Over the last 3 years, we've grown our small batch men's grooming brand from our home kitchen with a modified rice cooker to a brew space in the old Gibson amplifier building with retailers all over the company. I always compare us to craft beer 30 years ago in that we are creating a unique offering of a familiar product and doing in a unique way. We try to do these once per year in addition to contributing in the small business, barbering and hair related subreddits throughout the year.

Proof: Here's my proof!


Comments: 181 • Responses: 57  • Date: 

triit108 karma

Congrats on the success! I am balding and couldn't grow a beard if I tried, but can I ask for a product request? Neutrogena used to make a "Skin Clearing" shave gel (different than their sensitive skin one) that has been about the only cure for a lot of us who have adult acne and oily skin and are prone to ingrown hairs from shaving. It has been unavailable for months seemingly discontinued and $6 bottles are going for over $50 on eBay and Amazon Marketplace. There aren't many other shave products that have salicylic acid in them, maybe 2 or 3. None of them foam like a proper shave cream should, I would love to get back to my shave brush and DE razor. MenScience makes one I want to try but it has aloe in (that I'm mildly allergic to) and it also doesn't foam. I'm currently using GiGi and it's not nearly as lubricating and I still get occasional break outs. Is this something you could make in the future?

samsonshaircare196 karma

Good question! I legit turned off my music to read this.

We could mess around with this. Jake will love this challenge. Could you send us a DM so we can send you samples if we choose to try our hand at making something comparable?

RevRagnarok17 karma

!RemindMe 1 month

samsonshaircare36 karma

Going to be way more than a month, big dawg. Most products are in development for at least 6 months.

WishIWasOnACatamaran15 karma

6 months even feels like a rush on something like this lol

samsonshaircare17 karma

This is if everything goes perfectly at every single step and no stability testing is needed.

jonesingforMilksteak4 karma

Big props for upfront honesty. Good people make good companies

samsonshaircare3 karma

Thank you! Honesty is the best policy.

DonaldTrumpsBallsack2 karma

I absolutely second this, hell I’d pay just to try out the samples I’ve been searching high and low for a replacement product

samsonshaircare2 karma

Thank you! We can’t charge for samples though! Sometimes what’s great on paper and great day 1 can be terrible for real life. And we would feel bad taking your money for that.

Ping133749 karma

I live 3 hours away in Chicago and I ride a Harley. Is there anyone at the barbershop brave enough to cut my hair after that?

samsonshaircare44 karma

Of course! Just make sure you book a shampoo with the service!

najing_ftw43 karma

What do you think of men that make their facial hair the center point of their personality?

samsonshaircare78 karma

It's a hobby for some folks. I'm glad they've got something. I like to golf, skateboard, drink beer, play music. It's good to have something beyond work to get excited about.

gts47495 karma

Does anyone actually do that? Kind of seems a bit presumptuous.

samsonshaircare38 karma

There are beard competitions and mustache themed things were really trendy a while back. I can enjoy both.

mattimeo_24 karma

Who are “craft men” and why is this brand for them?

samsonshaircare26 karma

Hahaha I see what you did there. We see ourselves as a "craft brand" because we take a bit of an unorthodox approach away from the classic hairgel and hairspray ways of the past. We also make everything by hand in house. In this regard, we most identify with the craft beer industry. Much like craft beer, there will be customers who really do not care at all about the differences, but there will be some who really get excited about the benefits of Vitamin E, Beeswax, Kaolin Clay and essential oil scents.

Coolman_Rosso18 karma

What is the difference between beard balm and beard butter other than hold level? Depending on the brand the terms are either used interchangeably or are reserved for specific products. For example I use Everyman Jack, which have the lighter butter and the thicker balm. However they seem to be culling a considerable amount of their product lines, including the beard stuff I usually use.

How is the balm you make? I'd love to give it a go when i run out of my current stuff.

samsonshaircare21 karma

So there is a conversation in the beard community about creating some sort of uniform code for categorizing product names. Not sure how I feel about this just yet. For me a balm is more dense and a butter is usually whipped. That being said, our balm has

Our balm has a good hold and makes your face extra kissable.

photomike8 karma

Why is it so common for hair care brands to use so much fragrance? I feel like I’m always trying to find a brand that both works for my hair and doesn’t make me want to faint from the inescapability of the scent. This is meant as both an expression of frustration and as a genuine question

samsonshaircare16 karma

It’s a large part of the buying experience. At the end of the day, more people buy after saying it smells good than people who buy after saying it doesn’t have a scent.

