Roam Free, Stay Wild – Behind the Business with Griffin’s Jordan Brothers
As a hirsute – a word which here means, ‘gloriously hairy, especially in the face’ – man, I appreciate people that take the time to craft products designed to keep the glory under control. There’s a lot of work that goes into keeping a beard ship shape. For Dan and Jeff Jordan, it’s not just a daily routine, but a passion and now a career.
As the founders of Toronto-based Griffin brand beard products, they’re doing the lord’s work when it comes to facial hair care, so for our interview series on small businesses using Shopify’s ecommerce solutions, we asked the Jordan brothers why they got started, how they’re making their business a success and what the future might hold.
So tell us about Griffin. What is it that you do and who are your customers?
Griffin is a beard care company but we think of ourselves as more than that; our brand is a lifestyle. Our products not only smell great but are designed to help to maintain a healthy beard. At the moment our products include a beard oil, beard balm and soap, and we also have t-shirts as well as new products we’re launching in the coming months. For our newest one we’ve teamed up with Muskoka Brewery and created a Mad Tom IPA beard and body soap.
How did you decide to get into men’s grooming?
We were both growing beards and having a beard can be a lot of work – it gets dry and itchy. We started hearing about products out there that helped to keep beards healthy and clean. After we tried some of them we weren’t that impressed – some worked great but didn’t smell that good. We thought they could be better, next thing you know we were making our own. Not only was it fun but friends who tried them kept asking for more so, we just thought – lets give this a try!
We got to work. It was important that we get it right. Not only did we want our products to stand above the rest, our brand had to have attitude, be classic, manly and cool. Griffin couldn’t be just a beard company. We wanted it to be bigger–a brand that could branch out into other directions.
They say that to be successful you have to be passionate; why do you love what you do?
It’s pretty cool to watch what started as a small idea grow and gather momentum. It feels pretty great knowing that people are diggin’ what we’re doing and are following us as we grow. Not only that, it’s fun and if you’re not having fun there’s no sense in doing something.
Has it been smooth sailing or have you overcome adversity to get where you are?
It hasn’t been easy but that’s to be expected. Starting a company from the ground up is a lot of work, so we’re constantly learning.
We all know that crazy happens. What’s the wildest thing that’s happened on the job?
I think the wildest thing so far, was when we were in LouLou Magazine, and Chatelaine, and then on Cityline all within two weeks. The online store was going nuts and we quickly sold out of all our products. My old cell phone died because of all the notifications!
What do you do with your time off? Are you familiar with that concept?
HA! Time off? No such thing. We’re always thinking about what to do next, what we can do better, and how we can continue to stand out from our competitors.
This is the age of the social network. How important is social media to your business and how do you make it work?
Social media is everything. Everyone is online and we wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for social media. This an area where we are constantly learning and trying out new things – what worked yesterday might not work today. It’s pretty crucial for a company like ours to really be on top of this. We’re trying new apps and other tools to help us with marketing, managing our time and creating awareness. We are always looking to make sure our SEO and content is strong and to have our site show up on search engines. In order for anyone know you exist, you have to be continually looking for opportunities for social networking.
What does supporting local mean to you?
This is what we are all about! We’re a local company and it’s pretty cool to see the support we’ve received from independent shops and other companies. It’s really about supporting the community and building it.
When did you realize that you were going to embrace ecommerce?
We really had no choice – we can only really exist online. So, eCommerce has always been the focus. We are in shops but we really want those online sales.
How did you find Shopify and why did you decide to try them out?
Dan found Shopify – he has his own creative design business and part of that is building online stores for his clients. When Shopify came out he was all over them – they’re Canadian, they are a forward thinking company and creating lots of cool new innovations. The POS system was also a key factor for us. We want to be able to walk into our wholesale shops, and place orders on our iPhones, without having paper work. It also handles the orders, emails and inventory, it’s awesome.
What does this enable you to do as a small business owner?
It allows us to sell online and offline. Attend events, sell in person and keep everything organized in one place. It allows us to integrate apps into our shop that will help us grow and attract more followers. If I knew anyone that was looking to start a store, regardless if it was online or a retail location, I would highly suggest using Shopify. They have the most amazing 24/7 support, all the POS hardware, Design Experts to help you with creating your site, or just help you set it up.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
We’ve got plans for some new products and events that we’ll be attending. So building the company and awareness is really our focus.
Do you have any advice for aspiring business owners just starting out?
Make sure you are passionate about what you are doing! Keep it simple, follow your instincts and spend that extra time on branding – it’s key.