De Pere’s Josh Woods had a problem. After battling a dry, itchy beard and trying product after product on the market, nothing seemed to work. His wife, Amy, joined him in trying to find a solution.
“Josh is a welder by trade,” Amy said. “He went bald at 22, and to regain his confidence he let his beard grow out. But he has very sensitive skin and none of the products we found seemed to address that. His beard was patchy and itchy. So we started researching and testing ingredients and developing a product that people love.
With a Bachelor of Commerce degree and previous experience running an e-commerce custom clothing store, Amy was excited to work with her husband to start a new business. Favorite (pronounced as “favorite”) became the brand name.
“We chose the name because we know it will be our customers’ favorite,” Amy said. “We didn’t want to limit it to beard care because Josh knew right away that he wanted products that could be used all over your body. We wanted it to be a one stop shop for the whole family.
Because Josh wanted to develop products that address sensitive skin issues, the couple decided to use all natural ingredients with no fillers. They have written a mission statement stating their goal: to provide people with skin, hair and beard care products that improve self-confidence, promote hair growth and reduce itching and irritation.
Convinced she was building a business with great potential, Amy enrolled in The Blueprint Green Bay, an accelerator program for entrepreneurs of color, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses and startups. The rigorous 12-week program included an array of coursework and mentorship with a pitch competition at its conclusion.
“Blueprint has been such a blessing in so many ways in terms of how we feel about scaling and growing this business,” Amy said. “The mentors were instrumental in helping us think through all the details.”
As Josh works full time, Amy spends her days with her four children, ages 2 to 10, and works in the business. She and Josh coordinate their efforts when he’s home, putting in about 20 extra hours a week.
Their efforts are working. While Josh develops formulas and creates blends, Amy works on many business aspects including designing a website and social media pages, graphic design and sales.
Networking was an important aspect, and between Blueprint and a presentation at 1 Million Cups, a monthly event connecting entrepreneurs in the Green Bay community, she says she made valuable connections. More importantly, Amy says they have developed some amazing products. They have one that is patent pending and recently filed a patent on what they think is their biggest hit.
“We have developed a hairdressing tool that will revolutionize contour care. (The edges are the baby hairs that grow around the perimeter of the forehead and can look frizzy if left unchecked.) No other grower on the market has this,” Amy said. Ethnic-haired people are very passionate about edge control, and a lot of what we traditionally use isn’t good for it.
She says it was a personal quest to develop a product like this that promotes hair growth, contains natural ingredients to stimulate and not damage hair follicles, and smooths out stray hairs. Plus, the Stay Stick, as it’s been named, is portable and can replace bulky hairsprays, gels, combs, and brushes.
This personal aspect of the business has driven most of their product development. For Josh, product development has included body lotion that can keep a bald head from burning, lip butters for his chapped lips, and intense lotion to protect his dry hands from welding.
The response from users proves that others are struggling with the same issues. While there are hundreds of companies that could be considered competitors in the high-end hair and body care space they occupy, Amy says the market for all-natural products is much smaller. And, she points out, if you check the labels of most products, you find a list of ingredients that are hard to identify.
“We stand out,” she added. “We spent a lot of time researching our target market and we feel like we’ve come to the right place. Before the end of the year, we will launch on Amazon and work with beauty wholesalers to get into the catalogs that every retail store in the country buys from.
They currently sell online and in a number of retail stores, but their marketing strategy requires a larger scale. They have set time goals and in the fall hope to have a larger production facility with a retail store (they currently rent a small space in Green Bay) and a growing wholesale business.
There are plans to attend a vendor show in Atlanta and tour some area festivals. As they grow, there will be more trade shows to grow their brand.
“We need to spread the word and let people know we exist,” Amy said. “We’ve done all the back work and see the value of social media, using influencers and building our network. It’s hard to know when to scale and when to order larger quantities. What will it look like? in the future?”
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and former district manager of SCORE, Wisconsin.