But don’t be frustrated! There are a lot of brands offering unscented products. Lockhart’s and Ace High are 2 off the top of my head.

illimitable18 karma

With a business such is this, how have you instituted financial controls and accounting to understand whether you're actually making any money? How long did it take before it was clearly a success or no? What was the go/no go decision point for continuing?

samsonshaircare28 karma

I started doing all of bookkeeping recently so I can keep a closer eye on profitability based on advice from a mentor. We are cash flow positive, but it's a success for me, but Warren Buffett would probably deem in a failure. We've never had a go/no go point, thankfully. Generally, I don't think starting a business is a rational decision.

camo7508 karma

How come this sounds dead like an Advertisement, and not a real AMA!?

Love your products and you guys seem like some real RAD dudes who I would also skateboard and drink beer with!

samsonshaircare0 karma

Idk, man. People who drink beer and skate have jobs, too.

illimitable15 karma

You were very good to answer a question about accounting and money a moment ago.

Another one I'd like to know about entrepreneurship is how you funded (capitalized) your business. Is it debt? Generational wealth? Savings from your previous work?

What sources for startup capital are there for these sorts of things?

samsonshaircare7 karma

We sold a royalty to some friends who had sold their business and wanted to do non-tech investing.

There are lots of sources. Savings, family & friends, grants, debt, pitch competitions.

illimitable12 karma

So despite your previous work in finance, you didn't attempt a bank loan? Interesting.

That's pretty clever to sell a royalty instead of, say, a bond or a share or the like.

samsonshaircare13 karma

Don’t give us too much credit. Our investors are incredibly gracious. I’d worked at a commercial bank so I knew they would’ve laughed in my face had I applied for a loan.

zelenisod3 karma

How hard was the transition from banking job to going solo? Did you have it planned with savings or did you totally risk it?

Do you ship stuff worldwide or are you thinking of expanding to EU?

Best of luck to the team!

samsonshaircare7 karma

Hi! It was a big transition from banking to working in the hair world. Communication is very different in that hardly anyone emails in the hair world. We raised some capital from investors to help with the transition.

We do ship worldwide. Our little collector community is very committed. We aren't the only people doing it this way. Others doing it this way include Lockharts, GlassHands, Papichulo.

We are available in the EU with SprezStyle in Germany. We were hoping to pick up an EU distributor this year but the war in the Ukraine put a stop to that.

Rauntu3 karma

What would you recommend to tame an unruly "natural" beard? I don't like the straightened look, but I've had trouble finding products to make it stay neat.

samsonshaircare4 karma

Balm for sure. Something with more beeswax will provide more hold.

SeantheBangorian3 karma

Live in KZoo and want to try your product. Can I pick it up local here?

samsonshaircare2 karma

Yup! We’ve got a shop downtown next to GreenTop or Lana’s on the mall has our stuff. Otherwise, there are a lot of shops in town with our line.

Ilovekittensomg2 karma

Are there any products you want to make, but can't? Whether it's cost of ingredients, or you can't source packaging, etc.?

Also, is there an ideal batch size?

samsonshaircare9 karma

This is a really good question. We've had some ideas that we've been inspired to make where we most likely have the skillset to pull off but do not have the capital for the necessary compliance reviews and paperwork. A good example would be a pomade that also works as a sunscreen for your scalp. If i were to say it works as a sunscreen, then it needs to be FDA compliant which has a lot of associated costs. Not saying that is a bad thing just that we do not have the capital to afford it currently.

As for your second question, it depends on the product. For our molding products like clays and pomades and styling creams, we like 200-400 units per batch right now even though our melter can do closer to 800. This allows us a very consistent product, and it doesn't require us to work so fast that we need to worry about losing water weight to evaporation.

ftyd2 karma

How much did it cost to get started? Do you have to buy all kinds of licenses to sell product? Seems weird to be able to start with a rice cooker but very cool!

samsonshaircare3 karma

There isn’t really equipment for starting a hair products company so you make due haha. You could launch anywhere from $1k-100k

EphemeralRain1 karma

I have thick, straight, longer (near shoulder length) hair and am never sure what type of product to use.

