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