Although there are no specific laws prohibiting beards in Malaysia, some employers have enforced a “no-facial hair” policy within their organisations.
Discrimination against bearded individuals in the workplace has fueled the start of one brand that stands up to it: Beard.On.
Jeremy Devarajoo, an ex-finance manager at a local bank, founded the brand after being told by his superior that his beard “had to go.”
Sparked by a single remark
Traditional beliefs suggest that beards aren’t part of a professional look, and in the past, many people were advised to shave prior to a job interview.
In my personal opinion, this makes sense for men who work in the food service industry, where employers require the workforce to be clean shaven and wear nets to prevent hair from falling into food for hygiene reasons.
But, does it apply to everyone?
Jeremy worked primarily at his desk, away from other people. “To be honest, I was surprised because I wasn’t meeting clients and I only worked with internal people to get my work done,” he expressed. “At first, yes, I felt discriminated against, but then I understood that they did not understand the beard culture.”
As all bearded men do, he has always taken pride in growing his lush beard. Some may believe that beards today are symbolic of male dominance, sexual virility, and overall prestige.
Feeling unwelcome in his workplace, the finance manager left the bank to launch his own business, not only to sell men’s grooming products, but also to educate people about beard culture.
A business idea taking root
With a focus on creating beard oil, hair serum, and other related products that could promote hair growth, Jeremy wanted to provide high-quality grooming products that actually work.
“We believe [that] every man should have access to what he needs to maximise his potential and put his best face forward,” he envisaged.
During the R&D phase, Jeremy had help from his wife. His sister, who is a certified beautician, also joined. They consulted tutorials online and experimented extensively to arrive at the best possible formula.
“We use only the highest quality natural ingredients for our products which we source from all over the world,” the entrepreneur explained. “We’ve been in the market for over five years and we have been improving our products [almost] to perfection.”
But no great product can conquer the market on its own. They knew they needed to validate their theories and conduct further market research.
Consumer interviews are widely recognised as one of the most effective methods for businesses to learn what their customers think about their plans for packaging, ingredient choices, and other factors.
Entrepreneurs can use it to learn more about their customers’ purchasing habits and how they make decisions about what they buy.
Knowing the significance of this, Jeremy and his team conducted interviews with bearded men in order to collect responses and obtain feedback on whether or not to proceed with specific plans. And, fortunately, the results were clear: they had chosen the correct course of action for the market.
Controlled and purposeful growth
Beard.On initially advertised its products on popular local e-commerce giants such as Lazada and Shopee. “They were the biggest online marketplace at the moment, and the cost of entry was close to nothing,” Jeremy stated. “They already have millions of customers, which means we can introduce our products to them.”
They sold approximately 200 to 250 products per month in their early stages, which equates to roughly RM12K-RM15K in sales. The team had established that as their monthly target in order to maintain the sales volume.
However, since the pandemic hit, the company has been forced to adapt by switching to survival mode. “We spend heavily on R&D, marketing, and other stuff. Yes, we are profitable, but not close to our target yet,” shared the founder.
Other than participating in local e-commerce platforms, Jeremy also often collaborates with local celebrities to gain brand and product awareness. In the past, Beard.On has been promoted by Traxx FM’s DoubleD and stand-up comedians such as Prakash Daniel and Kevin Jay, all of whom are in line with their target audience (people growing beards).
Since Beard.On relies heavily on its online presence, the husband and wife duo devotes considerable time to creating online blogs committed to educational beard-related content. For instance, some of the content discusses the benefits of beard balm and beard oil, as well as how to stimulate the growth of beards.
“We also use our social media platforms to educate society,” Jeremy said.
Recognising the value of search engine optimisation (SEO), Jeremy understands that blogs can assist potential customers in finding Beard.On more easily when conducting a Google search. Simultaneously, he is constantly looking for ways to improve his search performance over time.
Having recently launched their website in the past year, they can now deliver their products confidently to other parts of the world.
While the company has enabled global shipping, Jeremy knows that it does not guarantee demand certainty.
Therefore, to increase sales, the team at Beard.On will concentrate on marketing their products in the South Asia region, with the goal of eventually creating strong international demand and becoming the market leader in beard grooming products.
Featured Image Credit: Beard.On