Is there anything in particular from your catalogue that you recommend?

samsonshaircare1 karma

Depends on what style you're going for. I'd try either Foster the Curl or Matte Styling Cream. Both have easy application and lighter hold with Matte Styling Cream offering more hold if you're looking for a more defined look.

fire_verde1 karma

Best tips for someone with spotty facial hair to transition to a glorious beard?

samsonshaircare23 karma

So there are a couple options. Some folks see success with dermarolling and finasteride. Main advice I would give is to hunker down and be patient. The longer the beard gets, the fuller it will look as the patchier spots will be covered up by the fuller spots. We've never worked together, but DanCBearded on YouTube knows a ton about beards and all the science behind them. Plus he is on YouTube so you can watch his videos at double speed since they are largely informative.

bearkin15 karma


Did you mean minoxidil? I'm no expert, but my understanding is that finasteride DHT blocker, so it just prevents a certain method of balding, and since your face doesn't bald, finasteride won't do anything to it (only head hair). Minoxidil on the other hand promotes hair growth, and that one is actually used for beards. It's also most commonly in a topical ointment form, compared to finasteride which is almost always in pill form.

samsonshaircare5 karma

Sounds like you've done research on it. I'm not at all educated on either besides a few targeted Facebook ads.

rolldamnhawkeyes-29 karma

That’s just simply not true

samsonshaircare6 karma

Which part?

DaIntrawebz-12 karma

Al of it. It’s genetics. Some people can’t grow a beard until they are 30+

samsonshaircare12 karma

That's fair. Genetics do play the largest part, but I felt like I qualified the advice given. I myself don't grow a great beard.

plzwalkslow1 karma

What is your companies net profitability %? I imagine ingredients, labels, packaging, etc.. cut pretty deep into your bottom line. How profitable is a business model like this?

samsonshaircare7 karma

We shoot for 84% gross margin. For net, we broke even last year. Not sure what this year will be.

hadzic1 karma

I’m looking for a natural look, high hold for my hair. Which product would I order? I’d love to try it out. :)

samsonshaircare3 karma

High hold and natural shine, I’d go with our pomade. I don’t have AC in my car and it’s what I use if I know I’m going to be doing lots of highway driving.

rogan19901 karma

The old Gibson amplifier building you say?

Do you have a Gibson Skylark in your office, just for history’s sake?

samsonshaircare3 karma

I do not! I'm always looking for one for history's sake. I'm also looking for a Kalamazoo made Les Paul. Fun Fact: the Whammy bar was invented in Kalamazoo. We've got a great Black woman owned winery called Twine across the street from the building where it was invented.

I literally wander this building all the time looking for old Gibson stuff. I had no idea about the Whammy bar until our retailer in Lexington, KY named Rooster's Nest taught us about it.

nautme2 karma

I take it this is a different building than where the guitar wood shop was? I had a nice personal tour of that shop 40+ years ago when I was picking up some parts for my Super V.

samsonshaircare1 karma

Different building. While some of their amps are known as classics, they weren’t quite as successful as their guitars. Hence this giant building with cheap rent.

_AntiSaint_1 karma

What did you do in banking? I’m in commercial banking and I can understand wanting to leave… lol

samsonshaircare1 karma

I did retail for a commercial bank. We were for decoration only. It was so depressing. We didn’t even have goals.

espero1 karma

Do you miss the office facetime requirements?

samsonshaircare1 karma

Honestly, work from home hasn’t been bad for us. Starting in 2019 means 2020 can’t be worse. It also means people “get” to take care of themselves instead of “have” to take care of themselves which is good for us as a luxury product.

SamGanji1 karma

I’m growing my beard out longer than I have before. My mustache seems to grow significantly faster. Is there a rule of thumb for a length at which to trim the mustache to make it proportional while growing the beard? Do your barbers trim beards with scissors or with an electric razor?

Thanks! I’ll try out some of your products on this mess of a beard I have going on.

samsonshaircare2 karma

Hey! I can be done either way. Look up the “smiling mustache trim trick” for help. Tons of tutorials on YouTube.

FarPerformancef401 karma

Any thoughts on shaving soaps, splashes, and lotions? Might open up more avenues for you.

samsonshaircare1 karma

We have done a lotion but it’s not in production right now because we couldn’t make the price competitive. No progress on shave soaps. Planning for next year. The lack of focus has been that neither of us are religious wet shavers and it felt disingenuous. That being said, I have purchased a razor so I’m excited to start experimenting.

