1 on 1 With Kent & Bond
Not to long ago I did a review on Kent & Bond’s signature body Bricks and loved them but I wanted to get some inside scoop on the products and brand. I got in contact with the Co-Founder, Benjamin Bond, to pick his brain a bit. Below is the great conversation we had:
Aj: To kick things off, give me some background on Kent & Bond. How did things get started for you guys and how did the idea of opening a grooming brand come into play?
Kent & Bond was really born from a personal need. Both my co-founder and I, for various reasons, started getting very interested in organic personal care for all the reasons you would expect. Just [being] curious about the chemicals used in everyday products, um, looking for a more natural alternative. I was exposed to organic personal care, meaning I was looking at the products myself, and the spark was holding these organic ingredients in my hand and being like this feels right, this feels like what it should feel like. From there it was the curiosity of wanting to use this for myself and asking myself what brands can I go to for this. Very quickly realizing that no one was making and marketing organic grooming for men.; it just was not in the marketing place. There are a lot of guys interested in organic personal care and consuming organic foods so it only make since that there should be that option in the grooming market place.
If you look at the women’s side of things, there is easily 30 plus organic cosmetic or beauty brands in the market place so clearly it’s a very ignored segment for men’s grooming; it came down to if we want this and nobody else is doing it then we’re going to do it. That was the spark that set things off. Then in the process we realized there was a lot of other short comings in kind of what the status quo is for men’s grooming so it was about let’s make this organic product offering for guys but also let’s try and create what should be the expectation for men’s grooming. There’s the e-commerce model, having goods delivered to your door for free on an automatic cadence that you don’t have to think about. These are all things guys should be able to expect from their grooming products but for whatever reason they don’t. Um, and so they are stuck in this ugly loop of having to go to the pharmacy and pick up the one item that they are out of and having to make a detour in there commute, go find it on the shelf, buy it and then you know mostly likely using a inferior product from a brand they don’t really connect with per say. You know, there are all these shortcomings; let’s just build what we think it should be. That included the free shipping, the auto re-ordering feature, and the buy one give one model. All these things are what we think it should have been so that’s what we are doing at Kent & Bond.
Aj: That sounds pretty great man; in reality men’s grooming is still in a beginning stage and still is going through the growing process. I agree with what you are saying and I see what you guys are trying to do.
Most men out there are pretty uneducated about having a fully effective grooming regiment. A lot of men are like shampoo, soap and shave, that’s it and that’s what I do. They don’t have any of the extra nuances or add on’s that can really benefit you because they are completely unaware and no one has really told them what to do. Whatever it’s people like you or even brands, that’s what we really want to offer as well. Obviously we can do a better job at it and that is a core thing we are focusing on as we move forward as a brand. In a lot of ways, brands almost have the responsibility because they are the ones putting the products out there and influencing the market place so why shouldn’t they also be the ones to educate people. That’s something we think all grooming brands can do a better job of and we want to become the gold standard there.
Aj: Take us through some of the thoughts and things that was brainstormed when coming up with new products and new ideas. How does Kent & Bond come up with new products expanding under the brand?
There are two major concerns when we are thinking about making a new product. How does it fit in a business prospective: cost, inventory investment, return on investment, and strategic positioning in the market place. Those are all obvious concerns, umm, and then it’s all about quality. We source from many different suppliers, we look for people that can help make our products exclusively based on quality. We are truly looking for experts in the very specific product we are looking for. For example, our body bricks, we went with a bar soap manufacturer who has been specializing in organic cold process bar soaps for the past several decades and they are truly experts in it. It’s the only product they make and they do a great job in it. That kind of carries on through to the actual products; I mean, tons of testing and what is available within the market place, we look for what other people have done and how can we learn from them and how we can improve on it. We incorporate as much as that as possible. We do have the restrictions of it has to be organic but drives us to be more creative. We test and tweak until we love it. We have to really enjoy using it for ourselves and so its like we want it to be special. We try to focus on craftsmanship and legacy and making something that is the absolute pinnacle of quality.
Aj: A lot of people believe if it says natural on it then it’s organic and that is totally not true. Natural is labeled on everything and people are like, “O it’s organic and natural”, but no they are two very different things. I like the fact that you guys are not only labeling your product as organic but actually using organic ingredients and making sure you are only working with people who are following the same organic guidelines.
Yea absolutely, you look at our grooming line now and the grand scheme of things it’s very limited. It’s a lot of products whether it’s skin care or shaving or other moisturizers we just haven’t tapped into yet. One product type that is very important to us is shampoo. We are actively working on that now, we really want to get to a point where guys can have a full Kent & Bond shower. Whether it’s the bar soap, shampoo, body wash and conditioner, or what have you, they can relay on our brand for the whole spectrum. Another product area we are working on right now is shaving, we are working on a wet shave line in hopes we can add on a shaving cream, pre shave oil and aftershave balm. All really great products and very critical for men to have in their grooming regiment. We’ve actually done a couple of test runs on a shaving soap bar that has done very well.
Aj: What’s next for Kent & Bond?
Really we are going to keep introducing fantastic products like the ones that I was just mentioning. We are going to be introducing new product categories, like the shampoo and shave. We are focused on building onto our website so it is the ultimate shopping experience; even if it is just conveying the brand and product information in the most optimum way for really building out that auto replenishment feature so that it is super stream line for the customer; they don’t have to think about it. Also, building onto the green resource piece because we feel like a brand we have a responsibility as a brand to educate our costumers. Many men feel like they don’t need to use moisturizers but the education from the brand might change that.
Aj: Ben it was really good talking to you for the last 20 minutes. I enjoyed getting to know the brand some and getting insight from you on how you build products and even knowing your thoughts behind the branding and brand development.