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Building a Mission-Oriented Business with Eric Bandholz, Co-founder and CEO of Beardbrand

Eric Bandholz 9:23

Yeah, I mean, for most corporate companies, it’s they print out the core values, and they put them up on the wall. And it’s just very, you know, it’s kind of tongue in cheek. For us, it’s, it’s everywhere. You know, during the interview process, the first thing they have to do is talk about the core values and what they mean to them. So, like, the very first interactions, and then when they get hired, I have, I call it a propaganda meeting, where I just tell the story of Beardbrand, while we’re doing you know what those core values mean. You know, like, just helping them Understand and letting them know, like, there’s a reason you don’t sign a noncompete contract at Beardbrand. Like, because we want you to be free, we want you to choose to walk through those doors. And I understand there’s always going to be things where, you know, employees go crazy, or, you know, emotions get deep. But, you know, that’s something that I’m willing to deal with, I would rather have a team of, you know, we’ve got 10 people now 12 people now, I’d rather have a team of 12 people who are excited to come to work every single day, and feel obligated that they have to come here because they have a noncompete that, that they don’t want to get sued or they’re afraid of, you know, whatever, leaving. So those are how, like, the minutiae of the the core values kind of come into play, and I can talk about that, you know, like, we want to be our vendors best customer, you know, we want our, yeah, we want to be our vendors best customer, so we want to over communicate with them, we want to over communicate with our 3PL because we know that the reality is we they don’t have to serve us, and they really don’t. So, unless we hold up our end of the bargain, we pay our bills quickly, you know, we we treat them well, we communicate well, then, you know, they’ve got the ability to sit down, eh, you know, you guys are too much of a headache, we’re going to go somewhere else. So that’s just really kind of what drives us and everything that we do.

Joshua Chin 11:23

I love that, I love that. I wish all my clients would be like you.

Eric Bandholz 11:27

I would love to say we’re perfect at it, you know, like, but obviously, you know, like, concepts and theory don’t always align with execution. So there, there’s always growing pains with it. And of course, as you know, team members cycle through or they get promoted, and you get new people in the roles, you’re always going to have, like those hurdles and challenges. So it’s something that we strive for, it’s certainly not something we’re perfect. That’s why we show up to work every day to get better at what we do.

Joshua Chin 11:56

Amazing, amazing. And, you know, I love that. Not not just because it’s both, it’s really simple. It’s so easy to remember. But it’s not just something you say, but it’s implemented, it’s actually executed point and you know about the business a little bit more about the business now. First, first of all, congratulations to the new barber shop and retail store. And hats off to you for pulling that off in the midst of a global pandemic.

Eric Bandholz 12:28

Yeah, could probably only do it in Texas, you know, like.

Joshua Chin 12:32

But still it’s incredible. So what I want to know, is what’s the strategy behind that? Briefly? And what are the biggest challenges you faced in doing it? I mean, aside from, you know, launching during a pandemic.

Eric Bandholz 12:48

Yeah, we want to, there’s a couple things behind it. So one, as you know, on our YouTube channel, we produce a lot of barbershop content. So by having our own barber shop, it gives us a lot more control over the environment, you know, like, we can turn the music off, we can, you know, work with the barbers we can, you know, like, set the expectations that we’re going to be filming in there. And so that’s, that’s a big reason for us. And then the other reason is, in the age of Amazon, you know, you have to think about what can your brand do that Amazon can’t or likely won’t do. And it’s, you know, Amazon is going to, I can probably confidently say Amazon will always beat us in selection and speed of delivery. Maybe not always in speed of delivery, I think there’s probably some cases where we get stuff out quicker, but those are probably pretty rare. So those are that’s what Amazon’s focusing on: selection and speed of delivery. So we focus on everything else; unboxing experience, you know, like quality of products, customer service, education, user experience on the website, and then also the barber shop, right? Yeah, I can’t imagine Amazon will ever open up a series of barber shops right. And then you think about like the experience you can get the Beardbrand experience you can get by like actually having competent talented barbers cut your hair, cut your beard, you know, like give you a nice like almost a spa-like treatment you know, the hot towel and the hot lather you know, these are things that not only can we show off on our channel, but we can also deliver on so you know, I would love long term vision or would be to have you know, like 500 different barber shops all around America and and just be able to deliver that kind of experience to our customers that they would never be able to get from Amazon.

