As an African-American male I can tell you personally how important it is to maintain a healthy beard. Edward B Oliver, the Business Management graduate of Norfolk State University seen that the market was failing to produce a product for nourishing African-Americans beards, so he decided to create his own organic line of beard care products. In an exclusive interview with Edward Oliver, the creator of E.B.O Beard Butter, he shares some insight into being an entrepreneur, what motivated him to start creating his own product, and how women can also use his beard butter.
So you graduated from Norfolk State University. A lot of entrepreneurs feel as if college is unnecessary because instead of paying back student loans they can invest that into their business. How do you feel about that? Do you feel as if college helped or hindered you as an entrepreneur?
I feel like college has both positive and negative effects on my business. I say that because of the debt and things like that have affected my personal life but going to college helped because of the networking and connections I made in college helped my business grow. People I met in school promote my product and help me by purchasing and telling other people. Many of my customers are people that went to Norfolk State or have some ties to someone who has went to Norfolk State. College did help and hinder but the end of the day its about you as a person to make decisions and things to take entrepreneurship seriously. Going to college or not has nothing to do with it if you don’t put the effort in on your own.
I discovered your magic Beard Butter on Twitter. You and your products receive a lot of love and you always leave customers satisfied. What inspired you to start making your own product?
What made me want to start it is was I had a beard but it wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I began trying other products but it wasn’t catered to the hair of black men. So my mom who has a business in natural skin products (Caravan Organics) I asked her was it a way to come up with something for my beard. So after some research some trial and error I made something and I liked what it did for my beard but I never planned to sell it, it was just something for me. I created it in May 2014 but I didn’t even decide to sell it and turn it into a actual product to sell until November 2014 so for those 6 months it was just something I was using for myself.
I know you don’t want to give away any of your special ingredients, but what goes into the E.B.O Beard Butter? Is it organic?
Though I can’t give away all my secrets the key basis of my product is coconut oil & shea butter along with vitamins and Essential oils that I like to use I more so consider it all natural and organic because I don’t use chemicals in it. Me being a black man and knowing how sensitive our skin and how we break out easily I make sure I use the right ingredients so not only that it makes your beard great it doesn’t irritate your skin.
You said that your Mom makes organic products also how did this influence you and did she help you with your business?
She stressed the importance of using the right things when I make it and how its important to use all natural ingredients even if it cost more the customer will appreciate it more in the long run and it’ll be beneficial to me and she was correct.
How did you raise capital to finance your business?
I used money from my other business I had going where I would find vintage clothing at flea markets, thrift stores, etc and buy it for a small amount and sell it for a profit I used funds I earned from that to finance E.B.O Beard Butter in the beginning.
You said you used your other business of selling vintage clothing to fund EBO Beard Butter. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Where did you sell the clothes, did you have an online shop, eBay or just sold to friends?
Well it’s a business me and a friend of mine started in February 2014.We named it Gold & Thread.We would buy things from people,go to flea markets,thrift stores etc and buy items we know that would sell and make a profit.We used Instagram(@GoldXthread) to promote and post things and it’s been successful.I need to get back to it tho but my other business #EBOBEARDBUTTER takes up so much of my time
Yeah man I’m sure it does take up a lot of your time. Your a one man engine behind EBO Beard Butter. But I just checked out Gold & Thread and it definitely seems like a profitable business.
Yea my boy still works on it we both be busy but we plan to get back to it in 2017
That’s dope man but back to the Beard Butter. What has been your most effective form of advertising?
My most effective form has been social media because it’s also has a word of mouth aspect to it as well. Customers see my product via twitter, facebook, snapchat, Instagram and want to see what its all about. Then customers would give my product a Shout out from their page or recommend it to their followers to try which has brought me a lot business as well as it being a free form of promotion.
Okay, so we know that customers use your product for their beard but is it good on hair and can women also use it?
You started creating this butter because there wasn’t anything on the market that catered to your needs. Do you expect to expand your product offerings? Or stick to just beards?
I plan to create more products that cater to the beard outside of just the Beard Butter. I’m currently working on a Beard wash that customers can wash their beard with then apply the beard butter after it so they can have the best of both worlds. As well as I’m planning on working on natural hair products for women as well because they have been complaining that I don’t make anything for them so im working on that as well.
It’s important that we not only support small businesses, but black businesses in general. You said that you contribute back to your community with the money you make from your business, how do you give back?
Well what I like to do is I like to feed the homeless in DC where im from. Many people come to DC and think its such a big rich city but its MANY people in need. So for the last couple years I take money from my business and buy food and drinks and go downtown with my friends at night and pass out food, blankets, coats and things to the people in need. When you actually go out there and really talk with the people you learn how they got to that point, how it isn’t resources to help people look past them like they aren’t human. My goal is to fund programs in the future to help people with the transition from being homeless to helping them find a place to live, a job to generate income for themselves and reinsert them into society and hopefully they help the next person and bring the homeless rate down that’s my goal so I put my money toward that.
What is your favorite butter, and what is your best seller?
For me its hard to say which beard butter I love it’s like choosing between your favorite child. I use each 1 depending on my mood or the type of event im attending. My top 5 Best Sellers are Ladies Love It, Mango Madness, Aruba Coconut, Finesse and OMG.
How many partners do you have and do you have employees? If so how many?
I have zero partners I’m a 1 man operation I make all the decisions. I take input from customers and people around me but end of the day I make all the final decisions.
What has been the toughest part about being a young entrepreneur?
The toughest part about it honestly has been keep my confidence up and believing in myself that I can be successful. Self-doubt has been a major struggle because you have so many expectations for yourself and you always question are you doing the right thing, is it progressing, is it all worth it. That’s really 1 of the hardest things because nobody wants to fail but you have to be positive and not only put the effort in physically you have to mentally put it into your head that what you doing is right and that you will be successful.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
In 5 years I see my business as a house hold name like apple or something like that. I want E.B.O Beard Butter to be in barbershops, dorm rooms, hotels I want it to be a part of everyone’s routine like brushing their teeth, taking a shower, using E.B.O Beard Butter has to be a part of your daily routine to get ready for the work day or leisure.
What do you currently have in the works?
Currently im just working on the shampoo I want to release for customers to wash their beards with so that you have a full grooming E.B.O Kit.
I want to thank you for talking with me today about yourself and your E.B.O. Beard Butter. Do you have any shout outs?
I want to shout out you for reaching out to me, to my mom for helping me start this thing, to all my friends, family and customers for supporting me and just to everyone sending me love and blessings.
How can our readers connect with you online and purchase some E.B.O Beard Butter?