Grooming a Business
Hair Today, Beard Tomorrow
It’s no secret that here at The Art of Shaving we love a well thought out product with an even better brand story. Facial hair of all types has been on a steady upswing in popularity for the last few years and from the looks of it, isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Born in 2012, Can You Handlebar, saw a need to help condition and shape the beards and moustaches of gentlemen of distinction. Five years later, they continue to be a leader in grooming facial hair.
We recently had the chance to sit down with Doug Geiger, Owner and Founder of Can You Handlebar, to get his unique bearded perspective.
TAOS: Tell us a little bit about the heritage of Can You Handlebar…
DOUG: Like any good story of American entrepreneurship, ours starts in a garage. In 2012, the first batches of Can You Handlebar Moustache Wax were produced in a crock pot that I stole from my wife Jordon and the ingredients were paid for with $400 I didn’t have at the time that I placed on a credit card. After considerable trial and error I found myself with a product I was happy with, that worked well, and could stand up to daily use. Can You Handlebar was born.
TAOS: Assuming you’ve moved on from the crock pot days, where is your current factory and how many people do you employ?
DOUG: We’re currently located in Mt. Clemens, MI, in a 10,000 square foot facility. We employ roughly 7 full-time and another 10-12 part-time employees. As a team, we manufacture, package, sell and ship all of our Beard Oils , Dry Beard Oils (beard balms) and moustache waxes.
We all come from a variety of backgrounds. None of our current staff had any prior experience in the grooming industry. Brian, our Director of Sales, used to be a practicing attorney. Our Production Manager, Dawn, ran her own landscaping business. I was in marketing for a company that sold heirloom quality leather goods. Our unique experiences make us who we are as a company.
TAOS: Sounds like your team is a tight knit crew. What made you want to get into the world of men’s grooming?
DOUG: I saw a need for a well-crafted, thoughtfully packaged everyday use moustache wax that was upfront about the ingredients used. In 2012 that simply didn’t exist in my opinion, so I created one.
TAOS: That’s great! Some of the best products were created out of someone simply seeing a need that others hadn’t noticed yet. As a bearded gentleman yourself, what’s your favorite grooming tip to tell your clients? Why?
DOUG: Don’t trim. Starting out, we encourage people to just let it grow. Keep it conditioned with a high quality Beard Oil , tame it with Dry Beard Oil (the beeswax will help tame flyaways and give you some shape) as needed and just see it come into its fullest incarnation. Once you see what you’re working with coverage-wise and how well the length looks on you, then you can begin styling and manicuring what you have. Under ideal circumstances we recommend growing your facial hair, with no trimming, for a period of 90 days. This blows many people’s minds because they are often convinced that the secret to a good-looking beard is constant trimming and maintenance. During this time you’ll be able to see how your natural growth pattern develops and can then decide whether a full beard, a trimmed beard or something like a goatee and moustache is right for you.
TAOS: Totally agreed! You cannot will your hair to grow in the shape you want. You need to see what you’re working with and go from there. Knowing your commitment to ingredients and quality control, tell us what makes your products so special? Can you tell us a bit about how they are manufactured?
DOUG: Our Beard Oil and Dry Oil (beard balm) have been specifically formulated to condition not only the hair but the skin below, knocking out the itchiness, dryness and flaking that are chief complaints among those growing beards. Our Moustache Wax is prized as being one of the best on the market, professional grade, and is made of 100% natural products. We’re also constantly innovating, take our Can You Handlebar Beard Oil Brush ™ for example: It’s the first of its kind beard oil and balm applicator on the market, designed to evenly distribute product throughout your beard while penetrating down to gently massage the skin as well. In all that we do, we are looking for viable and comprehensive solutions to the needs of our customers.
We package our products for everyday use. This means oil-proof and waterproof labels, durable storage tins, our “no-break” tube packaging for glass bottles; we use these products ourselves and these things just make sense to us on a practical level. We also take our customer’s feedback to heart. The dropper tops that are now standard on all of our beard oils came about from customer requests.
Everything is made in the U.S. That’s not just a point of patriotic pride, it’s done to allow us oversight and hands-on quality control. Sure, we could save a bunch of money outsourcing, but it’s always been important to us to know exactly what’s going into our product, and how, and to be as involved in the process as possible.
TAOS: I can hear the great passion you have for your products as you speak. Since you were an innovator in the resurgence of the beard and moustache movement, where do you see the future of male grooming going?
DOUG: Recent years have seen a major increase in the amount of time (and money) that men spend on taking care of their appearance and we’re proud to be a part of that. Grooming isn’t a vanity exercise, it’s a personal decision in how a man chooses to present himself to the world. Whether a man chooses to grow a beard or to shave every day, the ritual and routine that he develops becomes a part of who he is. Beards and moustaches are more than a trend. We plan on sticking around, and we’ve designed our products and packaging to reflect that. Can You Handlebar products are real solutions to men’s needs.
TAOS: We agree! However a man chooses to groom, we have a solution. Our Brotherhood relies on us curating the right products from whatever style they choose. What kinds of things do you do to build a community with your clients?
DOUG: Last year, we launched an initiative called The Beard Mentor. At TheBeardMentor.com you will find an informational and educational blog focused on tips, tricks and advice for those interested in beards and moustaches. We all have different beards, from length to coloration to the way they grow and it was important to us to share that. With over 100 articles and videos, we’re dedicated to providing our customers (and anyone who has questions) with some answers gleaned from our years of experience.