For university friends Michael Wells and Kieran Ashworth, the multi-billion pound worldwide male grooming market is proof that men are taking care of their appearance now more than ever.
However, most male grooming products under the subscription model either send out samples of a range of products or are outrageously overpriced for what is essentially a basic necessity.
Wells and Ashworth, set up a subscription based male grooming brand, Gentlemen’s Order in January 2016 that feature products from three well-known industry trusted brands; The Shave Doctor, Dapper Duke and Kent brushes. The Midlands based duo behind the business have also secured Geordie Shore’s Jay Gardner as a brand ambassador as part of their business expansion plan, who is said to be a huge fan of the service.
The industry is currently saturated with overpriced products, says co-founder Ashworth, especially for men with beards, who often have to pay ridiculous prices for their grooming essentials such as a beard oil and wash. The co-founders talk through their start-up journey.
What does your business do?
Gentlemen’s Order provides men with grooming products on a subscription based model. Gentlemen’s Order caters to all styles by supplying products that range from German engineered razor blades to molten marshmallow beard oil. Providing three unique kits: The shaved gent, the bearded gent and the simple shave. Each kit can be purchased on a subscription model by selecting the size of your beard or the frequency of which you shave.
The kits can also be purchased as a one off gift set. Aiming to take the hassle out of your daily routine by ensuring that Gents never run out of their grooming essentials. Gentlemen’s Order also combines the principle of affordability with unwillingness to compromise on quality. The male grooming market is saturated with big companies which are able to charge extortionate amounts of money for products such as razor blades. This is something we want to stop.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Kieran and myself met at University, and had been saying for years that we wanted to start our own business and work for ourselves. After months of brainstorming, we managed to arrange a meeting with Jamie Dunn, a well-known entrepreneur from the Midlands.
Jamie gave us some good, solid advice, and told us that he thought there was going to be a rise in the subscription based business model. This is where the cogs started turning and Gentlemen’s Order was born. This didn’t come without setbacks – it was almost called ‘Male Order’ until we realised the questionable connotations. It would have made a great pun though!
Whilst chatting to Jamie (we) discussed the massive growth in the male grooming market and also the ever increasing popularity of subscription based models such as Netflix, Match.com, Graze etc.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Men have been shaving for years and it is a tradition which will seemingly never go out of fashion. More recently however, the trend of sporting a beard has grown in popularity with many businesses being created to cater for a bearded gent.
We decided we wanted to cater for both. The rise in popularity of subscription based services also had a big influence. Choosing a tailored plan meaning the products will arrive to your door; hassle free when you need them was is an attractive proposition. Although there are companies with similar business models out there, Gentlemen’s order is unique in the fact that it caters to both bearded and shaved gents and also in terms of value for money. Our new ‘Simple shave kit’ beats all of our competition in terms of value for money.
How did you raise funding, and why?
Funded equally by both directors to buy initial stock and create the website.
Describe you business model in brief.
Either subscription based or one off purchases of either shaving or beard grooming kits.
What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?
When all of initial customers who purchased subscriptions when we first launched had their subscriptions renew later down the line. This was a big achievement for us as it meant that we had a customer base who clearly likes the products we were offering and wished to continue with their subscription!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Be prepared to take a few risks and willing to get support from others. Don’t ever rush into everything, take time to come up with a plan and adhere to it.
Where do you want to be in five years time?
Continuing to grow our subscription based customer portfolio. We would like to introduce new products and services over the next few years. We really want to grow the Gentlemen’s order brand and will be looking at numerous options to go about doing this
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you be…..
Both (of us) are currently employed in the financial sector and are using Gentlemen’s Order as a means of changing field we work in with the aim of being self employed. Therefore, if not for Gentlemen’s Order we would both probably both still be working in the industry.
What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?
Our business philosophy is to provide our customers with fantastic products at a fair price whilst also helping to simplify their life by giving them one less thing to worry about! One of the biggest reasons we entered this industry is because we believe that something as routine as a morning shave or grooming a beard should not break the bank! We also believe that it should not be neglected or overlooked hence why we offer the products on a convenient subscription model.