FarPerformancef402 karma

Also what about shampoo bars?

samsonshaircare1 karma

Not yet. We’ve got a regular shampoo for daily use. Most bars we’ve used have been more clarifying and less nourishing.

Idrinktears921 karma

Hey man im looking for a beard/face wash i currently use everyman jack. Im not seeing that combo do you guys have one?

samsonshaircare1 karma

No combo! We just got into cleansers last year with our shampoo and conditioner so the science isn’t too far off!

Aldren1 karma

I can never find a good 'hair barber?'

Most people in my area (Ottawa, Canada) are either on rotation between larger crapper hair chains (and have no experience/creativity) or cut my hair too short (thinking shorter 'traditional' men's cut)

I would love to find a place like this in my area

samsonshaircare2 karma

Best reputation for that area would be Crows Nest. They are a joy to work with on our end.

Aldren1 karma

Crows Nest

Ok, damn. Thank you very much for the recommendation. This is only two blocks from my work :)

samsonshaircare1 karma

Nice! Tell them we sent you!

dasko111 karma

I just wanted to say I love the shop! You guys have assembled a fantastic team and I know I’m going to come out looking great.

Both my brother and I treated our groomsmen to a cut and bead trim the day before our respective weddings. Jake and Claire got us looking fresh for our big day.

My question is, how did you and Jake meet, and how do you guys “divide and conquer” your roles in the company?

samsonshaircare2 karma

Thank you so much! And I’m glad the weddings went well!

We met when I was Jake’s customer years ago. I was in a Bible study he hosted later and then he eventually approached me about doing the brand.

For roles, some of it is inherent. He knows more chemistry and hair. I know more finance, marketing and compliance. The things that either of us could do are easier for neither of us to do like cleaning or taking inventory or taking out trash.

Alfie_ACNH1 karma

I'm a barber in a Reuzel dominated area. I've been looking for another brand of pomade to use, as the product is great but the local Reuzel reps are shady. Do you do wholesale for us in shops to make a little scratch off the sale?

samsonshaircare1 karma

Of course! What part of the country are you? You be Can email me directly at [email protected] or we may have a rep in your areas already.


I feel dumb asking this, but for an approximately inch long beard, how long (time wise) and “aggressively” do you recommend massaging in beard oil?

samsonshaircare1 karma

10-15 seconds. No more aggressively than I’d massage oil into into a steak.

agvkrioni1 karma

How do you get that much volume in your hair!? I want that skill

samsonshaircare3 karma

I had to make sure it wasn’t forced perspective making it look good.

For this I dry styled with our Matte Clay Pomade and my fingers.

OriginalCable91151 karma

I really like your logo! How did you come up with it?

samsonshaircare1 karma

Our friend Jordan knocked it out for us. The broken pillars represent the end of the story when he breaks the pillars to collapse the building and kill everyone at the party.

Heyitsakexx0 karma

As a white guy with thick/curly hair I’m looking for something to help my hair hold it’s natural shape and not have so much volume/loss of shape after brushing. How do you think your foster curl crème would work? Great purpose behind the product btw.

samsonshaircare2 karma

I think it would work great for that! We wanted to come up with something that would work for our bi-racial and PoC kids.

Heyitsakexx2 karma

Thanks. Does it leave a “crispy” feeling? Sorry I don’t know the proper terms probably.

samsonshaircare2 karma

So it sounds like you don’t like the hair gel flakey type. The curl crème should leave that feeling.

mkvgtired0 karma

For a hard to control beard would you recommend your beard oil and balm, or curse of the unruly beard?

samsonshaircare2 karma

Curse of the Unruly Beard will have both balm and oil in there! It's a collab we did with our friends in Lexington, KY.

mkvgtired2 karma

Awesome thanks! Especially when it's humid, I can have problems with it. Which of them has less added fragrance oils?

samsonshaircare2 karma

mmmmmmm they've all got scent, but each has scent descriptions listed if that helps.

morganrs40 karma

What’s the process on deciding what new products to make?

samsonshaircare3 karma

First things first, are we adding anything to the conversation? We aren't going to put the effort into making our version of someone else's product. We only want to produce it if we believe we can truly produce something different and new. Second, is there a demand? Obviously, there will be some overlap, but we try not to have products that redundant. Third, is there an appetite for it? Jake creates at break neck speed and I (Adam) am constantly slowing him down because our customers would get fatigued trying to keep up with his creativity.

morganrs40 karma

Sweet! Hope you know how much I love your brand. You guys rock.

samsonshaircare2 karma

Thank you! We appreciate the support so much! Without customers like you, Samson's doesn't exist.

