I don't know about you, but I'm not much of a fan of checking my email inbox. My inbox is typically jam-packed full of stuff that needs my attention, which typically takes me away from working with our team to support you and that glorious beard.
Therefore, I typically post-pone checking it for as long as I can (not a good strategy). It's rare I get an email that gets me excited, but a few days ago one definitely did!
As I was skimming my inbox, I saw an email from Shopify with the subject line, "Shopify Studios is casting merchants for a new documentary series!"
Here's the email they sent:
My first thought was when the heck did Shopify (the software company we use to run our website) create Shopify Studios. My second thought was, how the heck do we get them to make a documentary about this brotherhood we are building!
A Live Bearded Documentary, now that sounds like something we might be interested in. I clicked the "Apply" button and looked at their application process. It was straight-forward, a series of questions asking us about our business, who we are, and why we do what we do.
After taking a couple minutes to think about it, I decided it was a no-brainer and I scheduled some time to sit down and fill out the application. A few days later, I came back to the application and spent a few hours writing and refining our responses as well as recording an application video per Shopify's request.
As I reviewed everything prior to submitting the application, I felt like it would be awesome to share our answers and give you a behind the scenes look into what we do.
If you've followed us for any length of time, you know we started Live Bearded because we wanted to build a brotherhood of men who are there to support, encourage and hold each other accountable to be the best men we can be, but as we've grown, that idea has grown and taken on a life of its own!
Here are the questions they asked, our answers and an in-depth, behind the scenes look into what we are doing and where we are going.
Why did you start your business? What was the inspiration? What was the goal?
We started live bearded because myself (Anthony) and my co-founder Spencer have been best friends since 2006 and over the years of our friendship as our careers and life took us in very different directions, we always made time to get together, hang out, and after all the shenanigans were finished, we would always end up talking about how fun it would be to work together on project one day.
Then at the end of 2015, we were both growing out our beards and going through some major life & career changes and the idea of starting our own beard company came up. It was actually Spencer who first mentioned it. He tried several different products and wasn't satisfied with anything on the market, felt the buying process was over complicated and the customer experience was lacking. So in Jan 2016 we began doing some initial market testing and when those tests went well, we made the decision to go all in and start Live Bearded together.
The inspiration for Live Bearded was simple, create a company that was based on the values of the friendship and brotherhood we had shared over the previous 10 years. We wanted to build a company that treated every customer like they were a brother, by putting our customers ahead of profits and making customer service and high-quality products our top priorities.
Our original goal was (and is) to create an extraordinary buying experience and to put our customers first in everything we do. From free shipping to our lifetime warranty, every policy at Live Bearded was/is created with the customer experience in mind. In addition to that, we decided very early on we wanted to build a culture, brotherhood, and community that truly supported one another.
We didn’t want to be just another “product” company that sells stuff, anyone can do that! We wanted to truly connect with as many of our customers as possible and build a strong relationship so that we can find ways to support each other beyond the beard.
In the world we live in today, there is so much negativity, and we wanted Live Bearded to be a light, a place where brothers can go to be supported, feel encouraged and held account to be the best men they can be.
This is central to everything we do at LB, and we work daily to love on and support our community while holding each other accountable to "Do Better" today than yesterday.
Can you tell us about your business, and what makes it unique or interesting?
As I mentioned above, everything we do at Live Bearded is based on the values of brotherhood and for us, this means putting our customers first in everything we do.
We currently have a team of 8 and to date, every single person who we’ve hired has been a customer, or brother first! In fact, every time we have had a job opening, we have ONLY recruited and hired from our internal customer list and social media following. We have created a culture and brotherhood so strong, that customers love our products and many want to come work with us!
With everything we do, we prioritize finding ways to add value and to build friendship before business. Take one look at our FB page, watch a FB Live or any of our team retreat videos and you will see we are just regular dudes who have a passion for business, beards, and brotherhood.
While thinking about this question, it honestly felt bias to sit here and tell you what makes us “unique or interesting” and since everything we do is build around our customers, I posted a message in our FB group and asked our customers to answer this question for you.
We received DOZENS of videos in just 24 hours. Here is a small portion of those videos...
I’d also encourage you to check out some of our other videos listed below, our reviews page, about us and one article we wrote titled “We are not a beard company” as this will demonstrate what truly makes us unique and interesting.
What problem does your business solve? Why is this important?
At a basic level, the primary problem we solve is beard grooming and beard care challenges. We have an outstanding line of beard grooming products that help our customers grow and maintain a healthier, better-looking beard, which leads to them looking and feeling better about themselves.
Beyond just the beard, Our tagline is, “We help beardsmen look, feel and be their best,” and that’s the real problem we are working to solve. It starts with the beard and loving the way it looks. This leads to feeling great about themselves, improved confidence and a sense of purpose which leads to them going out into the world and being their best.
Whether it's as a husband, father, brother, co-worker, employee, employer, etc. When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you do good. We are providing a sense of community, connection, and support among men and we believe this is absolutely critical to our culture and society today.