Joshua Chin 14:57

Incredible um, What are some of the biggest roadblocks or challenges that you’ve faced in, in kind of executing on that vision so far?

Eric Bandholz 15:09

Well, that’s not the big vision for Beardbrand. So right now, I think we want to focus on our products and delivering the products through a DTC or through a multi-chain distribution channel. So like a major retailer. I think the challenge of like a 500 location barber shop is just like, it’s bricks and mortar, you know, so it’s like lease contracts or, you know, building units, building out things. And then it’s also your, your product is people. And you probably know this as an agency is like people as a product is like really challenging to maintain like standards. So there’s – barbers are the exact same way, like they’re, they have different varying levels of talent, and some are good at long hair, and some are good at fades, and some are good with curly hair, and some are good with straight hair. And, you know, like, how do you productize that I don’t think you can. And that’s how we’ve tackled it as, you know, we give ownership in a sense to our barbershop because they rent out the chair, right? And they set the prices. So it goes back to our core values. Freedom is like every single barber who works at Beardbrand. They’re building their own business, you know, like, they’re in control of their destiny. And we provide a really cool environment, and we give great exposure through the channel. And hopefully, that helps bring people to their seats, but ultimately, they’re entirely responsible for the success or failure of their business as a barber.

Joshua Chin 16:46

That is incredible. How do you come up with this idea? To have a barbershop?

Eric Bandholz 16:55

Yeah, I mean, I think it’s something that we just just had for a while. And we’ve wanted to do like ever since we got into filming barbershop experiences, and I do think, you know, especially in the American marketplace, I think black guys have known about barbers, talented barbers, for a number of years. And for you know, white guys, we’ve pretty much just been going to the, the mass market $12 haircut places, and we’ve just going around with, like, you know, some standard haircuts, but that’s what we’re okay with, it just wasn’t part of, you know, this culture. And I don’t want to, like bring in like this racial divide, because obviously, it encompasses all people from, from all different races, and everyone’s at a different level on an individual basis. So I don’t want to say that, but from a general perspective, you know, yeah. White people were, like, I had no idea what a fade was, like, when I was 33 years old, I could not tell you what a fade was, you know, like –

Joshua Chin 18:13


Eric Bandholz 18:14

I think most, most of my peers would, would agree with that. They’re just like trim on the side and blend it up. Like, that’s what we know. It’s exciting, it’s fun to change, you know, I think it’s fun to change and educate and just, you know, bring, you know, the talent that you know, the this audience had not seen before, and to help them understand and learn through our YouTube channel, they learn what a fade is, you know, and they learn how it can be blurry or how it can be like, you know, like a more dramatic transition. So there’s a, there’s a lot of cool nuances of haircuts that I never even realized up until about four or five years ago.

Joshua Chin 19:00

You seem to really enjoy what you’re doing. And so Beardbrand was started in 2012 2012. It’s been –

Eric Bandholz 19:11

I’m old dude, yeah, now we’re like, –

Joshua Chin 19:15

Over nine years now. So um, in one of the one of the interviews that you did, or an article, you mentioned that you building the company in a way that allows you to enjoy the process of building it for the next 20 over years. And I’m paraphrasing here, obviously, but did they get the essence of what you mentioned?

