How Hawthorne sells men’s personal care to a “clueless” consumer

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that over half of American men self-identify as “clueless” when it comes to personal care. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to look and smell good — they just don’t know what they don’t know. Hawthorne is trying to change that, and in this episode, CEO and co-founder Brian Jeong shares how.

Jeong and his co-founder, Phil Wong, have been friends since childhood. They even started a men’s fashion business while they were in high school, selling clothing directly to their favorite shops in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. They then both went on to work in different parts of the fashion industry: Wong took the creative route, helping to launch multiple clothing brands, while Jeong worked with big tech companies to improve the online shopping experience.

Hawthorne founders Phil and Brian
Hawthorne CEO and co-founder Brian Jeong (left) with co-founder Phil Wong (right).

It was a $300 bottle of cologne — and the following bewilderment — that brought Jeong and Wong back together as business partners again, years later. In doing their preliminary research, they discovered that most men were similarly befuddled by the whole men’s grooming market, beyond the high price points.

“And I think, at that moment, it’s when we realized that accessibility in the personal care space for men didn't necessarily only include price point,” Jeong says. “There was a whole discovery aspect and education aspect around it that needed to be opened up, that needed to be innovated and created, kind of from the ground up. And that's how we started building Hawthorne.”

Listen to the full podcast to hear how Hawthorne developed and expanded its product line, starting with fragrances, as well as how they’re leveraging technology to improve the experience of shopping for men’s grooming products online.

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