Organic Beard Co is a member of that exciting and wondrous artisan entrepreneur community, where worldwide independent, design-led businesses are going their own way. Shunning the mass produced and corporate, these creative start-ups are producing products and services that they are truly passionate about…and they’re taking them global.
Founded by the bearded South African, Paul Wagenaar, Organic Beard Co was launched in response to the dearth of premium, natural beard oils in his home city, Dubai. Made Journal spoke to Paul about his beard oils and life as a creative entrepreneur.
Tell us a little about yourself and Organic Beard Co?
Organic Beard Co. is a Dubai based startup. Our mission is to create top tier beard grooming products using 100% organic and natural ingredients. Our ingredients are globally sourced from people, who share our ethos of organic and sustainable farming. I’m from Johannesburg, South Africa. Until about a year ago I was working in the financial industry here in Dubai – for the last 15 years I have been working for either a bank or a consulting firm in various countries including South Africa, Australia and England.
What was your inspiration behind launching the company?
I decided to grow my beard. The first week is always great but then the itching starts. I tried growing a beard a few times before and would end up shaving but this time my girlfriend swayed me against it. This made me go out and look for products that would help ease the itchiness but I couldn’t find anything in Dubai. I remember coming home that day and saying that I should do something about that.
As the name suggests, you focus on organic products, why was this important for you?
A lot of people think that organic is a trend. It’s a lot more than that. For me it’s a question of information. I believe if you’re a conscious human and you’re made aware of the information i.e. you become aware of the chemicals used in beauty products, or the chemicals used to grow that perfectly round apple for your local supermarket, or you become aware of the cruel practices applied in factory farming, then you have to change course and make more informed choices.
Where do you sell your beard oils?
We are currently stocked in a few Dubai based barbers and we also sell online via our web store.
How have you found the challenge of accessing international markets?
It’s huge and I haven’t even really started. My strategy for international markets are three pronged. Firstly I am targeting select barbers by using brand ambassadors in various international locations. Secondly, I’m targeting bigger transactions with department stores and then lastly I’m making the global market aware of my web store via social media.
What does a typical day at work involve for you? Are you home or studio based?
Right in the beginning when I was setting up the business I was working from home. Initially this was ok but it soon became an untenable situation because my life basically consisted of sleeping, eating and working, all in the same space (and by space I mean 1 bedroom apartment). This had to change. I started sharing a space with other like-minded entrepreneurs and this move immediately paid benefits in terms of new creative ideas, new contacts and distance (not just physical) between home and work. In terms of a typical day, the only typical thing is coffee. The rest of the day is really open depending on what’s on my list of things to get done. For me this is one of the best things about being a business owner. No two days are the same and coming from a Corporate desk job, this is gold.
The artisan entrepreneur community seems very collaborative. Is that your experience?
Yes…we’re all in more or less the same boat. If it wasn’t for my personal collaborative experiences, especially the ones with the crowd I share a space with, my business would not be where it is today.
What’s next for Organic Beard Co?
Now that I have a product that I believe in, my focus for the next six months will be on growth. Growing my distribution network, growing web store sales, expanding social media coverage and developing new products.
Portrait photographs by Sandra Tinari / All other photography via Organic Beard Co