Eric Bandholz 19:36

No no no, that’s exactly what I was saying. And a lot of it goes to stoicism if to any entrepreneurs out there. You know, there’s this there’s this celebration of the exit, right? Like this whole I build a business up and then in five years, I sold it and I made all this money and it’s like, well, what are you doing now? Right, well, the reality is, most people aren’t going to live on the beach and live hedonistic lifestyle they want to start another business. So the question I challenge them with is like why don’t you just keep on building the business that you have and why didn’t you continue to scale it up to a new level? And the reality is there’s a lot of insecurities with entrepreneurs. They don’t think they have the talents or abilities to push the next plateau, they don’t think they don’t like their business anymore. And I’m like well I look at businesses, it’s simply a series of problems right that’s all it is and it’s your job to solve these problems and the valuation of your business is just the valuation of all the problems that you’ve solved up to that point. So you have a problem right now you don’t enjoy your business right and that’s why you want to sell it, or you don’t think it can grow anymore. Well use that creative talent like how can you figure out how to grow it in a new way, how can you expand your vision to bring more opportunity to your business, how can you find a way to love your business again? Is it like do you need to fire staff and hire people that you like? You’re in control of it like if you own the business you’re entirely in control of everything so if you don’t like your team, fire them all and hire new people. If you don’t like the products you’re working on, kill it and start working on products you like. It like because the reality is if you sell it, if you sell this business, you’re going to be in the exact same spot in three years with another business that you don’t like because you never solved that problem. You have to figure out how to solve that problem, once you do that then you can enjoy the journey you can ride that one business until you retire and have multi-generational businesses that you pass on to your your kids or your nephews or friends or family or whoever it is that you feel is is worthy of taking the reins of your business and then I don’t think anyone’s talking about that is building multi-generational businesses.

Joshua Chin 21:58

I love that. You know it in the DTC space, a direct to consumer space, eCom industry in general it’s all about scaling and selling a lot of times. This you know this this conversation really reminds me of a guest that i previously had on, Eric Malka, who founded The Art of Shaving and he sold that business to to P&G for an undisclosed sum which gave him obviously a life of a rich basically retired – everything that he wants –

Eric Bandholz 22:36

It was a nine figure deal I imagine.

Joshua Chin 22:39

And now he’s starting up a new very very cool brand called Ingredients Wellness and he’s he has a completely different mindset that by the way that’s a super interesting interview and podcast episode if you guys haven’t heard it go listen to it it’s super amazing. But his story is that when he was building The Art of Shaving, he was his mindset was all about getting to that exit, getting to that valuation and the next valuation and then eventually selling it off. But now today he’s 100% in the journey and the process of building the company, he’s enjoying each and every way of it. He’s super present in what he’s doing today. And I find that super interesting and I think it’s also kind of it’s it’s hard to envision what life is like outside of the little bubble that we’re in and I think I’m also guilty of that, I’m also chasing for that next level of growth next high, next… Partly also because of coming from a place of scarcity, I’m coming from a place of bankruptcy and all that stuff but. What’s your advice to say, a younger Eric Bandholz, who’s going through that same process of you know being so caught up in just growth and you know not being…

Eric Bandholz 24:07

So a couple things that I want to take on this conversation is really interesting to me because Art of Shaving in my space as well and in my opinion Procter & Gamble is just going to bastardize the brand so it was like super cool and then they sold it and then P&G just does what P&G does.

Joshua Chin 24:24

Yeah, unfortunate yeah.

Eric Bandholz 24:27

First of all I want to, I don’t want to entirely discount the concept of selling. I think there is I do respect people who sell and have that ability. I think it’s a really challenging thing to do and there’s a lot of things that go on. I think when you want to sell, you have to be doing it because you have a vision for something that is bigger and those resources that you get would allow you to do that, like I think that’s a very valid reason to sell. So, for instance, Elon Musk wants to have interplanetary, you know, humanity, right. So he sells PayPal and gets his $200 million. And then, you know, puts it into Tesla because it helps build, you know, sustainability or whatever, and then eventually puts it into SpaceX. So, like something like that, where, you know, he’s able to use that cash from the seller business, to continue on his journey. So he’s on his journey, he has his vision, and the exit is a big part of that journey. But if your current business like you don’t know what you do next, or if you know you do next, and it doesn’t take any really additional capital, for you to be able to do it with your cash flows that you’re currently having, then you kind of stay on it. And then in terms of like, advice to my younger self, really, like, I’ve always like been a person who can kind of see the future and live in the future. But my biggest hurdle was really the people who I put myself around. And historically, I would put myself around, like friends and family who didn’t, who liked the idea of being an entrepreneur, success of an entrepreneur, right? And owning your schedule and having the freedom but they didn’t want the sacrifices to get there. So my biggest learned lesson was simply being around other entrepreneurs. And once I started being around other entrepreneurs, then great things started happening to me. So that’s when I met my business partners, Lindsey and Jeremy, and with them, we have success, at Beardbrand. Without them, no one no one would know who the hell am, I’d just be another dude, working as a sales guy at some company. So you know, a younger me, man, I wish I did that 10 years earlier, you know, like, I wish I was 21 when I learned that lesson, not 31. So but you know, it’s part of the journey.

