From stubble to success, learn from Eric Bandholdz’s uplifting story of
accomplishment and gain valuable insights on entrepreneurship, drive, and
achievement through his advice.
Discover the key to entrepreneurial success with Heroes of Ecommerce! Join us for a special episode featuring Eric Bandholz, co-founder of the renowned men's grooming company, Beardbrand. Listen in as we discuss his remarkable journey from building the company from scratch to a multi-million-dollar venture through bootstrapping.
Eric Bandholz: My one recommendation for anyone listening who hasn't mastered email yet, is I want you to think about email this way. Your challenge is how do I send as many emails as possible? And the only way you're gonna be able to send a lot of emails is by sending interesting content that brings value to peoples lives.
Voiceover: Welcome to the Heroes of Ecommerce, hosted by Russell Miller of Ryzeo. On this show, we speak to ecommerce business owners and leaders, the unsung heroes, taking their industry by storm. Tune in as we share success stories and discuss ecommerce ideas to take your business to the next level. So let's dive in.
Russell Miller: Welcome to the Heroes of Ecommerce Podcast. I'm Russell Miller, General Manager of Ryzeo and with me today, super, super excited to have Eric Bandholz of Beardbrand.
Eric Bandholz: Hey, what's going on, man?
Russell Miller: Hey. So, yeah, I wanna say yes. Eric, for those of you who have not seen him, he's all over the interwebs. Beardbrand, in like half a decade has grown rapidly to become, the one of the main men's, hair care product, ecommerce stores out there. They have been featured... you know, this is a guy who got his start in the New York Times and then went on to get featured in Shark Tank. Like, how do you, it's crazy.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I get around a little bit.
Russell Miller: And then, you know, our listeners or smaller ecommerce brands trying to you know, make that leap. Get up to 88 miles an hour. So,this will be a great interview to have. So, Eric how did, maybe take us back in time and tell us a little bit about the beginning.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. So we're actually celebrating our 10 year anniversary this year. So, been in the game for a long period of time.
The early days were quite a long period of time ago, but, you know, when we started Beardbrand was and still kind of continues to be almost an extension of myself and kind of selling to myself and making products for things that I like. I used to be a financial advisor in a previous life.
And if you could imagine what a financial advisor looks like I would probably imagine that they don't look very much like this. And I really didn't like, you know, kind of the implied pressure to look a certain way within the corporate environment. So I left working at the bank and kind of started going out on my own.
I grew my beard really long. Was still a business person and people would call me ZZ Top and Duck Dynasty and Grizzly Adams and all the traditional beards you heard 10 years ago. And it was at that point, like I realized, you know, those are cool dudes and they rock cool beards, but it's also not me.
Like I'm kind of like this more professional, urban kind of guy. And ended up going to an event where I started meeting other bearded guys who were kind of, of the similar situation. And I realized there's this whole community of guys who I'd end up calling Urban Beard Smith and wanted to build Beardbrand as a way to serve that audience and help them on their journeys to, you know, obviously to grow their beards out but more than grow their beards out to, to be themselves and to love the person looking back at them in the mirror. And yeah, it's been a fun ride. We're a bootstrap company. Self-funded, no outside money, no debt. But we're still we're actually still a pretty small team and we kind of do things a little bit differently than a lot of companies strive to do in the sense that, yes, we want to grow, but not at the expense of the journey. And we want to enjoy the journey and enjoy what we're doing. And it doesn't take a really big business to really win in life. You know, like you hit $2 million, 3 million revenue depending on how many partners you have, and, you're making six figures and you own your own destiny. So it's like at that point you've won life, so, you know, kind of reminding yourself the wonderful things that we have, especially as we record this around Thanksgiving, just like, the wonderful things that we have in life to be able to run a small business is quite a lovely thing.
Russell Miller: really love that. Listeners, if you leave now, you'll have gotten some major lessons. I think the stuff I heard was just the value of being able to be in business as your authentic self, which I think is huge, for a lot of people.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. Yeah. I mean a lot of you know, it's funny like a lot of people, or I'm gonna speak for myself coz I can't put words into other people's mouths.
But I work coz I want to be free. I want to do things in my own way. I want to dress the way I want to dress. I want to behave the way I want to behave. I want to do the things I want to do. Like, that is a huge draw. Entrepreneurship is a huge draw because I allow myself to do that. However, if you start to set these weird, arbitrary goals of growth or of, you know, product launches or, you know, just doing what your customers ask, then you start to lose sight of that and you no longer become free. You become a product of chasing growth and then you take money because you want to grow and now your investors are, you know, kind of pulling some strings in your business. Or you go into debt. And you have to go and put things on sale to pay off your loans.
