Fredericton – For business partners and spouses Kevin Leboeuf and Alicia Phillips the success of their beard grooming company Educated Beards has been a marathon rather than a sprint.
“At first it was just going to be products for me that Alicia was making; then selling to other people, and then companies, [it] escalated super fast. It’s been a really awesome roller coaster,” says Leboeuf.
In a little over two years, Educated Beard products are now available in 87 to 95 stores across Canada, and in an estimated 100 stores by Christmas.
“We have a 100 per cent re-order rate, meaning anyone who has become a retailer of ours has reordered at least one or two more times from us. Not many companies with a manufacturing-distribution model can say the same,” says Phillips.
Earlier this year, Educated Beards also signed a deal with the Canadian military’s retailer, CANEX, to sell Educated Beards products.
“We carry our products in 17 of CANEX’s stores across the country,” says Phillips.
The duo readily gave credit and praise to Fredericton and province for Educated Beards’ rise.
“We’re so blessed to live in a city like Fredericton and New Brunswick where there are so many startup support companies. A huge part comes of our success from the support we had from taking part in Ignite Fredericton, UNB’s Summer Institute program and working with Kent Murphy and his team at Atlantic Growth Solutions,” says Phillips.
“They really helped us in the long run because they gave us tools to put in our toolbox that we didn’t really have, so being able to use the right tool when necessary has been crucial to our growth and success,” adds Leboeuf.
Leboeuf and Phillips are just as dedicated in giving back to and investing in the province. They chose to hire their own staff, who produce and package the products, and secure warehouse space and production facilities in Fredericton.
“It also helps with quality control to have everything in-house, having hired the people who are making the product that we know and can trust,” Phillips shares.
Their team consists of of seven employees, three of whom are contract employees, and one of which was hired through the federal government’s Return to Work program for military members transitioning out of the forces and entering the workforce.
The company also has 14 ambassadors, non-salaried people who genuinely love their products and brand, representing their products across Canada.
Educated Beards also does a large amount of charity work and community events, and volunteering at the Nashwaaksis Middle School, which has an entrepreneurship program their students can elect to take.
“I truly believe that everything does come full circle, so as much as we’ve been supported by all of these programs, and people, we want to do the same,” says Phillips.
Along with laying the groundwork for partnerships high-end Canadian retailers such as Robert Simmonds and the Duggers, Educated Beards is in the process of expanding to the U.S., closing a deal by the end of October for a couple of locations in New York.
The company will also be attending two large international trade shows in 2020 – New York City in January, then Las Vegas in July.
“We’re really humbled about the New York City show because it is an international show that only accepts 300 exhibitors from all over the world. One of our goals was to establish a premium brand, so starting to be recognized and showing alongside companies like Armani and Gucci is just amazing,” says Phillips.
In the midst of their success and growth, the partners are determined to provide the best quality products for their customers.
“My dad would always say, ‘we’re not rich enough to buy twice, so just invest in something and it will last forever,'” Leboeuf reminisces.
“Part of our strong values is not only to make a product that works amazingly, but to continue to encourage people to educate themselves on the safety of products, how to read labels and why they should or should not be using products,” emphasizes Phillips
“Things like that are really, really important to us and to our company.”