided that doing this at all meant doing it in the right way. From there, we decided to focus on organic ingredients, but we soon realized that, in the world of beard oils, “organic” was a gray area. Lots of beard oils claim to be organic but can’t verify their supply chain. This is a problem.
So finally, we ended up where we are now. Focus on sourcing, and focus on being intentional.
Sourcing meant that we wouldn’t use ingredients unless we could point to their source. By source, we mean the farmer. Not the region.
Being intentional meant that every single decision we made would be to improve. It would not be to cut costs. It would not be to make our lives easier. It would be to make the product and the company better. This means that we would find the best ingredients, the best partners, and the best materials. It means that no detail was too small to obsess over in creating the best beard oil. It means that it was time to go to work.
You could say that it was at this point in this company’s journey that we went from having a fun idea for a side project to committing ourselves to 3 years of work before we even launched.
But would we do it again? I’d like to hope so.
Stay tuned for Part 2.