You know, like there's a lot of decisions that we've made that might have slowed down our growth, but we did it because it gave us more freedom. And you know, like I get to not feel guilty about going to my daughter's business fair. You know, I get to not feel guilty about coming home.
Now, I like to work, so there's always a challenge between like, I wanna work and I like to work and then also I love my family and I wanna spend time on my family too. So, but I get to decide what that balance is and you know, I think to a certain degree, people or so much of the feeling of entrepreneurship is about grow grow grow, and rah rah rah and, you know, like a 100 million and 50 million and, you know, 200% growth, da da da.
And you lose sight of like, why the hell are you even doing this? And I feel pretty fortunate at 10 years in I'm just as passionate to step into the office as it was on day one.
Russell Miller: That seems to be the notion of passion. And being able to control your own destiny does seem like a huge draw with a lot of our members who are that's a big draw for them, for what got them to start their own ecommerce businesses.
You know, for them you'd probably be someone, you know, it's called Heroes of Ecommerce, coz these are sort of people to look up to. When you were kind of starting out and let's say ramping to like, you know, from zero to a million. Million two million. What was that like? You know, do you remember you know, any big lessons sort of get you to that ramp? Cause I wanna talk about that and then how you got to the next level to where you are now.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, in, in the early days, you know, Beardbrand is my first successful business. I've got a whole litany of failed businesses.
Russell Miller: Actually let me interrupt because I think that's important too, right? This is not like, you know, there's trials and like, practice and stuff. What are some of the things that didn't work?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. So, I'll list off all the projects that I had. I had worked with my dad as an executive recruiter during the 2008, 2009 downturn. And that was a terrible, terrible decision trying to hire people when everyone was firing people. I had this project with one of my buddies where we compared the results of being right next to the results of Google when Bing launched. So it was called Bingle. It was a little side project.
There was no like you know, business behind that, but it was a little side project. I did this final wall graphic business where we'd sell little animals and trees and stuff that you could put on the wall. That was like my first ecommerce business. And I think I had two sales and then I got scared and I didn't buy any ads and didn't grow it.
I wasn't passionate about it. So those were kind of like the major ones that I failed with in the early days. And usually I would describe like, the failure was literally that zero to one. In the early days, so much of it was, you know, get a business license and you know, like, is it LLC or S corp?
You know, like what is the best marketing strategy and you know, what is the funnel that I do? And you know, in hindsight, 20/20, like for anyone who doesn't have a business yet but is thinking about a business, like none of that stuff really matters. What really matters is your ability to kind of tell and your product story to the intended audience. And to do that as frequently as possible in the early days. You can get your business license later, you can pay back taxes if you need to pay back taxes. But if you don't get sales, you can't do any of that. So there, there's no point even like worrying about, you know, what license to get. Eric Bandholz: Now, of course I say this with caveats, if you've got like a food truck and you need like, health licensings and all that, but generally speaking on ecommerce, like just throw some stuff up on Etsy or throw some stuff up on eBay and just get it going because like by default, your business operates as like a, what is it called? Like a personal yeah, just like a DVA or something like that, so, yeah. Yeah.
Russell Miller: But it sounds like you can, it sounds like the key was, like you're talking about your, like all that stuff you can figure out, but the important thing looking back was actually your product story. How do you look at the, you know, with the benefit of hindsight, what do people need to know about like, the importance of a product story?
Eric Bandholz: I think there's a lot of different ways to build a business. So yeah the way that we've chosen to build our business is a lot around storytelling and about lifestyle and about our community and about our customers and proving the way that, that their lives are, you'll see that I've got a flag over here on this side. Keep on growing, you know? And that's really like a driver for us is why we want to do the things that we do. But I say that like not every business has to do it our way. There are businesses where you find like a really cool product on the marketplace. You have it at the right price point with the right features to the people, and then you just list that product on Amazon and sell that product.
So I say this because it's important for you to understand where your skills lie as an entrepreneur and how you build a business around your own skills and your own passions. Because you want to think about entrepreneurship as a never ending series of problems that you have to work to solve. It never ends.
So if you don't like solving problems or you don't like facing problems, entrepreneurship is like the worst project or thing that you could be doing. But if you like solving problems that's how you need to look at it and you're gonna be more energized to solve problems that you are passionate about.
So, because I love storytelling, because I love building a community, because I love, you know, building brands that's a big reason why we went in the direction that we went. But if you're more of a, like a data oriented person, then maybe like finding those data problems and solving those problems through data is gonna be a much better strategy. And when you do that, you want to do it on a platform like Amazon versus having your own website on Shopify or BigCommerce, or whatever.
