The Complete History of Eric Bandholz, So Far
Join us on our Keep On Growing series to dive into the story of Eric Banholz. A reverse from the previous episode, Carlos is interviewing Eric. We're gonna ask a few questions and see where the story takes us, then see if Eric can tell the difference between the scents he helped create when starting Beardbrand.
Eric grew up in South Carolina, with a typical suburban upbringing. His parents are still happily married; mom stayed home and dad went to work. He lived in the same town pretty much his entire life. The thought of moving was always in his head, as he wanted to see what that kind of drastic change was like.
He always felt like he was living someone else's role in life. He went to school, made good grades, followed the rules, and left for college as the next logical step. The Gamecocks were the team on the TV and around the house, so the University of South Carolina was the school of choice, even went on a scholarship too. But, it wasn't until the second half of college where he really felt in control of his life.
Rowing was his activity of choice. Went on to be captain of the team, president of the club, and even helped grow interest to more than 80 members. It was a lot of setting up bank accounts and breaking ground on a lot of new ideas since it was a new club. This really solidified his interest in entrepreneurship, plus is minor in retail didn't hurt.
He boasts to be one of the few people following exactly what they went to school for. Major in marketing & management with a focus in entrepreneurship. eCommerce is about as close as you can get.
After college, he went the safe route. Instead of using his rowing experience to springboard into a career he wanted, he took a job in sales in Austin, Texas, for Dell and Cisco. Whereas his wife took a job in Spokane, Washington. After a few more jobs he was laid off from a job in Charlotte, South Carolina, and began his first of many failed projects.
Married in 2007, to his college sweetheart. Funny story; she broke up with him once, and, heartbroken, he moved to Austin for work. When visiting again, they met up and talked things over then got back together. Marriage is hard though. It's not all easy. They struggled with infertility for about a decade, until they finally conceived a little girl.
She was born a little over three years ago, and that's when a lot of the dark times really began to get brighter. The one thing he'd like to take out of his life is that it took a long time for him to understand the world. He wants to convey her sense of control much sooner than he did, so she can focus on being happy rather than material things.
He had never been a successful entrepreneur, and that always weighed on him cause owning and running your own business really called out to him. Initially, he had his own freelance graphic design for a bit and had he not done that he wouldn't have found the current business partners for Beardbrand. He created a website for one of Lindsey's businesses, and that's how they began to establish trust. And Eric met Jeremy through various different projects he did for him and those around him.
He helped with Start-Up Spokane, Beardbrand, and a project that never got off the ground, LEJJ (Lindsey, Eric, Jeremy, & Josh). It was around that time he was approached by a reporter from the New York Times, and they collectively decided to take Beardbrand and run with it. It seemed the most logical decision, but still had some risk to it. The quote gave them some credibility, and Eric was able to throw a store up on their website in a day or two with a couple of products.
The business only grew from there. He personally didn't pay himself for the first year of Beardbrand. All of it went straight back to the business. Luckily his wife was working, they had savings, and didn't mind eating too much ramen. The first year was really lucky, and Beardbrand took off within that year. It hit the market at just the right time when a lot of guys were growing their beard out.
Beardbrand is helping change the way society views beardsmen. He always felt he wasn't manly enough or burly enough to wear a beard, and wanted help other guys feel they can grow one too. The goal is to break that stigma of how a bearded guy should act, and any prerequisites people feel they need to have before they grow a beard.
He never wanted it to be "Eric's Company". He didn't want people to buy into it just because of him. Rather, he wanted to encourage a community of all different types of looks, beards, backgrounds, and everything! He wanted everyone to feel welcome in the bearded community no matter their background.
In five years, Beardbrand will be seen as a Men's Grooming Company rather than just a beard company. You don't need to have a beard to be a customer. Beard or no beard, it's all about being the man you want to be. We've got a ton of new products coming up, ranging from body care to hair styling. There will be something for everyone and every part of your body