Corktown's Beard Balm goes global as it nears $1M sales

When Jon Koller first thought of turning his homemade beard balm into a business, he imagined how he would market it. Four years of business building and bootstrap pulling later, he gets to do that with Beard Balm.

And it's not just because Koller wants to do it -- he needs to. Beard Balm, based in Corktown's Ponyride, is selling its products around the world and closing in on $1 million worth of sales this year. Koller expects to hit the seven-figure milestone by the third quarter.

"We're about even now in sales with what we did all of last year," Koller says.

Beard Balm makes an all-natural, leave-in conditioner for beards and facial hair. The company uses natural products like lanolin oil, coconut oil, and beeswax from a Traverse City farm. Beard Balm sells in 1.5-ounce tins for $16 to $18 a pop. The regular balm and the "Naked," fragrance free version sell for $18 a piece. 

Since releasing its Heavy Duty version a year ago, Beard Balm has focused on expanding sales by hooking up with a national distributor. Beard Balm's products can be bought in every state in the U.S., every country in the European Union, and 12 other countries around the world. Beard Balm has tripled the number of stores carrying its products in the last two months.

"We will probably double it again in the next three months," Koller says.

That success has prompted Beard Balm to grow its team to five people, and will likely add more soon. New hires will do everything from production work to helping with marketing and branding.

"Everything but sales," Koller says.

Sales growth seems to be taking care of itself these days.

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Read more articles by Jon Zemke.

Jon Zemke is a news editor with Model D and its sister publications, Metromode and Concentrate. He's also a small-scale real-estate developer and landlord in the greater downtown Detroit area.
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