Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alvin Oommen, Founder and CEO of OXFORDhill, located in Philadelphia, PA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
OXFORDhill is a men's grooming product company. We developed a state-of-the-art hair clay that styles with texture and fullness. As men get older, their hair becomes thinner and more brittle. Most styling products (pomades, waxes, pastes) tend to worsen this. Our bentonite styling clay does the opposite. It thickens hair, increases scalp coverage, and adds texture from the root of your hair to the tip.
Tell us about yourself
I've been obsessed with styling clays for as long as I can remember. However, one day I got irritated that even the best ones on the market still leave a greasy shine that clumps up your hair. Because of this, I spent months formulating a clay with a true matte finish that doesn't contain unnecessary ingredients. What motivates me is when customers email us saying that our clay is the best they've ever used and they will remain lifelong customers. You feel a loyalty to them and a desire to make sure the company continues to grow and make phenomenal products.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment was the day we moved into our new production facility. It took a lot of time and effort to build it out, and there were many times we didn't think we'd be able to finish the project. However, we did, and now we're positioned with the right team to continue to develop state-of-the-art products with minimal ingredients.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I remember leaving my job in consulting because I thought the hours were too much. After one week with an 80-hour work schedule, I told myself that when I start my own business I'll be able to control my time and work less. What ended up happening is I have been able to control my own time, however, mentally, you'll find yourself working way more than 80 hours a week! Thankfully, it's something that makes me feel fulfilled, so it doesn't feel like work at all.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- There is this statistic that shows most small businesses fail after 5 years. I've always believed that it is only because they haven't waited till year 6. What I mean to say is if you don't give up, you will win. Life just works that way. If you have an idea that you believe can win, stick at it, and you'll be glad you did.
- If you build it, they will come. Do not try to set unnecessary conditions before launching a product. Before I launched OXFORDhill, I hesitated for a year because I didn't think anyone would want to buy my clay. Your proof of concept doesn't need to be for 1,000 people to want/buy your product. It just needs to be 1-5 people. Will 1-5 people purchase what you're selling? Then that is all you need. From there, get creative about how to get the word out about your brand and why you exist.
- If you're looking to grow your business today, you need to develop the mindset of giving. Give your time to people that are getting started, and give your contacts to others who want to grow. Give, give, give! The surest path to success is to be a connector and pay your contacts/experiences forward, and it always comes back around. The book The Go-Giver expresses this sentiment well, and it's been the nucleus of my business philosophy.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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