Joshua Chin 26:54

Part of the journey. And talking like kind of evolutions. What have you recently changed your mind about, if anything at all?

Eric Bandholz 27:06

You know, the thing with me is, I can generate ideas and concepts for brands, faster, and more proficient than the majority of people in the world like that, that’s one of my gifts, is like you tell me your product, tell me what you’re doing. I’ll just come in and be like, this is the language you need to go with. This is how you need to sell it. This is the customer you’re helping. And it will be like mission oriented, right? It’s not just going to be focused on product. So that’s a blessing and a curse. Because I can visualize nine figure businesses all day long, like, and then like, they’re like, Oh, I want to do that. I want to do that. And I want to do that. And so then you have like all you end up like splitting your time, right? You split your energies, and a jack of all trades and master none. So the key is like trying to have enough excitement for what you’re good at to keep you motivated and excited. And also, not to too many that it diverts your course. So yeah, as we said before the show, I’ve got a little Skunk Works brand that I’m working on that I’m really excited. And then I started another business, actually an eCommerce investments, investment business with a few of my other successful entrepreneurs. So between those two projects, I’m pretty excited about it and kind of dipping my toe into new things. That’s, that’s helping me learn new things.

Joshua Chin 28:39

What can you share about the new project?

Eric Bandholz 28:44

So we’ll talk about the investment thing, first Area 627. So six figures or seven figures, is what we’re doing. And essentially, it’s, you know, you kind of alluded to it as all the things that we learned over the past. You know, like nine years, I want to kind of dump that on to someone who’s like in the early stages, like doing $10,000, $10,000 bucks a month or something like that. So we can really just accelerate them and help them go from six figures to seven figures, and beyond. And we also want to work with people who want to do big shot businesses or multi-generational businesses, we’re not looking to invest in businesses that want to sell or exit or, you know, like, we want to help people build profitable companies, and we focus on the eCommerce space with both digital and or informational and physical products. So that’s going to be fun, it’s going to be like super limited, super small with just a handful of investments. And then hopefully, we can just grow five or six companies up to, you know, seven figures, maybe eight figures. And then the other one is it’s another grooming company. So we’re sending off some of our products to you know, what we found is my wife and our kids use our products all the time, you know, and, and with a name like Beardbrand, you’re never going to sell to women, right? It’s just never going to happen. So I’ve got a, I’ve got a new brand that it’s not necessarily going to target women, it’s going to be more of a gender neutral brand. So it’ll kind of target everyone, but it will focus on the niche of really like the the traditional Americana core values of, I mean, let’s let’s be real freedom, hunger, like this individualistic, you know, self accountability, you know, homesteader kind of, like, take care of yourself, that type of person. And so I think those people still exist in America. And I don’t think anyone’s really talking to them. So we have like, really unique features with the products that will resonate, I think they’ll resonate with most people.

Joshua Chin 30:57

Love that.

Eric Bandholz 30:57

And those people are me. So again, it’s like another business selling to myself, hopefully, I just got to try to find more people like myself.

