Ben Rivers, founder of male grooming brand Baldape, shares the story behind his business and his keys to success.
Tell us about your business?
We are a men’s grooming brand driven by a lack of practical solutions and suitable products for everyday grooming and exist to provide innovative, top-quality solutions that we and our customers are proud to use.
I founded Baldape Parlour in 2019 and it officially launched in the spring of 2021. We’re based in London and it was born out of the need for a DIY solution for manscaping some hard to reach areas (the back!). There were no suitable products for me on the market and the only other options were visiting a salon or asking for assistance. After testing a few ideas, I came up with what I like to call the ‘lather & loof’ technique and our first product, the Silverback Kit, was born! We launched with a bodycare range and have now recently rolled out a beard and skincare collection. Throughout my adult life I faced challenges and frustrations with finding a reliable and healthy skincare routine. As someone prone to dry skin and eczema and having trialled A LOT of products out there, I always thought I had something to offer in this space.
What is your background?
I graduated in 2015 with a degree in economics and have spent most of my professional career in banking and finance in London. I’ve managed to incorporate several years of travelling abroad within that time and have lived in Australia, Asia, and Latin America most recently. I caught the entrepreneurial bug when working with a friend on his start-up and it was one of the most thrilling things I’ve done and ever since I’ve been working towards my own venture.
What sets you apart from your competition?
Our products and formulas are what mostly sets us apart. Male grooming products are often just an afterthought of existing women’s products, or the formulas are too harsh and heavily fragranced with perfume. This assumption that men want products that smell incredibly manly are often to the detriment of our skin as perfumed products can cause irritation. We’ve curated all our products with this in mind and have used only the best natural ingredients to give men confidence in their grooming products.
What also sets us apart is our aim to become a fully sustainable male grooming brand and our commitment to donate 5% of our profits to environmental and conservation projects.
How do you spread the word about your business?
So far, most marketing has been done through search engines like google where people are directly looking for the solution to their needs which has been effective. We are gradually increasing social media presence and advertising as this needs to be done on a large scale to be effective. We have advertised products and ran competitions in publications such as GQ, MensHealth and Cosmopolitan which is costly but fundamental in establishing integrity with the brand and getting noticed by a wider audience. We’re working with a new PR agency and are excited for potential editorial press in the new year to continue spreading the word. We’ve found the more angles you try and the longer you promote them, you’ll start to see customer traffic balancing out across the marketing channels and more people will be returning directly to your store.
What’s the hardest thing about running a business?
As a new business it’s all about spreading the word so I think the hardest part is balancing your marketing expenditures with your sales and not putting yourself out of business. This can be difficult when you don’t know which marketing channels are going to be effective and which aren’t, but it’s all part of the process.
Have you received any financial support for your business?
I applied for the Government Start-up loan and received some funding which helped launch the business but apart from that it is self-funded.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
I think as someone with no marketing background, this was a challenging area to start with however you learn fast and understand it’s not going to be an overnight success, you need to put the time and work in to start seeing results. Another area that was challenging was developing our first cosmetic product. As a new start-up, building the brand from scratch, it can be difficult to get your foot in the door, especially when the minimum order quantities are large and you have limited capital but by being resourceful, patient and a bit persistent you can overcome these hurdles.
What’s the best decision you’ve made so far?
I’d say the best decision I’ve made so far must be doing a lot of the work myself and trying not to outsource anything that can be done, to a good standard, from my own laptop. This means teaching yourself to do everything creative i.e., marketing, design, website build, photography etc. Learning how to use the Adobe suite is the most valuable thing I have done so far. To be able to design all your own packaging, logos, social media content and edit product photos and film is incredibly valuable. It will save you a lot of money and time.
If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?
I don’t really have any regrets so far, sure there are things I may have done differently or things that didn’t work out, but they are all valuable lessons and you learn what works and to steer your business in the right direction.
What has been your proudest achievement so far?
I’d say my proudest achievement so far would be winning an industry award but also hearing the positive experiences of our customers.
What are your hopes for your business in the next five years?
The main aim at the moment is to spread the word in as many ways as possible so people can give our products a try and hopefully find great solutions to their personal care challenges. I’m really excited for the future and to see where the brand can go, what it can achieve and the positive social impact it will make. I want to create a fully encompassing male grooming brand which can deliver on all areas without compromising on quality and affordability, providing men with confidence in their personal care.