For Jo’burger Mohsin Begg (34), founder of The Gen­tle­man’s Beard Club, it was the maxim that “num­bers never lie” which per­suaded him to es­tab­lish his start-up in 2014.

As a re­search an­a­lyst, he’s al­ways had a keen in­ter­est in con­sumer trends and he no­ticed that men around the globe were in­vest­ing in per­sonal care and high­end groom­ing. “My re­search showed that men in the UK and the USA had started grow­ing beards and I knew that it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore South African men fol­lowed suit. So I de­vel­oped my first prod­uct, The Gen­tle­man’s Beard Oil, which be­came a house­hold name. We now have eight more products,” says Begg, who holds a Mas­ter’s de­gree in in­for­ma­tion science.

How­ever, he’s had to over­come a num­ber of busi­ness-re­lated ob­sta­cles.

“With a start-up, you never know if you’ll suc­ceed. I launched my first prod­uct at a time when beard oils were ex­tremely scarce in SA. Even though male groom­ing was on the up, men in this coun­try were still scep­ti­cal about spend­ing so much on per­sonal care. I also had no idea about per­ti­nent top­ics like pack­ag­ing, where and how to sell the prod­uct and whether to ven­ture into the on­line re­tail space,” he says.

All he knew for cer­tain was that he was onto some­thing sig­nif­i­cant with his beard oil – and, in­deed, stockists soon opened their doors. Begg’s range of beard oils, skin- and hair­care products is now avail­able from var­i­ous stockists in Johannesburg and Dur­ban. Busi­ness is go­ing so well that his pre­mium of­fer­ings are be­ing sold in Aus­tralia and will soon be avail­able in the USA.

What’s at­tracted cus­tomers to The Gen­tle­man’s Beard Club – be­sides its use of high-qual­ity, nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents sourced from coun­tries like Morocco and Mex­ico – is the way the start-up dif­fer­en­ti­ates it­self in a niche mar­ket.

“It’s crit­i­cal for any en­tre­pre­neur to be a dis­rup­tor and an in­no­va­tor. That’s what suc­cess is based on these days. Oth­ers may try to copy you, but you’ll be the first to mar­ket.

“For in­stance, we have a prod­uct called The Gen­tle­man’s Beard Club Growth Serum, which helps African hair to grow. We’ve no­ticed more black men are grow­ing beards, and be­cause that type of hair grows in a spi­ral, we have to treat it dif­fer­ently. This is how we’ll con­tinue to be pi­o­neers,” he notes.

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