Joshua Chin 31:06

That’s really interesting. And you talked a little bit about, you know, having the excitement to keep you essentially keep it going. it you know, the, the strange thing about entrepreneurs with lots of good ideas is that all they have lots of good ideas. And they get bored. Honestly, I’m one of them. And it takes a lot of discipline for someone to kind of stick to just one thing. But you’ve done that for the past nine years.

Eric Bandholz 31:35


Joshua Chin 31:37

What? What has been kind of your mindset throughout that whole process? Because it’s been challenged with new ideas all the time?

Eric Bandholz 31:45

Yeah, it’s challenging, it’s certainly challenging. I think it goes back to, it is a problem, right? You have a problem, you have a new idea, and you want to go off of that, and you want to chase it, and you want to leave this, you know, beautiful business that you’ve created, behind. And so the challenge is, how do you focus that creative energy into the business? You know, where do we like, you’re coming up with all these ideas? Well, you know, what good is having an idea for, like, a helmet with brake lights on it? What would it do for Beardbrand? The answer is, you know, nothing. So how do I instead just like, okay, that’s a cool idea, right? In the book, you know, put in your field notes, and then come back to it one day, when, when it makes sense, or give it to a friend or something, who’s who’s in the industry? And then how do I get those creative ideas back to Beardbrand, you know, like, because Beardbrand is those ideas too, your agency needs, creativity, whether it be how to create better ads, create, you know, like better culture, how to create, you know, like, better products, services, how to connect with people, like use that creativity internally. So I try to remind myself to focus on things within the business as much as possible. But also, like, you know, like, you know, if you can have a skunkworks project, you know, like, have something on the side, make sure it’s on the side, have lower expectations, and let that be your form of creativity. And then if it dies out, don’t put too much money into it. And then it just dies out, you know, so like, I’m also okay with that, like, I’ll get started on some kind of design thing and then waters out.

Joshua Chin 33:25

And as long as you enjoy it, enjoying the process, that’s, that never hurts ROI.

Eric Bandholz 33:30

Yeah. Well, that’s the thing is like, if you own your business, who cares, right? Yeah, you’re going to be growing your business a little bit slower. But again, like, that’s how you solve the problem is like, oh, here, I just go and nibble on this for a little bit, I get off the ground, then I don’t push it anywhere. That’s fine. It’s allowed me to stay in tune with the business for when I do get that really creative moment that’s going to help the business level up to the next level. So it’s just like a it’s a weird way of solving the problem to be inefficient you know, like, It’s okay. It’s okay to let yourself do that because that’s who you are.

Joshua Chin 34:04

Outside of business. What do you spend your time on?

Eric Bandholz 34:10

Yeah, well, I mean 2020 versus, you know, 2019 are two different things and stuff. I’m married, I’ve got two children. So a lot of a lot of my time goes to my family and really simplistically just being at home. But I’ve started weightlifting. I built a home gym, so I’ve been doing a fair amount of weightlifting. But that was to help me row faster. Unfortunately, I haven’t been rowing because of all the weird rules about rowing. And I enjoy the bigger boats and they don’t allow the bigger boats right now. So that’s been a little frustrating, and then travel. You know, I’ve, I’ve been to a lot of places and I enjoy travel and do greatly miss that. And that’s a real frustrating thing because it’s not just when America opens up, the whole world has to open up for that, to the point that I want it. And apparently that’s not happening.

Joshua Chin 35:07

We’ll see.

Eric Bandholz 35:09

Yeah, I mean, hopefully it’s happening soon. But right now, as of this recording, you know, like it, my buddy Carlos is in the UK. And they’re like, you can’t even leave the UK now. And it’s just like, yeah, it’s just crazy times that we’re living in it, they don’t match with my core values of freedom, and hunger interests. So that’s, that’s what’s been frustrating about this past year, you know, you know, I wish my core values were like, fear, and –

Joshua Chin 35:37

Distrust – fear propaganda.

Eric Bandholz 35:39

Propaganda, propaganda, fear and propaganda are my core values. But, you know, that’s –

Joshua Chin 35:46

That, you know, that’s, that’s just kind of coming back to stoicism and just, you know, accepting the way that things are, and now being kind of struggling with the fact that we, we just cannot control all these things that are happening. And, um, what are some other brands that you personally look up to or think does an amazing job of building a community are building in accordance to their own missions and core values?

