How 2 young entrepreneurs went from 0 to a million dollar brand in the men’s skincare industry
Recently, Kevin Niehoff and Ben Feys were guests at the Two Ecomm Experts Podcast (a podcast hosted by the founder of Markademics Viktor Stoilov, you can check the episode here), where they told the story about their brand PrettyBoy.
Not long after starting production, their product became the best gel moisturizer for oily and dry skin according to a dermatologist. The 6-in-1 lightweight gel moisturizer sky-rocketed in the industry with its well thought out formula and innovative design.
But what made them create such a product?
The skincare industry nowadays is dominated by brands seemingly driven more by profit motives than the quality of ingredients in their products. Kevin having problems with eczema and Ben being self-conscious about his acne, they decided to create an unprecedented product.
A product that can help men feel more confident in their appearance, as well as being easily applicable and еffective.
Although the skincare niche is hard, they wanted to differentiate PrettyBoy from others. Before starting to produce their revolutionary skincare product they decided to do a survey. By understanding the weak points in the industry, they maximized their chances in helping men be more comfortable in their skin, preventing future complications. The main idea behind their brand is not only to sell skincare, but also confidence.
On one hand, from the survey, they learned that guys won’t buy something that doesn’t work. On the other hand as a brand they wanted to be able to bundle, which would increase the average order value. But having a tight budget, they decided to produce an all-in-one product to keep the high quality men wanted.
Faced with the complexity of such a product, they managed to find the right dermatologist, who gave them the green light to start producing it.
They discovered there wasn’t that much lifestyle presence in their initial marketing funnel. So, they decided to invest most of their finances and time to apply more trendy concepts into the men’s skincare niche and also keep the clinical facts. Being scrappy with the content to fit everything in and looking at their resources was important for them.
When asked by the host, Viktor Stoilov, about their initial marketing: “When you launched, did you start with Facebook ads and what was the first page of the channel?”
They say that they started with Facebook and it is still their primary source of traffic.
Now, they are starting to experiment more on TikTok, thinking about some podcasts, sponsorships and how they can acquire customers a little more cheaply.
“The goal right now for us is we’re trying to kind of elevate our vision, but authenticity is the biggest thing and people can see through a lot through the bullshit.”
They said that they don’t have a specific ad formula. What really brought them profitability is that they’re implementing UGC in video and ad format, which come much more authentic and this is where it really went up for them.
Viktor (the host) adds that he had talked with Alex Fedotoff (a big influencer in the Ecomm world), that they had never had a situation where a $10 000 video is working better than a $50 UGC one, too.
Affecting the process of building retention and increasing the amount of people that buy again and again for PrettyBoy is:
Firsty, their subscription channel is very good, people say, but they want to increase the average duration of time, which now is 190 days. So they would really like to see some growth.
Secondly, Ben says that they have talked with a couple founders and usually some people have been slower to adapt email and SMS early in the journey.
However, they were from the start on email and later on SMS. Those mediums have worked well for them.
Ben says: “We need to do more price testing. What we see is that when we give offers, whether that is 20% off or BOGO (buy one, get one), which has done an absolute rock solid for us and people do come back”
They say that their product is too valuable to be a discount brand and they just have to get the right messaging.
Mistakes they have done, operating the business
Firstly, over ordering plays a big role in learning the importance of the cash conversion cycle.
Ben says: “We recently negotiated with our manufacturer that we’re going to pay 100% on delivery up until this point, we were doing 30% for order and 70% delivery and 6 month lead time.
Ex. “On a $100 000 order we are out $100 000 in cash before we take a penny in. Our cash conversion cycle was 179 days.”
Despite the fact that they are producing in the USA, their cash conversion cycle was at 6 months. The biggest mistake that they make is that they didn’t take the cash conversion cycle into a full account and that’s why they had made mistakes.
What they did is placing a 25 000 unit order, because they thought that the $0.50 they would get in savings was worth it.
In situations like this you can’t scale that fast and make the most of your ad account, therefore that can cause losing big opportunities.
Another mistake that they make is that they don’t experiment as much with ads.
“Facebook is almost like a black pit for us, you can’t hack mastering it.
Better pick simultaneously to Facebook one other thing to master that is actually masterful.”
Interested in their work ethic, the host then asks: “What was the best hiring or contracting that you did that broke a bottleneck in your business?”
Kevin says: “Our best hire was being able to find our contract manufacturer I would say, because he was the one that helped us get the product”
Another best hire is that they managed to find a content writer, who can align with them as part of their demographic.
In conclusion, the journey of PrettyBoy, as shared by Kevin Niehoff and Ben Feys, transformed frustration into e-commerce triumph. From addressing personal and men’s skincare concerns to creating a million-dollar brand, their story is one of resilience, innovation and a commitment to authenticity. By identifying gaps in the skincare industry through strategic surveys and prioritizing quality over quantity, PrettyBoy changed the market completely.