This successful lifestyle brand was built with pride on a beard and a hashtag by an award winning entrepreneur with an exceptionally strong background in sales and marketing.
Winner of 6 scholarships and awarded the Co-op Student of the year award from the Canadian Association for Cooperative Education (CAFCE), funds from the awards helped launch this start up 3 years ago.
Sven Hansen Founder/Marketing/Sales at #AlwaysBearded states the hashtag he created has been used “over 150,000 times, to salute men with beards, the women that love them and the community built around that.” His t-shirt test, with a t-shirt designed to validate the #AlwaysBearded market sold out quickly. Sven Hansen first started selling products made by other companies to local barbershops, but the business has since pivoted, always staying true to its roots by saluting the beard.
#AlwaysBearded is the first men’s grooming line to be licensed as “Cert Clean Certified”, meaning all ingredients are scientifically proven to be without short or long term health detriments by North American standards.
The full product line is available to purchase online, with the customer rewards program proving to be very rewarding for returning customers. #AlwaysBearded is found throughout Ontario in local natural stores, men’s grooming salons, Goodness Me and Healthy Planet supermarkets.
#AlwaysBearded keeps it local – having sourced products for their hemp based line from Barrie’s own Mettrum Hemp Seed, who produces hemp for the North American market. Light production is done close to home in Vaughan, while scaling and packaging is completed in Barrie. “We could do our packaging in China, but we prefer to keep it local.”
Barrie has been good to Sven Hansen. His mentor Chris Adams at the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre has been quick to mention grants and assist with applications, as funding is his biggest business challenge. Sven Hansen was the winner of both the “exC!te Pitch” Competition in 2016 and selected as the first place medal winner of the Barrie Community Entrepreneur of the Year in the same year. “The monetary rewards help with projects for expanding and scaling the business, it’s very hard to handle all the hats I have to wear, but I’m bringing in my first full time employee based on a grant.”
Beards and moustaches have a close connection and when I asked Sven Hansen what’s next for #AlwaysBearded he said to “stay tuned” but hinted broadly that before the annual Movember campaign he will be launching an exciting event for pogonophiles.
“Next year we are also launching a subset brand dedicated to men’s grooming, its top secret but similar” he shared with a smile.
Sven Hansen added his own question to our interview, offering his thoughts on what he would say to anyone that is thinking of becoming an entrepreneur.
“Because I’ve been an entrepreneur we get very comfortable working for someone else with job security. I think that the betterment of the world and how the world keeps evolving is coming from entrepreneurship. If people feel comfortable their entire life working for someone else there’s really a limit on how things evolve, how things move forward. It really is a waste I find, it’s a waste if you have that drive. If there is a part of you that is really wanting to become an entrepreneur and has a great idea of how to make something better or how to create something new then you should do it, because if you don’t jump you’ll never fly, that’s something I heard. If you have the idea then do it, things would not be getting better, without that we wouldn’t be moving forward.”
“A good point we can take from what we are seeing with the economy, all these big retail closures, is a lot of it is going to come back to local. That’s something people can look at if they are looking for gaps in the market place, is that everything can’t be online. That’s the way everything is going, we’re online, I see the value of being online, but there is a certain tangible aspect that local can bring, that the online cant.”
Razor sharp observations from #AlwaysBearded.