Russell Miller: Okay, so it's really crucial to find out kind of where your strengths as an entrepreneur lie.
Eric Bandholz: And especially like, if you think about it too, from a marketing perspective, there are so many different channels for you to be able to grow your business.
Like, I was on Reddit in the early days all the time, just sharing our story on Reddit. And that was because I loved being on Reddit. It was easy for me. I understood the culture of Reddit, right? It was great. Same thing with YouTube. I like making videos, but some people aren't video people.
Some people aren't Reddit users. You know, maybe you should be blogging and writing articles. Maybe you should be going to like local farmer's markets and selling your products there. Like if you really love that in-person experience maybe you could be knocking on doors, and like doing it that way.
There's like no right or wrong way to build a business and there's opportunity in all these different channels. You just have to be willing to understand that and then make it work for your business based, you know, the resources that you have available to yourself.
I'm trying to extract the lessons but really like figure out the channels that you as an entrepreneur are really comfortable with personally. And it seems like you chose to become kind of the spokesperson. You were fine with being kind of, you know, front and center as the face of the brand.
How did you figure out about yourself that like you were okay being kind of the storyteller in chief? Was that something you immediately knew? Was that something you had to kind of like, you know, work towards? Coz I'm pretty shy, was not sort of comfortable. It took me a while to kind of get to be like a face, you know?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. I mean, for me, I think it was kinda natural. It's funny we do a quarterly strategy session, my business partners and I. And we were going down memory lane as it's been our 10 year, 10 year anniversary, and we're talking about in one of our early quarterly strategy sessions, the question is, would you rather be rich or famous. And all my business partners said they would rather be rich, and I said, I'd rather be famous. And you know, like in hindsight, you know, maybe that changes now. I'd rather be rich than famous. But I think that the argument is like with fame becomes the ability to create wealth.
But also I do enjoy being in the spotlight. Love being on stage. I love being in front of people. Like it is something that I feel comfortable with. Of course, you mentioned it earlier, I was on Shark Tank, and that's quite a big stage to be on. Spoken at many events and I continue to put myself out there.
SI feel like you know, one of my callings in life is the ability to be vulnerable publicly. And to put, obviously put my good self out there, but to put my not so good self out there with the hope that by being vulnerable, I can find my way of improving. And I feel like the way I communicate and the way I learn is through these conversations, both, you know, in private, but out in the public, you know, like being able to say, having the confidence to be able to say the wrong thing, knowing that the end goal is the truth.
And I think a lot of people are too afraid to say the wrong thing. And subsequently they don't, and then they never learn. They don't know what their beliefs are. There's a lot of great, it's like, there's almost too much to unpack, but like, so you mentioned like being vulnerable in public, which is, you know, a huge thing if you're kind of like building in public and growing in public and just knowing that you are gonna make mistakes, but that's part of the growth process.
Yeah. And I mean, I think it's there's like a internet meme or whatever on Twitter that's like, basically, what's the best way to get a correct answer is by saying the wrong answer. Everyone will correct me . So, so I do a lot of that, you know, you just put stuff out there. You know, the fun thing at being in the business for 15 years and, or excuse me, 10 years. And being really conservative. I've saved up a lot of cash, paid off our house and things like that.
Eric Bandholz: Is, the way I look at things now is like I have the ability to say whatever I want to say. As long as it doesn't cancel me for longer than 15 years. After 15 years, you know, I might kind of be up the creek without the paddle, but I can go about 15 years without, you know, any kind of income or anything like that.
So, my goal is to get that filter up through the rest of my life, and then I can just ultimately say whatever I want.
Russell Miller: Then you're completely done. You've reached the highest level of Twitter.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it is, and that's ultimately, I feel like the goal for a lot of people is to be your authentic self. And you know, I feel very fortunate that my business partners, they know me and they trust me well. And when you're a public face, one of the things that you always worry about is getting and... from you and the fact that, you know, what I do is also a reflection of my business and what my business does.
And if I do or say something wrong, then it could affect my business and my business partners and my team members. So there's a lot of pressure on that, but I have a lot of support from my business partners in the sense that they know me and they're like, dude if people misinterpret you or they think you're saying something wrong or, you know,We'll be fine. We'll overcome it. We'll solve that issue and we'll move forward. So, that was like a really nice thing that my business partners did and really allowed me to feel confident and being able to say the things that I want to say online because I feel like one of my calling in life is that I can handle the pressure and stress that comes from being a public personality more so than other people. And there are people who think like me and it's important to, to share those thoughts.
Russell Miller: That is so interesting. That reminds me of, so I read an interview a long time ago with the band, R E M, with some of the other guys and they were saying, you know, Michael Stipe, the lead singer the guy that comes up with all the lyrics they were really happy for him to be the face.
