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Case Studies

East Lothian cult personal grooming brand takes root in America

Creating a buzz on social media has helped an East Lothian business, which celebrated its third birthday at the end of October, secure its first two American stockists.

Braw Beard Oils, which was created by John Jackson in 2012, has added The Beard Whisperer in Texas and Grizzy Bear Beardcare in Michigan to the growing list of stockists that sell its handmade facial hair grooming products.

Using social media to market the brand worldwide, John, who has tapped into advice from Business Gateway East Lothian, has also increased his cult celebrity following and more than doubled the number of brand ambassadors, which now includes MMA fighter and UFC athlete, Robert Whiteford, this year.

He said: “The combination of quality products and a solid social media strategy, which Business Gateway has helped me hone, has been the key to Braw Beards success so far. Through Twitter I’ve added Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis, Scottish rugby star Josh Stauss, motocross champion Justin Barcia and American actor Jesse 'Casper' Brown to our fan base, which already includes Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst.

“Our 11 brand ambassadors, who are up and coming names in their chosen fields, are sponsored by Braw Beard and include motorcycle road racer Lee Johnston, model Gary Cassidy and Scottish rock band, The King Lot. Getting the buy-in from personalities has helped Braw Beard reach a phenomenal number of potential customers worldwide.”

He added: “The positive social media chatter is the reason we now have a foothold in America. It may only be two stockists, but their orders are significant. The US can be a hard market to crack for an ‘unknown’ brand so having these businesses on board helps me to test the water. It also gives me more weight when speaking to distributors who could potentially take my products coast-to-coast.”

The combination of quality products and a solid social media strategy, which Business Gateway has helped me hone, has been the key to Braw Beards success so far.

With sales increasing year-on-year, John has launched a limited edition beard oil called ‘12-15’ in celebration of his business’ third anniversary. The 400 bottles - on sale at www.brawbeardoils.com - were officially launched at an invite-only birthday party held on Saturday (October 24th).

John said: “I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years who have supported the business and the party was a way to say thank you to them. I'm always amazed by the popularity of my products, it's very humbling. I work hard to make my brand the best I can. When I hear people enjoying it, it makes it all worthwhile. I've had messages from people I look up to saying they love the products and that's very cool.”

Having worked with Business Gateway East Lothian when he first launched the business, the 31-year-old returned for further assistance earlier this year. With the help of his adviser, John has put plans in place that will allow him build on the brand's current success, with the ultimate aim being to make it the number one choice in beard grooming products worldwide.

He said: “As I grow the brand I want to ensure that I continue to hit my target market and bring in new customers – and that’s why I went back to Business Gateway. Working with my adviser and attending a number of workshops has helped me fine tune my marketing and social media strategy, given me greater confidence moving forward.”

Stephen Newlin, adviser, Business Gateway said: “John came up with the idea for the business after he found conventional shampoo dried out his own beard. Using the knowledge he gained while training as a massage therapist, he made his first product which was an immediate hit. Now, as well as selling a wide range of beard grooming products, John has branched into accessories and branded clothing. He has grown brand recognition using social media which is both savvy and cost effective. However, creating social media noise takes time and determination because the platforms are ever evolving. Working with us John has laid down plans that will help him gain more exposure and ultimately more sales for his products.”

Photo courtesy of Colin Usher.

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