Today we’d like to introduce you to Karl Jackson.
Karl, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
How we got here is part of a two-part journey. The first part started during ‘No Shave November’ several years ago, prior to my moving to Houston. After the month ended, there was no rush to return back to the previous look, so I decided to let it grow for a few more months. Before growing a beard, I always had a chinstrap, mustache, and a long goatee. When I finally decided to get rid of the full beard, I was down in Atlanta. I went over to ‘Atlanta’s Finest Barber Shop’ and asked the owner to thin me back out. He pretty much cursed me out on behalf of himself and all others that struggle to grow a beard. I never attempted to cut it again.
My trip to Atlanta occurred one year after I moved to the Houston area, which brings us to the second part of the journey. This move also brought me two mentors that were VPs at the company that moved me to Houston. I was also reading a lot of different books throughout the years. When we are constantly consuming, the chances of us building anything is slim to none. This is true for business and community. Around this time, I also became aware of the JOBS Act passed by President Obama. This made investing in companies more accessible to everyone, and I was looking for ways to gain an equity stake and not just rely on one stream of income. Also, I was investing in community programs that worked on solutions to problems, which was also draining my pockets.
Meanwhile, I had a good friend back in Indianapolis that was going down a similar path. He had let his beard grow out and was also working with some non-profits around him. While catching up one day, we realized that we were going on a similar journey. We both wanted to help the community and not just continue to throw money at problems without working on the root cause. Also, we were both having a hard time finding quality products for our beards that didn’t leave us dry or itchy. After trading new product finds for over a year, he proposed that we create our own products and I was game. This aligned with the path I was currently on with deciding to become a producer and fulfilled a need in a niche that we were familiar with. The minute I hung up from that call, I started putting a plan together.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
By far, No! “You can’t wait for all the lights to turn green before leaving the house.” Meaning, you can only prepare so much before just taking the chance, then learn as you go. My day job consists of putting together software release schedules and go-to-market strategies with different internal organizations, so planning wasn’t hard. The hardest areas came from not knowing all the processes to consider when launching a business. Sourcing high-quality products and ingredients was a big thing for us. They couldn’t be cheapened and had to be effective. Finding a label design that looked great and was legible took longer than we had anticipated in the schedule and almost delayed our launch date. Business finance wasn’t in our backgrounds either, so that was just another learning curve. Understanding your balance sheet plays a major part in the success of your business. There was also an issue with beard oil leaking during shipment. Luckily, none of our clients were hard on us about the shipping issues and have continued to support us.
Earlier, I mentioned that the company started with me and one of my good friends living in Indianapolis. Being in different locations would allow us to gain brand recognition quicker by working at various local and regional events. Unfortunately, that part never played out. He had a few things going on at the time and wasn’t able to continue to help build the company. But, we have been able to grow with the help of immediate and intermediate family as well as friends. They continue to tell people about us, share our content, help with shipping, purchase for other people they know, and even help think ideas through. We are lucky to have a supportive tribe.
Black Beard Brigade – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Our goal is to promote healthier lifestyles by providing quality products and implementing solutions to strengthen the foundation of each client as well as the community.
For us, consistently getting quality products and great service was hard to come by. So, we started creating our own beard balm, beard butter, face wash, and beard oil, then decided to share them with the world. We carry grooming products that are primarily geared towards the bearded community, but we also have women and children using them as well. Our oil, balm, and butter are excellent for the hair on your head, and the butter can also double as a lotion. The product line also consists of sandalwood combs, horsehair brushes, boar’s hair brushes, and Dopp bags. 100% natural ingredients are used to promote healthy skin and hair. The foundation of our clients.
Our passion for aspiring to help programs in the community allow us to extend our services even further. Portions of our proceeds are invested back into the foundation of the community. This strategy of ‘Impact Investing’ enables us to help strengthen the foundation of the community while touching a greater number of people. We strive to fix the root cause of problems and not provide a temporary fix.
We are known for having great products that work the way our clients require, but another aspect that they love about us is our willingness to educate them. Our ingredients and why they are used is listed on our website along with pictures of those ingredients. People are encouraged to contact us about grooming issues, product feedback, product use, etc. Every Thursday, Health Tip Thursday, our goal is to provide tips that are not just limited to grooming. We’ve covered heart health, diabetes, financial, mental, and various other topics. Some of these in collaboration with experts in their field.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
It always feels great when we get random DMs, texts, or emails from people that we spoke with online or at an event. They tell us how much they appreciated the knowledge we passed to them. Those messages make an impact on days where we feel like we hit a wall. Also, we have people waiting for us to expand our line on the women’s side.
Our metrics are based upon increasing and sustaining our community. We’ve also been vendors at events in different cities and people have come over to say, “I’ve seen your products…”, “I’ve heard about your products…”, “My barber or someone else told me to try your products…” Having a high customer lifetime value as well as obtaining new clients allows us to continue to fulfill our philanthropic mission.
- Beard Oil $9-$18
- Beard Balm $10-$22
- Beard Butter $10-$22
- Face and Beard Wash $9.50-$20
- Combs $8
- Brushes $10
- Website: http://www.blackbeardbrigade.com
- Phone: 3178503151
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/blackbeardbrigade/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlackBeardBrigade/
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/blkbeardbrigade
- Yelp: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCabICEGj2wKnCXxv_qWTPWw?view_as=subscriber
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/blackbeardbrigade/
Quinn Gordon, htxaabloggers