And so it seems like you and your partners might have the same dynamic where they're fine with you, like, you know, being the front man, and the face of it. And they're very supportive and they know it's a very different skillset and they would rather be doing, you know, kind of more, more backend type stuff.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. Yeah, and I mean, I think the other lesson here is obviously Beardbrand has public persona of the founder. But not every company needs to have that. Like if you're not comfortable in the limelight, nor are your business partners, you don't need that. We also have other personalities within the company that kind of represent the brand that aren't founders.
So there is a little bit of insurance in the event that, you know, if I need a step down or I need additional privacy or whatever, that we kind of still have that exposure to people who represent the brand. But, I think it's, when you do the things that you enjoy doing, it's a lot easier.
And it's a lot more sustainable to, to build a long-lasting brand.
Russell Miller: I'll finish up this part by saying, this also reminds me of Jim Collins and who's a famous business book author. One of his lessons was getting people in the right seats on the bus. And, you know, figuring out what each person's sort of skillset was and making sure that they're in a place where they can kind of flourish.
Let's talk about, maybe the second part is like, imagine you've been going for a couple years. You're at the, you know, maybe like one, two million-ish in revenue and you're start to think about growing the business. What are some of the changes you had to make to kind of get bigger and to sort of, or was it more of just a steady path, but were there any kind of inflection points when you think back?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. I would say the biggest issue that we had in our growth around that stage was in building the team out. It's kind of at the point where you need to start thinking about hiring. A lot of people can get lucky and maybe their first hire is their spouse or their best friend or something and those work pretty well.
But for us we brought on team members and in the early days our hiring process was was dismal, the way to describe it. It was just I feel like I put the company back probably 18 months by making some wrong hires. . And we spent a lot of brain energy figuring out how we can hire the right people and make sure that...
Russell Miller: Okay, that sounds super interesting because I think that is probably something that a lot of our, a lot of our listeners have faced. How did your hiring or interview process evolve.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, so in the early days was we'd put something out on Craigslist coz we didn't have any money to do like a proper job listing.
And then we would we'd just be like, ah, that, that looks pretty good. And if they don't fit or they don't work out, we can always fire 'em, which is like, probably the worst mentality you could have when trying to build a team out. And you know, at the time when you're growing really rapidly or growing and you have a lot of fires to put out, like you just you feel like you just need to get people in there to help fix things. But the reality is it's far more important for you to spend the time and energy and efforts to get the right person in. So the whole trip of, you know, hire slow, fire fast is as true as it gets. And it, you don't hire slow in the sense that you take your time doing it, you hire slow in the sunset, you're thorough and you really have a strong understanding of how this candidate is gonna perform for your company and you know that they're gonna be, you can feel pretty confident that they're gonna be a good fit for the organization. Because there's a ton of really talented people who will suck at your company. Just based on kind of your management style. So the reality is you need to find the people who are awesome and also awesome at your company.
And the way we did that is we have like a nine step process. Process for bringing on team members. And step number one is basically you need to create the most compelling job process you can and get it in front of the appropriate candidates and, that is because you just want as many candidates to choose from.
We have a early filtering process where we request a cover letter and for them to send their Myers Briggs personality, which is like just a little bit of work to kind of, of people. It's like, why are you gonna apply for a job and not even put a cover letter or, you know, do this one little ask. Some people do it by listing it in the job description, like, Hey, to apply for this job descriptionalso email this or, you know, there's a lot of different ways to kind of screen for that.
And then we set the tone early on with what we call our core values email, we send it out and ask them to write back with what our core values, freedom, hunger, and trust mean to them. And the purpose of this is one to see how well they communicate especially online and through email, which is the primary communication platform, and what the core values are about. So we are a very like, core values and mission oriented organization. Then from there I do a...
Russell Miller: I wanna pause here just coz we're a lot of great stuff. So that seems like a takeaway. Guys, if you have not guys, gals figure out what are the core values of your brand, and then consider putting that into your interview process of like asking people to talk about that. Not only do you get a great writing sample, but you get an instant like test of alignment around the things that you consider very important.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. And for us, you know, core values have been a great like, decision making foundation where it's like, where, when, or where we need to make a decision.
We say, how does this align with our core values? You know, if it's finding a vendor or changing vendors or pulling products, and you know, like how does it affect trust and how does it affect hunger and freedom and things like that.
Russell Miller: So, so it's not just like a thing, it's not just a poster on a wall. This is something that you're, it's like helping you steer.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. And also how we kind of evaluate our team members and do they represent those core values as well on a quarterly basis when we do our quarterly strategy session. So it is very much like ingrained in our company's DNA.
