We recently sat down with AJ of Ruggedly Groomed, a Philadelphia based men’s grooming blogger and photographer to discuss the creation of Kent & Bond and what lies ahead for our brand.
To kick things off, give me some background on Kent & Bond. How did things get started for you guys and how did the idea of starting a grooming brand come into play?
Kent & Bond was born from a personal need. Both my co-founder and I started getting very interested in organic personal care for all the reasons you would expect. Just [being] curious about the chemicals used in everyday products, and looking for more natural alternatives. I was actually exposed to organic soap around this time, and after holding these organic ingredients I quickly realized that this is what personal care products should feel like. From there it was the curiosity of wanting to use organic for myself and wondering what brands could I go to for this. Very quickly we realized that no one was making organic grooming for men; it just was not in the marketplace. This was a big deal because there are a lot of guys interested in organic personal care and are already consuming organic foods so it only makes sense that there should be that option for grooming. It came down to if we want this and nobody else is doing it then we’re going to do it. That was the spark that set things off.
Then in the process we realized there were a lot of other shortcomings in men’s grooming. So it was about let’s make this organic product offering for guys but let’s also create what we think a men’s grooming brand should be. Most guys are stuck in this ugly loop of having to go to the pharmacy and pick up the one item that they are out of and having to make a detour in there commute, go find it on the shelf, buy it and then ultimately most likely using an inferior product from a brand they don’t really connect with. So we said let’s just build what we think it should be. That included free shipping, auto re-order, and charitable giving. Then there’s the e-commerce model; having goods delivered to your door for free on an automatic cadence that you don’t have to think about. These are all things guys should be able to expect from their grooming products but for whatever reason they don’t.
That sounds pretty great man; in reality men’s grooming is still in a beginning stage and still is going through the growing process. I agree with what you are saying and I see what you guys are trying to do.
Most men out there are pretty uneducated about having a fully effective grooming regimen. A lot of men just use shampoo, soap and shave and that’s it. They don’t have any of the extra nuances or add-ons that can be a real benefit because they are completely unaware and no one has really told them what to do. And that education is what we want to offer and is something that we are really focusing on as we move forward as a brand. In a lot of ways, brands almost have the responsibility to educate men because they are the ones putting the products out there and influencing the marketplace. So why shouldn’t they also be the ones to educate people? That’s something we think all grooming brands can do a better job of and we want to become the gold standard there.
Take us through some of the thoughts and things that was brainstormed when coming up with new products and new ideas. How does Kent & Bond come up with new products expanding under the brand?
There are two major concerns when we are thinking about making a new product. How does it fit in a business prospective (cost, inventory investment, market positioning, etc.)? And then how do we make the best quality product. We source from many different suppliers, and we look for people that can help make our products exclusively based on quality. We also do a huge amount of testing and reviewing what is already available in the market. We look at what other people have done, how we can learn from them and how we can improve on it. Obviously we have the restriction of only using organic ingredients, but that ultimately drives us to be more creative. We test and tweak the product until we love it; always focusing on craftsmanship and making something that is the absolute pinnacle of quality.
A lot of people believe if it says natural on it then it’s organic and that is totally not true. Natural is labeled on everything and people are like, “O it’s organic and natural”, but no they are two very different things. I like the fact that you guys are not only labeling your product as organic but actually using organic ingredients and making sure you are only working with people who are following the same organic guidelines.
Absolutely. If you look at our grooming line now, in the grand scheme of things it’s very limited. There’s a lot of products that we just haven’t tapped into yet. One product that is very important to us is shampoo. We are actively working on that now, and plan on getting to a point where guys can have a full Kent & Bond shower. Whether it’s the bar soap, shampoo, body wash and conditioner, we want guys to be able rely on our brand for the whole process.
Another product area we are working on right now is shaving. We are working on a wet shave line and hope that we can add a shaving cream, pre shave oil and aftershave balm. All really great products and all critical for men to have in their grooming regimen. We’ve already done a couple of test runs on a shaving soap that has done very well.
What’s next for Kent & Bond?
Really we are going to keep introducing fantastic products like the ones that I was just mentioning. We are focused on building out our website so it is the ultimate shopping experience.
Also, focusing much more on the grooming guide because we feel like we have a responsibility as a brand to educate our customers. Many men feel like they don’t need a complete grooming regimen but education from a brand might change that.