A North East barber is proving a huge hit overseas after launching his own range of men’s shaving products.
Glaswegian barber turned entrepreneur Iain Kane had been barbering for 35 years before moving to County Durham to launch Village Barber.
Iain said: "As a traditional barber for many years, I was being continually asked for advice on the best shaving products. Most, if not all commercially available 'shaving products' were loaded with chemicals.
“I set out to find, or have produced, a completely natural, chemical and paraben free product that would not only give the best shave but would also leave the face feeling great and irritation free.”
This led to him launching his own range of men’s shaving oils and balms which he began selling from the shop in Langley Park before branching out and selling them online.
Now, as well as proving a hit among his customers in the North East, Iain is shipping his products to customers as far away as the USA after exploring export opportunities outside of the UK.
“We have been selling well across Europe but we’ve also noticed a really big number of orders coming in from men in the USA,” he said. “We have been distributing to all parts of America, from California to New York and Chicago.”
Iain believes the rise in orders comes from the current trend for wet shaving which is sweeping North America.
Unlike Britain where beards have been big business for last four years, in America men still prefer to be clean shaven and are now spending more time and money looking after their face and skin.
And one product which is much harder to source stateside is shaving oil.
“Over the last couple of years men have become more aware of how to get a good shave, but shaving oil, as a stand-alone product - without the added use of foams and gels - is something which is still quite a new concept to America,” added Iain.
“We’ve had many people coming to us asking about our Shaving Oil, and this is proving to be a very popular seller. Clients love the smoothness of the shave as well as the scent, and we’ve had a real upturn in orders recently.”
But, this success hasn’t come without its challenges. As Iain points out: “The single biggest challenge in exporting to the USA is getting your products passed their Customs – or to be more specific – the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). As Village Barber products contain oils – albeit natural oils – they have to pass the USA’s strict criteria on the import of such substances.
“This initially caused problems by way of seemingly endless delays in retailers receiving their consignments – The US FDA would routinely hold the consignment for around 10 days before even asking us what they wanted to know. This proved to be a huge frustration for us as they would inevitably ask the same questions with every delayed consignment!
“In order to circumnavigate these perpetual delays, I decided to voluntarily register Village Barber products on the US FDA’s own national database. This entails, rather laboriously, inputting each separate ingredient of each product onto their rather comprehensive database. Rather unsurprisingly, it took a while to complete as the full Latin names of each oil had to be entered individually!
“However, after registering each and every individual ingredient (in Latin) in our Village Barber Shaving Oil and Aftershave Balm and prominently highlighting the fact that our products were registered on their database, we soon noticed that the delay times dramatically reduced.”
Village Barber Shaving Oil is 100% natural and paraben free, and has been designed to give the most comfortable shave possible – particularly to men with sensitive skin.
And as well as selling well across America, Village Barber’s products are also gaining popularity across Europe including Russia, Spain and Scandinavia and have won acclaim from male grooming experts, beauty editors, and bloggers.
Does your business have a product or service which could easily be transferred overseas? If so, why not see if exporting is right for you?
Iain’s top tips for aspiring exporters:
Do your homework!
Depending on the quantities that you are exporting, you can really save yourself a lot of time (and headache tablets!) if you know how to go about things properly. It will certainly be worthwhile to attend a fully subsidised course on ‘Exporting’ (there are quite a few to choose from) where you can learn the basics of what to do and what not to do.
Exporting, whilst at times challenging, can seriously improve your sales figures – particularly if you’re dealing with a huge market like the USA. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that, if you’re not exporting when you’re in a position to do so, you are doing your business a great disservice. If you have a product or products that you honestly believe in, and particularly if they can help someone with a particular problem, then why not make them available worldwide so that as many as possible can benefit from them.
With the advent of the internet which brings the world to your business, exporting really has never been more affordable and easy.