Russell Miller: And so when you're sending these out to candidates, you know, there's probably a filtering thing that they're going through where they're saying, oh, you know, right at the beginning someone, someone's like, Hey, maybe hunger isn't my core value. I'm outta here. Maybe that's a good thing, you know?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. It's a very open-ended question, so you see like a lot of responses. There's you know, we're in the product space and my experience is like if you ever source anything from China, the samples that you get from China are gonna be an example of the best quality you can get. So if there's any kind of red flags with a sample, it's not gonna get any better when you replace 5,000 units of it.
And if anything it's kind like going to go down. And I kind of feel like that analogy is really true for job candidates. You're gonna get your best example of their work when they're applying for a job, when they're writing the cover letter all this. And it's only going to go down from there.
So if they're having typos and grammatical mistakes and they can't really cohesively and coherently describe things, then it's probably that's it for communication that when you work with them, and I feel like for an ecommerce business, like communication and online communication is just crucial.
It's in marketing, it's in operations. As you deal with vendors, everything's done through email. And if you can't communicate well, I would almost screen for like communication abilities. One of the highest skill sets for the candidates you should be looking for. So much gets lost in translation when you can't communicate well.
Russell Miller: That's interesting because like, it's a soft skill, right? It's not like how well do you know Shopify or Excel or whatever. It's more like how well do you communicate. What is that saying that, yeah.
Eric Bandholz: Well, I think the assumption is that everyone can just communicate well, but the reality is people can't, like there's just some people who don't understand, they can't interpret what you're saying well, or they can't, you know, communicate what's in their mind well.
Russell Miller: I've started to really prioritize that now, you know, obviously we're a software company, but a lot of the issues around that, like, you know, post pandemic were virtual first, virtual only. And so a lot of that is, you know, being really responsive on like Slack and Zoom.
And then we're using our, you know, internal communications tools for like project management and and stuff like that. How when you're talking to new candidates about communications for Beardbrand, what are like the important things for you guys?
For me and how I communicate, as someone who's like, kind I'm unofficially dyslexic, you know, self-diagnosis, dyslexic. If they can't format paragraphs and have, you know, communication in a way that is like readable to me. Then that's usually kind of a red flag for me.
Eric Bandholz: And yeah, and you can see it too, like the people who have their acts together will be like freedom title and then a chunk of what this is. And then there's people who will just like run it all into one giant paragraph. And then there are people like, you know, so it's just like how well do they display the communication style and you know, I'm less, I don't know I'm a little bit of a stickler for grammar, you know?
But more like, for me it's kind of like the storytelling and like, is this like a conveying a clear message that is interesting? Like, is it interesting to read what they're saying? If it's not interesting to read, then that's probably... So this reminds me a lot of like, Jeff Bezos and Amazon for you guys.
Russell Miller: You know, they're looking for business books. I read the Amazon Way recently, which is, you know, at the Amazon meetings they don't do PowerPoint. PowerPoint is outlawed, and whenever they have a discussion topic, they're actually coming in and whoever is leading is actually sending out ahead of the meeting, like a one or two page typed memo.
And then everybody just dispenses the first five or 10 minutes literally reading through that. So it's like a big emphasis on being able to communicate clearly and also storytelling.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. Yeah. The other thing we do in that process is another mini skills test, which is a one minute typing test.
Oh, interesting. That's a pretty good indicator. To show their competency on desktop computers. You get someone who's you know, it's not always like relevant to the job. Obviously like if you're doing fulfillment or whatever, you don't really need to lean too heavily on that. But if it's customer experience, like you're gonna get more output and productivity from someone who can type quickly than you are going to get from somebody who can type it 30 words per minute or whatever.
Russell Miller: Yeah. So just the basics, like how fast how fast can they type, probably, maybe how fast can they read. So that’s super interesting. And are you guys, do you guys have a physical office that people go into or are you.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. Yeah. So I’ve got a recording here in the studio, and then I’ve got a barbershop right over there.
And we have our team come in. So, yeah, so I mean, going back to the job hiring process. So yeah, we do that online. Core values email. Then after that I do my phone screening. We’re kind of talking about the basics the way we set our compensation as we pay 75th percentile for market rates.
We use a tool called Pay Scale for that. And so we feel pretty confident that we’re competitive in the marketplace. Yeah, there’s gonna be 25 companies that pay more than us, but there’s gonna be 74 that pay less than us. And so in this screening call, I essentially tell ’em upfront, I said, there’s gonna be no negotiation for the salary at the end of it. So if this compensation is not good for you, let me know now and then we’ll save each other a lot of headaches. So the whole point of the phone screening thing is like, here the red flags like here, you have to come into the office and work outta the office. It’s non-negotiable. If that’s an issue for you, let me know.