This is critically important because with so much negativity and shit in the world today, we need more heart-centered, balanced, present and confident men who want to support one another through all areas of life, and be leaders for their families and communities.
Does your business have a social or humanitarian element to it? What kind of impact are you trying to make?
Our primary social or humanitarian effort has been to find new ways to connect brothers and support one another like we’ve mentioned before. One thing that is we see often is men who are deeply struggling and are on the verge of suicide.
Over the last 2 years, there have been at least a dozen customers who have posted in our community about suicidal thoughts, one even posted a picture with a gun to his head. I’m humbled to say, because of the support of our community, and this brotherhood, help has been offered, brothers have been supported and not one that I know of has been lost with our collective love, outreach, and support.
We are actively working to create the “Brotherhood Foundation” which will be a charitable arm of Live Bearded that focuses on supporting brothers in tough times like this, as well as working with veterans and children in need.
Beyond this, we have worked with a few organization when we have felt called to. In November 2016, we worked with FeedABillion.org to raise 55,000 meals for families in the USA during the holidays. Our 55,000 meals were matched by Tony Robbins and which lead to Live Bearded being directly responsible for feeding 110,000 families during the 2016 holidays.
We have also worked with Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) which is an organization that helps free young women and children form sex trafficking. We helped sponsor a mission in 2017 and the end result was 34 girls age 12-16 being rescued from sex slavery. As we continue to grow, we will continue to look for opportunities like these to support.
Can you walk us through some of the challenges you're currently dealing with? What is making success difficult?
As a self-funded company, our current challenges revolve around growth constraints, cash flow, and bandwidth. Without a doubt, our biggest challenge to date has been inventory management and financing. From Jan 2017 to March 2018 we grew at an average of 12% per month and were constantly struggling to keep inventory in stock.
Although we have grown at a steady pace, our inventory challenges have really limited our ability to grow faster and we have had to be very conservative with ad campaigns and customer acquisition channels so we can continue to fund our inventory. We have a growing LTV and could afford to spend more on acquisition than we currently are, however, due to cash flow constraints with inventory, we have to limit our CPA costs to sustain our inventory needs.
The inventory tail in the physical product space is always difficult when you are a self-funded company so we have had to be very frugal as a company which means as owners, we are taking the smallest salaries possible to keep as much cash in the business to pay for teams salaries and inventory.
Working with a CFO and accounting firm has helped us mitigate these challenges to some degree, but the inventory monster is always lurking.
Outside of that, I cannot think of anything that I would label as a “challenge.” There always things that come up, and we are always working to find solutions to new issues that arise, but they are very fluid and we are always working through them. Every day there are new obstacles and we work our tails off every day to overcome them while working to move the vision of Live Bearded forward and maintain our focus on the customer experience.
Are there any important or critical moments for your business coming up in the next 6-8 months?
As I write this, it’s July 5th and we are gearing up for the big holiday push of Q3 and Q4. Winter is definitely beard season so we are gearing up for a big push this holiday season. In addition to that, we are working on hosting our 3rd Brotherhood event in Phoenix, AZ this fall and are very excited to meet some more of our brothers.
In the last year, we’ve host 2 events, one in NC and one in CO where 150+ brothers attended, some driving 20+ hours to be there. Both were awesome and we are looking forward to another this fall. The event will also have a charitable contribution tied to it and we are thinking about doing a “running with the beards” 5K event the same weekend to support a veterans or children organization. We haven’t decided what yet. So much to do, so little time!
We are also investing a lot of time into working closely with barbers to help close the gap between barbershops and beards. Believe it or not, barbershops are not trained on how to trim beards and we hear horror stories every day from our customers, so we are investing into learning the barber industry to find ways we can support barbers and beardsmen alike. Live Bearded barbershop? Maybe one day soon!
We want to get to know you better! In a short video please answer one of the following questions:
1. What is your ultimate dream for your business? Why is this important to you?
2. How do you think your business can change the world? What is standing in the way of that?
3. What in your life are you most concerned about right now? How does your business relate to this?
And that's a wrap! The video was the final questions, the app is signed, sealed and delivered. Now we wait to see what happens. The deadline for submission is September so it will be a while before we hear anything.
As soon as we do, I will do a follow up post and let you know what they say! With the power fo this brotherhood, I personally think they'd be CRAZY not to do a feature on us! And yes, I know that's completely bias, but its the truth! ;-)
Since submitting our application, we have continued to receive dozens of videos from our customers and they are so freaking awesome, I wanted to post a few more of them here for everyone to see.
I sincerely hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look into what we are doing, and where we are going. The first 2 1/2 years have been a wild ride filled with tons of fun, hard work, a few kicks in the ass, and more genuine brotherhood than we could have ever imagined.
Thank you for being on this journey with us, and thank you for all of your support! It truly means the world to us. As we move forward, our primary goal will be to continue to find fun new ways share our message of brotherhood with the world and support this community anyway we can!
Please drop us a comment below and share your honest thoughts and feedback on this post! If you like more, behind the scenes of the business stuff like this, let us know and I'll see what we can do.
As always, Live Bearded Brother!