Jim, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a proud veteran of the U.S. Air Force and was a truck/trailer mechanic/welder/fabricator for almost 40 years. Medically retired in early 2016 due to injury. I have worn a beard, off and on, for about 38 years. In mid-2016, I was having a conversation with my son about my beard and the itchiness/beardruff. I was planning on shaving it. He informed me about beard balms and beard oils.
I purchased six different balms and found that even though the descriptions of the products were very different, the scents were really hard to tell apart. I wanted something different that didn’t smell like everyone else wearing a beard. Another conversation with my son, this time about making my own beard balm. I found a recipe online and decided to try it. I made my first scent using Lavender and Sage. It is still one of my favorites. The formula has changed and improved since then. Once I found out what beard balms and oils do for the beard and face, I determined to never be clean-shaven again.
After many, many interviews that went nowhere, I was lamenting to my son about not being able to find a job. He mentioned making a business in beard care products. I was working with the Division of Vocational Rehab (DVR) at the time and asked if there was a self-employment program. I was enrolled in their program in August of 2016. I completed the program in March 2017 but still wasn’t confident that I understood all I should know about becoming a business owner. I was then told about Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI) and their Business Launch Bootcamp. I contacted RMMFI and spoke with them about the program.
I also contacted a few graduates to inquire about their opinion of the Bootcamp. All of them told me that I would be making a huge mistake if I didn’t participate in the Bootcamp. I graduated the RMMFI boot camp in July of 2017 and made my first retail sale at the graduation ceremony. I have taken part in the Veterans in Residence/Bunker Labs boot camp as well. I have also been part of a digital marketing class at D.U. Where I worked with three students to evaluate my website, explore Facebook ads and run a short ad campaign. I have also worked with NewsEd and the Zone Business Connection Center Business Development program.
Since graduating RMMFI, I have been part of many, many markets, fairs, festivals and bazaars around the Denver area. I have an online store at www.docgoodbeard.com and a few retail locations around the Denver metro and Conifer too. I hope to expand my retail reach in the Denver area and I am looking into providing more than just balms and oils. My goal is to provide grooming tools, combs, beard brushes, moustache waxes, mirrors and a complete regimen kit. Doc Goodbeard also supports the VFW National Home for Children through proceeds from sales.
I continue to work with DVR and RMMFI mentors and I attend classes and workshops whenever possible. I have been contacted by the Connected Commerce Council about possibly going to Washington D.C. to speak to our congress members about the struggles that small business startups face in accessing digital media platforms and the complexity of them. I hope to be taking part in the Veteran Entrepreneurship event at the state capital on March 9th. Representative Lois Landgraf will be hosting the event.
I am currently working with a mentor from DVR to help me understand how to properly construct Facebook, Google and Instagram ads. Additionally, I have access to financial mentors through RMMFI that I consult with when needed.
I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have found and received a tremendous amount of support and encouragement that I have gotten. Entrepreneurship is not easy. It takes a phenomenal amount of dedication and perseverance to succeed. I have made friends with many of the folks that have mentored me and I treasure every one. The ongoing education, support, and encouragement is much more than I ever thought possible. I also have the support of some friends that I have known for almost 50 years! All I can say is “Thank you” to everyone that has and continues to help me, but that just doesn’t seem like enough.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There have been many struggles. Read the full article here.
Credit: Voyage Denver