And we’re not gonna like, it’s funny though because like everyone always says, that’s no issue and they’re still interested in the job, and then I’ll follow up with ’em and no reply. So it’s just people do have a really hard time like saying no. But you also kind of get a really good gauge of kind of, And again, their communication style and you know, their understanding of the job.
Eric Bandholz: And so I’ll do that screening interview, if that looks good, we’ll bring ’em into the office and we’ll do a skills test. Depends on the job they’re applying for, what that skills test looks like. But we’ll literally watch ’em work, see how they work, make sure they have the skills for the job.
If they have that skills test passed, then we do what’s called a top grading interview.Top grading, basically you ask them questions in the frame of how their supervisor would respond to their roles in their previous jobs. And then you tell them that, so like the way I’d phrase a question is when we call up your supervisor, how are they going to describe you? Is like in a question.
What we do is we tell ’em we’re gonna call the supervisor and verify all this information. So, basically it’s a really good truth serum to first of all put them out of their own shoes, where they always just, oh yeah, my, my problem is I work too hard, or I’m too efficient, or whatever, you know, like, and then the, and it’s like, well, this is like, what is your supervisor actually gonna say and make sure that you know, they’re not pulling your leg.
Eric Bandholz: And that’s been a really good processto be able to catch any kind of trends in their work patterns because you’re asking the same questions for the previous three jobs. So, and one of the questions is like, what can your supervisor do to improve? And if they’re like, well, this supervisor was a bad communicator and this supervisor was a bad communicator, and this supervisor was a bad communicator, and it probably wasn’t the supervisor, it’s probably the candidate who’s not a good communicator. So you’re trying to find any kind of those patterns. coz generally past performance is indicative of future performance when it comes to team members. And then if that all goes well, we actually do reference checks and verify that information. And then if that goes well, we make an offer that we know they’ll accept because because of that phone screen that we did early on.
Russell Miller: Now that is very thorough. And what has, you know, since you put that in versus like, you know, way back when you put the Craigslist. Have you seen that pay off in terms of your retention and how long on average, like each employee is with the company?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. I would say, you know, you’re never gonna get a hundred percent hit, right?So we feel pretty confident. I would also say, one of the caveats of hiring is, you know, the mentality is like anyone you hire, you have to be incredibly excited for them to start working . And that you can’t imagine how the business would operate without ’em. Like, you’re just so jazzed up, never be like, ah, yeah, we need to bring ’em in.
Eric Bandholz: But you know, like this one thing about them I’m not really sure about, like if you have any kind of those reservations before hiring, pass on it. Because wasting three months to find out what you already knew. And then you have to let ’em go. You’re just wasting resources. So continue that job search, making sure you really find that right candidate and only moving forward with them.
And then for us, like our right now our youngest tenure employee is at three years. So we have team members who really enjoy working here because they know what it’s gonna be about. They know what our core values are, they know how the culture is here. We set those expectations so they’re not just taking the job coz they need the money.
And then they, you know, they enjoy working here, so been pretty good. Of course we’ve had to let people go over time as well, and sometimes we’ve let good people go because you know, the business is not doing as well as we want the business to do and we have to maintain our sustainability and profitability for the company.
We’re also, everyone loses their job. So that’s how it goes. Yeah. Yeah. It’s, yeah, it’s, I mean, and then I wanna, I want to just love working with the people here at Beard Print. So, yeah. You do that by having people who, you know, align with your core values and, you know, they’re fun to work with. coz like, I feel like that’s one of the best gifts that you can have, is just a group of people who really work well together.
Russell Miller: I think that is huge. Especially for, you know, if you’re an a thousand person company, doesn’t matter as much if you’re at a 20 person company. Like this is the majority of your waking hours. Right. So you should really like, you know, the people that you know, that you’ve chosen to have around you.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. And the whole, like one bad apple spoils a bunch is true. You like you do get some of these saboteurs within an organization from time to time. So you have to be aware of that. You know, kind of the gossip circles.
Russell Miller: So, so looking at the past year and kind of what’s coming up, what have you been most excited about? What have you been you know, focused on, or what’s, like, what’s jazzed you about the business recently?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. I mean, this is our 10 year anniversary, so, we use this time to kind of reflect where we’ve been and where we’re going. And we’ve repackaged all of our products we’ve switched from plastic and glass packaging to aluminum packing.
Russell Miller: Oh, interesting. And is that like more, was, what was the thought behind that?
