Small Business Interview: Josh and Matt, Brickell Men’s Products
Tell us a bit about your business.
Brickell Men’s Products sells luxury skin care and grooming products for men – hair care, skin care, anti-aging, body grooming and shave products. Our products use natural and organic ingredients. They are sold in more than 20 countries, have received major press – from GQ and Men’s Health, among others – and are sold in high-end shops and department stores like Bloomingdale’s.
The company was founded in mid-2014 by myself and my business partner, Matt Bolduc. We are based out of Miami, FL, and South Portland, ME. I run the sales and marketing, while Matt runs operations.
How did you come up with your business idea?
A few years ago, my girlfriend at the time was making fun of my wrinkles. I decided I should start taking better care of my skin. So I started doing some research and checking out my options, but none of the brands resonated with me. I was looking for a high-quality, luxury brand that would help me take better care of my skin – but only with natural ingredients.
While investigating one of the ingredients used by a brand I was considering, I read a study showing that this same ingredient was responsible for shrinking the testicles of laboratory mice! That was horrifying. I knew I couldn’t possibly be alone – that other guys like me were looking for the same type of natural products for the same reasons.
That got me interested in the men’s grooming industry. When I realized it was the fastest growing segment of the beauty industry, I knew there was potential to build a successful business around this idea. I contacted Matt and told him what I had been thinking. After doing his own research, he agreed. Together we took advantage of the opportunity we saw and dove into the market.
What are your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?
Matt and I had both run companies together, so we had a pretty good core of entrepreneurial skills to start with. However, this was much different than other companies we had built – I was in finance/tech and he was in the paper industry.
I had to learn how to sell. I never had been in a sales position before and developing those skills comes with a huge learning curve. It was tough mentally and emotionally, but I strongly believe having the ability to sell – whatever it may be: yourself, a product, etc. – is one of the most valuable skills a person can have. For Matt, he had to learn how to create a manufacturing environment – including how to bottle, label, buy machinery, fulfill orders, etc. It’s a huge 180 from what he used to do sitting at a desk job all day.
How did you overcome financial challenges without any outside funding?
Matt and I lived below our means while starting the company. We took our extra savings and our salaries and invested it all into the company. We didn’t pay ourselves until 2.5 years in. Even then, the amount we started taking on a monthly basis was below the poverty-level salary.
Also, when we started we were upfront with suppliers. We explained that we needed time to pay. Usually someone is happy to extend credit if they perceive you’re legitimate. They’d rather get a sale than miss out.
What would you say are some of the biggest challenges that hold people back from taking the leap into entrepreneurship?
Themselves. They come up with all kinds of reasons why they can’t do something – no time, no money, no resources. If you want something bad enough, you can figure out how to do it. Also, being afraid to fail – whether mentally, emotionally or financially. Starting a business requires being rejected in many ways. After a while, though, you get used to it and realize it just comes with the territory.
What made you both decide to take the leap?
Our due diligence into the market’s need for a high-end men’s skin care company. And the fact we both really did not want to work for someone else anymore.
During your business’ journey, which of your accomplishments has made you proudest?
Creating a sustainable, profitable company that allows us to live out our desired lifestyles. Not having to deal with a boss or a job is such a freeing experience. We’d rather work 16-hour days seven days a week than eight hours a day five days a week for someone else.
From where do you draw inspiration to further expand your business?
Competition, customers and internal motivation. We see larger brands that have been around for decades and think, “We should be as big as them.” And we make plans to achieve it.
Our customers are always asking for new products, so that drives us to come out with fresh ideas and improve our formulas. I also am a strong believer in setting goals. So we have yearly goals for our company, which of course are always set for us to be much larger than the previous year.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned when starting and running your business that you’d like to share with other current and aspiring business owners?
Persist. Keep going past the “No’s” until you achieve a “Yes”. Continue to overcome hurdle after hurdle. In the beginning, it will feel like the world is out to make sure you don’t succeed. Every entrepreneur feels this and it’s natural. Just keep going until you reach your goal. Understand it will not be easy and will probably take much longer than you anticipate.