Beards, bikes and balms: Who says it’s a man’s world?

Her hus­band’s strug­gles with a freshly grow­ing beard marked the start of Monique Flem­ing’s busi­ness Bonafide Beards.

Finweek English Edition - - ON THE MONEY -

in 2014, af­ter search­ing in vain for a prod­uct for her bearded hus­band, Monique Flem­ing did what any sel­f­re­spect­ing part­ner would do. She came up with a home rem­edy of sorts for her hubby’s freshly grow­ing beard. Where she dif­fers from the rest of us, how­ever, is that her “homegrown” prod­uct soon be­came a fully-fledged move­ment to “Bring back the Beard” – and spawned a fever­ishly busy re­tail op­er­a­tion in Park­town North, Jo­han­nes­burg.

What did you do prior to start­ing your own busi­ness?

I worked in the cor­po­rate sec­tor for many years be­fore I took the en­tre­pre­neur­ial plunge nine years ago to fol­low my soul’s dream. I be­gan a small busi­ness do­ing hair ex­ten­sions. I re­alised then that I would al­ways work for my­self.

Where did the idea come from?

At the same time that the hair ex­ten­sion in­dus­try took a turn for the worse (due to qual­ity rea­sons) and I was left be­tween a rock and an empty bank bal­ance, my hus­band Joe started grow­ing his beard. It was dry, itchy and scratchy, and he needed some­thing to re­lieve the symp­toms of a freshly grow­ing beard. Ne­ces­sity is the mother of all in­ven­tions they say, and I needed to in­vent some­thing to help save his beard, as we couldn’t find any prod­ucts specif­i­cally tai­lored to treat a man’s beard in this coun­try and shav­ing was not an op­tion for ei­ther of us – #ilove­fa­cial­hair.

What mo­ti­vated you to turn it into a busi­ness?

Af­ter pro­duc­ing a small batch of beard balm for him as a gift, which he ab­so­lutely adored, I de­cided to take my last R1 300 and pro­duce a batch of sam­ples for the Founder of Bonafide Beards and her bearded hus­band, Joe bearded man in SA. There was clearly a huge gap in the mar­ket for hairy men who needed the prod­ucts – or in some cases didn’t know they needed the prod­ucts

yet. And so my busi­ness was born.

How did you make your first sale?

I cre­ated a Face­book and In­sta­gram page that caught on like wild­fire, and be­fore I knew it I was in­un­dated with mes­sages of men want­ing to pur­chase my wares.

When did you of­fi­cially start op­er­at­ing?

I spent the first three months (from June 2014) spread­ing the word on so­cial media, sell­ing at lo­cal mar­kets, stop­ping ev­ery sin­gle bearded man I en­coun­tered – but more im­por­tantly, we worked at build­ing our on­line store, which of­fi­cially launched 1 Septem­ber 2014 (the day we recog­nise as our birth­day).

How did you get fund­ing to get started?

As men­tioned my ini­tial in­vest­ment was R1 300, which I used to buy ma­te­ri­als and in­gre­di­ents to make my first batch of prod­ucts. Each time I sold any­thing I sim­ply used the money to pur­chase more stock. For­tu­nately, I had a lit­tle money saved up that I used to pay for Face­book ad­ver­tis­ing, as well as to pay for stalls at flea mar­kets to cre­ate aware­ness for the brand and to help through the ini­tial “dry” stages.

Monique Flem­ing

Bonafide Beard’s Hand­crafted Mus­tache Wax Bonafide Beard’s The Car­pen­ter beard oil Bonafide Beard’s hemp and citrus cleans­ing bar

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