Eric Bandholz: You know, a lot of, it’s going back to the word sustainability, you know, using packaging that’s more sustainable for the consumer. And also kind of like me from a brand perspective, I wanted something a little bit cooler. We’ve had our old packaging for 10 years or nine years, and I just wanted something like, a lot of people have copied us and the packaging is not as unique as it once was. And I wanted, I always like being the leader in the space and doing things that other people aren’t doing. And not a lot of brands have gone aluminum and I think we did aluminum in a really cool way.
Russell Miller: Wait, do we have any, I don’t wanna put you on the spot, but is there any
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. I mean, like, so this is. It’s gonna be too blown out, isn’t it?
Russell Miller: Oh yeah, now it came up. It came up. Oh yeah. Yeah. That’s nice.
Eric Bandholz: Let’s see here. This is like,
Russell Miller: Back up a little bit. That was, oh, okay. So, so for the listeners, coz it’s gonna be on Spotify too, these are really nice, like highly polished tins.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. And so those are the tins. And then like our this is our utility oil.
Russell Miller: Oh, and it’s a very like, like polished industrial with like a geometric kind of side decoration.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. So, and the way that I describe it is I want to do a retro dystopian kind of like brutalism to it. So like, think Blade Runner. Kind like a lot of those neons and a lot of like that concrete and you know, the art, the cool thing about aluminum is like, it dents up.
So like, it kind of like patinas in its own unique way and builds its own little character like used in the product. And what we’ve been photographing it with a lot of neon accents. So the packaging itself, is not too gimmicky. It can kind stand alone by itself.
But when we pair together with like, the concrete and the, you know, the organic colors that we have, like a lot of beiges and then just like little hints and pops of neon throughout. So if you go to beardbrand.com, you can kind of see that. So we relaunched the website in June of this year, and then we’re rolling out the new photography and the new packaging, and it’ll all be done on Cyber Monday for the most part.
So it’s been a big project we’re working on. And then like in, you know, continuing to push the new packaging out there and bringing in customers as well as getting back into Europe and getting back onto Amazon are kind of two big initiatives for us in 2023.
Russell Miller: Back into Amazon. And the photography you guys are creating all the photography and stuff in-house.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, my art director, she handles photography and packaging. She’s the one who’s responsible for designing the labels and
Russell Miller: I love that. So yeah, I think having a very distinctive visual look as a brand is like a huge asset. On that note.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. It’s hard. It’s hard. It’s really hard.
Russell Miller: Who do you look at for inspiration? Like other, like ecommerce brands you’re like, that you sort of measure yourself by?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. You know, it’s, it is kind of hard. I feel like I, if anything I probably look outside of ecommerce for inspiration. You know, like our current packaging was more inspired by Blade Runner, the movie or cyberpunk the video game or cyber truck. Andthe cars like those are kind of like the inspirations for me. So it’s being able to take things outside of what your competitors are doing and outside of what’s going on in the industry.
And for me, I find joy in. You know, it is funny, I had kind of this argument with a consultant we were working with when it came to our YouTube content. And, my strategy is like, come up with a cool, interesting idea that’s not being done and then try to do it and hopefully it sticks.
And then if it doesn’t stick, kill it and try something else. Whereas, their strategy was to analyze what is being popular on YouTube and then recreate that, but at a better way. And for me, like just this idea of just following other people and chasing trends just seems like the worst frigging thing you could ask me to do.
Like, I just, I have no desire at all to be a number two in the marketplace? I have no desire at all to win through like efficiencies or optimization. I want to win through innovation and creativity. And you know, that means you’re gonna throw a lot of balls and miss a lot, right? But yeah, when you hit a strike, you’re gonna be the one who’s kind of leading the charge. And there’s a lot of opportunity to be a first mover. But it’s hard. It’s hard.
Russell Miller: But it’s hard, right? Yeah. You have to embrace, this is kind of a lean startup thing where you really have to embrace it. Like, you know, a lot of the pitches you’re gonna throw are gonna miss, and that’s just part of the game.
And then when you find one that you know, does hit you, you kind of double down and you push a lot of like, you know, marketing behind it. And, but then it distinguishes you cause no one else is doing that thing. That’s actually a great transition. Yeah.
Eric Bandholz: Consumers see that and understand that and reward you with that. You know, you never know. You never know, though.
Russell Miller: People are attracted to like distinctness, especially in a crowded market.
Russell Miller: So I wanted to end by talking a little bit, so we’re, you know, Ryzeo is like an email marketing company, so I like to ask guests, like, how did they approach, you know, email. Whether it’s like automations or campaign emails or just, you know, what are your thoughts on email, I guess.
