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We chat with Matthew Smith from Beard Smith.

We chat with Matthew Smith from Beard Smith.

by Ethan Freemantle

Mens Grooming is on the up in this country and we catch up with the man behind the company who specialises in Beard Care,

Matthew Smith tell us a bit about your company
My name is Matthew Smith, I’m basically the everything behind Beard Smith my beard care company.

I’m 43 now and in 2015 my second son was born and I kind of let my self go for a while and started growing my first beard, and it looked alright but I couldn’t really find anything to properly clean it or keep it moisturised, there was some stuff online but it was expensive and not very good, so I started to wonder if there could be a market for it, there was a big beard craze around the time.

“Men have a bit more flexibility in what they can look like or how they can be now”.

“I’m a nurse by trade so i’ve got a bit of biology and chemistry behind me, so I went out into my shed and started trying to figure out how to make the products from scratch”.

I’d never done soap making before but i kinda learned a bit off youtube, talking to a few people and learned the traditional techniques. I tried out my fledgeling products on guys at work got them to try it on and see how it felt, and everyone was really complimentary about it.

I did have a fright one day when I gave it to a senior doctor who was quite well known for his beard, about a week later I came into work and his beard was a different colour and I thought it had something to do with my products.

You’ve said you started out in your shed. Is it really that simple? You can do it anywhere? Maybe for the first steps of trying to make something if you’re not going to sell something and you want to try and figure out how something works. I had a fairly decent shed and I knew what equipment I needed. Originally I used stuff I already had, kitchen utensils and a portable stove top we used to use for camping. The internet has soap calculators to work out your mixes and the amount of lye needed. Obviously it’s changed since then, a bit more industrial.

And as a nurse, how are you able to balance two jobs on top of family life?
It was tough for a little while, like I said, I started when my son was born, which was probably the worst time to take on even more responsibility. It was a lot of late nights, making and packing up orders and weekends, but the internet is a blessing and a lot of my focus is selling online. And I have quite good systems where I have a blast of creating products and things and a couple of nights a week processing orders. I’ve got quite a nice balance these days which makes it things easier. It’s about systems.

“The good thing about soaps is that they don’t really go bad if you’ve treated them correctly”.

Soap making
Soap makings been happening for hundreds of years, using naturally occurring lye with oils to make soap. I suppose it’s all about preparation really for me, I know my process, I know my reactions, measuring out ingredients. When you started blending to make a batch of about a hundred, it’s going to take me a couple hours and then about two to three weeks while that cures and hardens.

Where do you source materials?
It can be anywhere, all my ingredients are raw ingredients, I use Bomar up the country, that sell raw ingredients for soap and candle making. I could try to source them outside Ireland but I like sourcing from Ireland. I try to use recycled materials as much as I can. The soap is wrapped in paper with string, the shampoos use recycled bottles, the beard oil is in glass bottles and the wax comes in tins. I try to be conscious of that, which is easier for me being a smaller company.

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“One thing I found with local business, was I already worked in healthcare, public service. And I always thought that going into the private sector would be a dog eat dog world. But it’s been amazing, the help and encouragement business have given me.

Do you supply products to local business?
Horan’s health stores and also McMahons Barbershop has a full range of products. It’s a difficult thing with me, barbershops seem like the ideal place to supply these things. Maybe it’s because we’re lazy, but we’re not necessarily going to shop in there, Being a one man band and working full time I very quickly saw a number of places selling but I’m making all the products myself and selling wholesale, so I prefer to sell online.

There’s a lot of word of mouth, which comes back to quality. I tend to say if I get a customer I tend to keep that customer. Most guys will notice a difference when they use these products.

When I started the kids were quite young and it seemed like a nice thing to do, to have my own business. After covid came in I realised the important things in life, family. Rather then get rid of beardsmith its nice to have something they can be involved in, so i’ve brought my kids in and getting them involved with seeing where I’m going seeing what I’m doing. The important thing is them seeing the process, and the value. They’re always interested by when I get an order coming through and I can show them the value of the work.

One of the big things is local business, When I started there was no problems or issues, there was a lot of help, advice. It was great to be able to liaise with other businesses.

Beardsmith products can be found online or in local retailers such as Horan’s health store, the gentleman’s barber in listowel or McMahon’s barbers. Thank you to Matt for agreeing to the interview and thank you for reading.

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