Eric Bandholz 36:18

Yeah, I want to list off a bunch off the top of my head. So the greatest community builder I know is Andrew Youderian with eCommerce Fuel. He is such an incredible, genuine, nice, caring for a community builder. There’s just in all my years, I’ve never met anyone better than him. There are brands who I greatly admire, who maybe aren’t building communities, but I think their product is really cool. And their website’s cool, and or their brand voice is really cool. So a couple of those off the top of my head. I’m a customer of Onyx Coffee Labs. I’m a customer of Criquet Shirts here in Austin, Texas. I’m a fan of Rowing Blazers, and a customer of Tracksmith. And those are kind of like in my space, my personal brands that I’m attracted to. There’s a lot more other brands out there that I’m friends with and attracted to. But these are the ones that I’m literally placing orders from like on a monthly basis.

Joshua Chin 37:30

Nice. Very cool. What kind of, you know, if you had just one piece of advice to 21 year old Eric, what would you tell him?

Eric Bandholz 37:46

So if I was stuck to one, you know, the advice is just do it. You know, it’s like, you just whatever, whatever it is, you’re you’re trying to do, but I’ve always kind of been that way. So it’s not really wouldn’t be advice for me, it would be advice for most other people, I’ve always kind of been a just do it kind of guy. But again, going back to what we said earlier, I think you’ve got to put yourself around the right people. And that that whole like you are the sum of your top five friends is like the most true things that you’d ever think. So put yourself around physically fit driven entrepreneurs, who are honest, good people, find five of those. And you will be amazed as to what kind of life you’re going to live.

Joshua Chin 38:36

Amazing. Last question, if you had a massive billboard on the biggest, busiest highway in the US, what would you say? What would it say?

Eric Bandholz 38:47

Um, probably our tagline keep on growing.

Joshua Chin 38:52

Keep on growing. What is that? What does that mean to you?

Eric Bandholz 38:56

Yeah, I mean, and obviously, I’m very self – self congratulatory. It’s keep on growing like you’ve on growing your beard and hair, but also more than that, like keep on growing as an individual and investing in yourself then. You know, like, I think it’s I think self investment is something that the world needs. And right now, there’s a lot of victim mentality, victim mentality and entitlement mentality, and those are not growing mindsets. Those are limiting mindsets. And I think we need louder voices, to encourage people to, to grow and to face their demons. Right. I said on Twitter, recently, you are not a victim. Like even if you’ve had shit happen to you, you’re not a victim. You’re, you know a survivor, or you’ve overcome or you’re a champion, you know, a champion of that trauma, like you’ve defeated it. A victim as someone who’s like you call someone a victim, they’re still a victim. So I don’t think anyone’s a victim, you know, but you have to change that mindset. There are things that happen to you that are shitty.

Joshua Chin 40:10

But they’re not you.

Eric Bandholz 40:12

Yeah, but they’re not you, right. And you’re the one who overcomes it. So I want more of that mentality in the world.

Joshua Chin 40:22

Eric, if people are interested to learn more about Beardbrand or connect with you, where should they go?

Eric Bandholz 40:29

So, you know, if we could get people to go to Beardbrand and buy something from Beardbrand, you’ll see the experience that you get from us. I’m the only Eric Bandholz in the world. So you Google Eric Bandholz, you’ll find me but Twitter is the best place for me. My handle is my last name @bandholz and then check it out. If you’re an eCommerce entrepreneur and in that six figure range check out Area 627 and throw in an application. We’d love to learn a little bit about your business

Joshua Chin 40:57


Eric Bandholz 40:59


Joshua Chin 41:00

Perfect. Eric, thank you so much for being on the show.

Eric Bandholz 41:03

Alright, thanks for having me.

Outro 41:07

Thanks for listening to the eCommerce Profits Podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get notified of future episodes.

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