I don’t think you’re gonna function effectively without investing heavily into email. Email is a big part of what we do. In fact we use Klaviyo and I went up to Boston to interview the founder of Klaviyo on my podcast. Just a couple weeks ago.
So if you join our newsletter, you’ll notice we’ve got a lot of flows about like, education into beard care, style care, and hair care. And less about like, oh, here’s a promo, here’s a promo, here’s a promo. So we tend not to, you know, do a lot of promotional things.
Eric Bandholz: We do lean on you know, things that align with our mission and our tagline, keep on growing. We’ll just sometimes we’ll just send out an email that says nothing more than you’re awesome. Just like a really reminder, just like, help people love the person in the mirror.
A lot of segmentation. I also like to kick people out of the newsletter a lot if they’re not engaged with the newsletter, you don’t get the emails, so try to keep that list pretty healthy.
Russell Miller: So that’s super interesting is really focusing on education. And I’ve been talking a lot with our customers about that because I think long term it builds up loyalty. You know, the customers feel like they’re really, it’s like a longer term relationship and they’re like more invested and they. You’re showing them how to use your products, which is helping them achieve their goal, which is not necessarily like to buy the beard oil, but to like, you know, achieve whatever they’re trying to achieve.
Eric Bandholz: Well, my one recommendation for anyone listening who hasn’t mastered email yet is I want you to think about email this way.
Your challenge is how do I send as many emails as possible. And the only way you’re gonna be able to send a lot of emails is by sending interesting content that brings value to people’s lives. And you think about it, there are like the newsletter, the Hustle, they’ve got millions of subscribers and they have very interesting emails that people are excited to get on a regular basis. You need to think about creating that kind of content that people are excited to receive your emails in their inbox. You’re not gonna be able to send, you know, five emails a week being like, Hey, this is on sale for 20% off. Hey, this is on sale for 20% off. You know, like people are gonna get tired of that. So when you reallocate your frame to, how do I send as much content as possible, it forces you to think about creating content in an interesting way that people are gonna be excited to open it up.
Russell Miller: Okay. Wow, that’s huge. I really want to call that out. I think that is a fantastic lesson. Do you guys do all your stuff in house? Do you have an agency? How do you kind of approach it?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. When we get our initial automation setup through Klaviyo, we worked with a firm to help us with that. And then we’ve since hired a full-time copywriter who handles our blog and our emails and we do that in-house.
Russell Miller: And then he maintains the automations as well.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. Yeah. Keeps it up to date. And of course we had to change all of our branding design this year as wechanged our brand. So it was a lot of, you know, we have a lot of flows that we’ve set up over the years that. They’ve gone through and change that. So it’s been a lot of work keeping it fresh.
And I think that’s the other reminder too, is like you need to audit your flows on a regular basis coz they get outdated, products change, features change, so there’s a lot of work in email as well.
Russell Miller: Was there anything that surprised you on the flows? Like, oh, our welcome flow is like the big earner or just anything else from the last time you kind of have like audited.
Eric Bandholz: No, mean, I think for us a couple of interesting ones that perform well are like really simple, like the branded ones where we just literally have a photograph that says you’re awesome, and nothing else. Like, that’s all it is. That one performs pretty well. And then we also do like, five things we’ve seen around where it’s like things that we think are cool and we’re just promoting other companies.
Russell Miller: Oh, that’s cool. You’re like, you know what? We’re just gonna spread the love this time.
Yeah. Like, this is things that we find cool at Beardbrand and they’re new and maybe you might find them cool as well. That also seems to do pretty well for us.
Russell Miller: Wow. Okay. So let me. This has been amazing, so let me wrap it here. So, you guys have been listening to Eric Bandholz of Beardbrand. You can find them on beardbrand.com as well as I assume YouTube and Facebook and the other social media outlets. Is there anything else you wanna say about stuff that’s coming up that people should should be on the lookout for?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I mean, I, I don’t know when this is going live, but my recommendation has always been just do yourself a favor and order from Beardbrand.
You’re gonna see how we package things differently. You’re gonna see what our email communication looks like. Feel free to test our customer experience. We have style consultants where you can text us and send us photographs and we’ll literally tell you what kind of haircut or beard style you should grow out based on how your hair patterns grow in. Or they’ll even help with your style, the clothes you wear.
So, we go above and beyond anything that you’ll ever see on Amazon and you’ll get some great products from it too. Like our products don’t know if you if you’re a man or a woman. So, there’s products. It doesn’t matter if you got a beard or not, there’s gonna be products there for you.
Russell Miller: Awesome. Okay, so Eric, thank you so much.
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For even more insights, visit our website at ryzeo.com where we share resources on email marketing that grows sales. Until next time, happy marketing.