_thieving0 karma

Do you plan on ever releasing an oil-based line?

samsonshaircare5 karma

Yes! I’ve been using a lot of OB lately to learn more.

JohnnyTomatoSauce3 karma

Nice! Just got into OB about a month ago. Been using them a lot lately myself. I love them

samsonshaircare3 karma

Yes! I like them and get some some great styles. For me, they are a sometimes product.

_thieving2 karma

My body is more than ready for this

samsonshaircare3 karma

Glad you didn’t pick a weirder way to say that.

moreganohh0 karma

If I want to purchase your products, is it best to swing into your barbershop or order them online?

samsonshaircare4 karma

Thank you! Online is easiest for us.

mordecai98-1 karma

How can people with male pattern hair loss keep their head lookin good? What products are best for the chrome dome?

samsonshaircare3 karma

2 options. 1. Embrace it and shave your head. 2. Hair replacement surgery in Turkey.

My business partner is a barber with male pattern hair loss who chose 1.

mordecai982 karma

After embracing and shaving, do I continue to shampoo?

samsonshaircare1 karma

Man, I’m not actually sure. I will save the skin on your scalp is way different than the skin on your face vs the skin on the body.

carlwinslow187-1 karma

Any plans for a vegan line?

samsonshaircare18 karma

Nothing set in stone but we’ve messed with Rice Bran Wax and some stuff is inherently vegan. If you like Vegan, Lodestar has some vegan stuff.

fredandlunchbox-2 karma

What did the growth look like? How many units did you have in the first batch that sold where you were like, “Ok, this could be a business?” How does that compare to now?

There are a lot of full package manufacturers in this space. Why have you decided to produce yourselves instead of starting from a white label product?

Have you done a market analysis? Being that this type of haircare product is kind of niche, do you account for that in market projections? Who is bigger than you that you look at and say, “Wow, they did it right?”

What does success look like for you guys? A publicly traded haircare empire? An acquisition by private capital?

samsonshaircare1 karma

We sold 100 units to our friend who runs an Amazon store in our second month. We thought we were big time.

We legit did not know about manufacturers when we started. Once we were in deep enough to know, it felt like we would be cheating to have someone make it. Not saying that’s true. Just our feelings.

Well, our clay and matte styling cream are very palatable to the average consumer. Those are the ones my friends and family who aren’t “hair people” are always complimenting me on. As far as market size, even we capture 1% of the men’s grooming market in the world, I would have absolutely no idea how to ever spend that money. We look up to Lockhart’s. Steve is a total bro and very cool. For beer, Bell’s Beer is great. They’ve done great for our community while making great products.

There are publicly trader Haircare companies that have maintained their ability to make great products, but that invite some short term outside pressures that might not be worth the pay off. Not against the right acquisition. Most important thing with any future is that our customers are well take care of.

plumpohlily-4 karma

Im late for the party.

Were you the one who formulated your own grooming products? Does your manufacturer also manufacture commercialized products and yoi just rebrand then? What makes your product stand out? What would make a man buy it?

samsonshaircare8 karma

You're not late. You showed up right now time. We even saved a plate for you.

My partner Jake does all of our formulation. He also handles all the manufacturing of all of our products that contain water. If they don't contain water, I manufacture them because there is less chemistry involved. If you check our Instagram and Facebook, we've got a few pictures of us manufacturing the products on there. Mostly we use soapmaking, candlemaking and baking equipment to make our hair products.

Our products stand our for a few reasons,

  1. The products work as advertised. If we say they are going to hold all day and are matte finish, you can expect them to hold all day and have a matte finish.
  2. Our products are easy to use. I can create a product that would hold your hair through a hurricane, but it would be a huge inconvenience for you to apply and remove daily. We aim for the perfect balance of performance and convenience.
  3. We take pride in our customer service. Ever order matters to use and we try our very best to do right by each customer.