THE LOCAL BUSINESSES OUT TO CRACK AMERICA
START spreading the news, two Bucks businesses are set to take a big bite out of the big apple after winning a competition to join a trade mission in New York.
Chalfont St Peter based Mojo Skin and Haircare and High Wycombe based SOAK Yourself were two of 10 South East businesses owners chosen by the UKTI (UK Trade and Industry) to attend the NY Now trade show as part of a competition to showcase the best in UK design and innovation.
Organised by the UKTI in conjunction with Norwegian Air, which has recently started a low-cost route from Gatwick to New York, the trip, which took place at the end of last month would also help the businesses expand their horizons with access to potential US buyers and help and advice from experts in US customs, trade and banking.
Although the idea for Mojo only came about in 2014, the luxury haircare products created by founder and CEO Paul Adrian are already making waves on the international market.
Before branching out on his own Paul had worked in advertising and was the global sales and marketing director for men’s grooming brand King of Shaves. It was during a sales trip to the US that Paul decided he could put his expertise to better use.
“I met some people and I thought you know what I could so this better, I know what I’m talking about,” he said. “I took King of Shaves all around the world, I sold into Moscow, I took the brand into Target in the US so I have a lot of contacts and the right experience and I just looked at the market and saw there was an opportunity for something different.
“My wife had said to me one day ‘what is that product you’ve got on your hair? it stinks’, and this was one of my favourite products, an American brand, and that was my eureka moment when I thought right, I can create something different.”
The ‘something different’ about Mojo is its use of a luxury fragrance and the packaging, created by Paul and inspired by the things he loves.
“I didn’t want to smell of citrus, I wanted a luxury smell so I sat down, surrounded myself with my favourite things so it’s all influenced by a love of Cuban cigars, Blue Note Jazz record covers, hence the typography, and then I looked at the market and everyone else was in plastic jars and that’s why I did glass because men like to feel something that’s weighty.”
The range includes a shampoo, a conditioner and a beard oil but the core products are the hair clay, fibre shaper and styling cream, all with that bespoke scent.
With a stated aim of going global from the outset Mojo was already off to a head start before the competition with Ocado on board, a deal in the pipeline with Amazon and plans to expand into India.
Paul had also already decided to set up Mojo Inc and establish a warehouse in the US and had landed his first big US account with newegg. com. He even had the star of the new Broadway musical School of Rock tweeting the virtues of Mojo after a chance meeting in a hotel lobby.
By being given the chance to exhibit as part of the UK pavilion at the NY Now trade show, the Mojo brand was among 400 product categories from more than 2,500 companies from around the world and on top of its initial success the trip has helped to push the brand forward and has hopefully resulted in finding a new US distributor.
“It can still be a game changer,” Paul said, “because you can meet that one person who controls such a big account here and that’s how it changes.
“That’s why with this business you’ve got to get out there personally because you never know who you are going to meet.
“We’re really proud to be one of the winners, its really great for the brand, it gives it momentum, people talk about it, it makes a big difference.”
Not quite as far down the business road is Jackie Hope, creator of SOAK Yourself bath ritual recipe kits.
The boxes contain combinations of natural, organic essential oils and salts all formulated to provide an indulgent and restorative soak in the tub.
For Jackie the trip proved to be more of a fact finding and research exercise as opposed to a sales mission. But with plans now in place to get her product tested and approved by the FDA she hopes, thanks to the confidence from the win and guidance from the UKTI, to be moving forward soon.
“It’s given me a good list of things that I know I need to do now before I can launch in the US,” she said.”
“The experience has been invaluable in that if I hadn’t come on this trip I would have come over blind, I would have fumbled around and not really known what to do and how to do it so it’s given me a really good basis what I have to do in order to come and do business here.”
For Jackie, who runs a bath and body boutique in High Wycombe, the chance to meet other business owners has also proved beneficial.
“It has been great to talk to other companies to see where they’re at, what they’re doing, what they think,” she said, “because often you’re on your own in your business, and it’s all about you and your business and you don’t really get your head up to talk to other people so it’s been nice for me to know I’m on the right track and to compare with what others are doing.”
Jackie also took the opportunity to do a little shopping and plans to bring some new US products back to her Bucks boutique.
Success: Paul Adrian creator of the Mojo hair products, pictured left
Fact finding: Jackie Hope of Soak