Launching soon, Organic Beard Co wants to cater to all things facial hair, naturally Arab beard styles.
At the 2013 Oscar awards, George Clooney, Hugh Jackman, Ben Affleck and Bradley Cooper turned up on the red carpet with full beards and started a revolution. Facial hair quickly went back mainstream, rising from novelty conversation pieces to de rigueur for every man worth his fashion salt — at least those that are genetically inclined, anyway.
While critics have been announcing their demise since, claiming we’ve reached ‘peak beard’, one Dubai entrepreneur thinks there’s enough in the resurgence of beards to make a business case.
Next month, Paul Wagenaar is launching a product range called Organic Beard Co, to cater to everything beards and more. The bearded South African, who works in the financial industry, says he was always craving a creative outlet. And at 40, he’s found the courage to do so by launching his own brand. The Directory caught up with him to talk about all that fuzz.
When did you first get the idea for Organic Beard Co?
About a year ago. It was my girlfriend that encouraged me to grow my beard. I started looking for beard grooming products and couldn’t find anything here in Dubai. I went online and ordered from various global brands. My original idea was to sell other brands here in the region but after seeing what the market had to offer, and trying the products myself, I decided to create my own range.
Has it been difficult to get it off the ground?
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The biggest challenge was to find trustworthy and reputable suppliers for my ingredients. The market is full of charlatans and people that claim they supply 100 per cent organic ingredients but I had to really do [my] homework. My vision from the start was to supply a high-end product that is 100 per cent organic and finding suppliers that appreciated and understood my vision was and continues to be a challenge.
What makes Organic Beard Co different?
There are two key aspects that make Organic Beard Co unique. The first one is the ingredients we use. Discerning shoppers want to know how and where a product was produced i.e. was it grown organically without the use of pesticides, and was it grown sustainably? The second aspect is branding. Our branding is clean, contemporary and lifestyle orientated.
What gave you the confidence that this was a product line that would fly?
I have 100 per cent confidence in the quality of our products and as long as there are men on this planet, there will be men growing beards. It also helps that there’s currently a global beard trend.
Tell me a little bit more about your first product range.
The debut range consists of three beard oils and two beard combs. The three scents are mint, wood and lavender. The combs are hand-crafted in the UK by Kent. We have a very cool little moustache comb and a pocket comb for a beard and moustache.
The next stage is two very special beard oils. I don’t want to give away too much but one of the oils’ fragrance comes all the way from this small family-run farm on the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand where the plant is harvested by hand. The second oil’s fragrance is custom distilled from a very rare and exotic tree and is something truly special. I’m really excited about both these oils. I’m also currently working on a beard cleanser and a range of moustache waxes.
How would you like to see Beard Co grow in the future?
My vision is to have the beard grooming range stocked in select retailers here in the UAE but also London, Amsterdam, New York etc and then to expand the range to more general grooming products for men.
Is the UAE a good place for entrepreneurs like yourself?
Yes. The UAE is known for big brands and big malls but generally people are tired of this. There’s a growing trend of creative and bespoke small businesses popping up and flourishing.
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The debut range will be available by mid November. People can keep an eye on our Instagram account @organibeardco for updates.