Finding a good skin care regimen can be a tricky process for men—especially when you factor in shaving and the potential irritation/ingrown hairs that can make the process that much more difficult. Some get lucky and find the right products without much trouble, while others have to go through a trial-and-error process before finding the right one-two punch combo.
Maxwell skincare is a highly-rated face-first company dedicated to providing an assortment of products geared towards men’s skin and hair care. The company offers everything from exfoliants to facial cleansers and prides itself on being a company focused on the care of their customers above anything else. ONE37pm’s Aaron ‘Don’ Dukes and Jael Rucker spoke with founder Colin Maxwell about his path to getting the Maxwell brand to where it is today.
ONE37pm: You all started Maxwell Skincare in 2018. At what point in your company’s journey did you decide to start a business?
Maxwell: The idea came for Maxwell in 2017 while taking a walk with a friend who was complaining about not being able to take care of their skin. “Guys are inherently lazy,” he said, “they want someone to do it for them.” Being a guy who actually liked taking care of his skin, and spent years doing research, testing products, and figuring out what works, this was an area I could help with. The real “aha” moment came half an hour later, ordering a smoothie at Juice Generation, and adding a booster or antioxidants. Plenty of men’s grooming companies have a cleanser or moisturizer, few tailor these products for men. I knew I had a unique business idea, and niche market value if I could find a way to match specific antioxidants to men’s skin types, giving guys better products at an affordable price. Essentially, “do it for me.”
ONE37pm: Can you walk us through the timeline from when you guys first started Maxwell to where you are today?
Maxwell: The research phase of Maxwell began in 2017. We had to find suppliers, a cosmetic lab and do user interviews across the male demographic spectrum. I went through an accelerator program in NYC called Tacklebox, which is for founders with full-time jobs. Going through this program was extremely valuable and really set the groundwork for how Maxwell was going to come to life. The advisors, mentors, and pitches I went through were essential for building sustainable advantage. In 2018 we began the testing phase with cosmetics, working with our lab to focus on a specific skin type, and doing research on proven ingredients to test.
Why normal/combo skin? 67% of men identify with it already, and there are ample antioxidants to focus on. The end products came in 2019, with four key ingredients per product, starting with a daily cleanser, exfoliant, and moisturizer. We launched at the beginning of 2020, and our timing coincided with the beginning of the pandemic, which everyone had to deal with. We’re still in our “early” growth phase after a year in the market and have a fantastic group of men using our products consistently with great results.
ONE37pm: Obviously the decision to start a website for your business is a critical one, what was that process like for you guys in terms of selecting a resource to build your website?
Maxwell: Web presence is crucial, there are only a few touchpoints a consumer will have with our brand before purchase, all being digital.
I’ve had experience in the past with Wix and GoDaddy, so I stuck to what I was familiar with for hosting and building. The biggest impact is the copy, constantly iterating and changing up the way we’re talking to our consumers to see what drives the most engagement.
ONE37pm: What are some of the challenges you guys have faced in your journey?
Maxwell: When you start a company, everything is a challenge, especially when you bootstrap it. You’re the head of social, head of customer service, head of product development, marketing, and everything else. We had challenges ranging from our bottles not being able to fit with the cosmetics we produced to our fulfillment center not being able to store the pallets of a product before they were filled. We dealt with the packaging of our boxes not aligning with our brand colors to shipping costs being way over budget. With each challenge, you have to be nimble and work within the constraints you have, namely budget.
ONE37pm: What advice do you all have for anyone beginning a startup?
Maxwell: You have to ask who your business is for and what it can achieve. If you can’t answer these questions specifically, intuitively, and consistently as you create your business, you will not be successful. I’ve gone back to these questions over and over again to align and realign Maxwell with my target customer base. The second piece of advice— be persistent and dedicated. Without daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly persistence and dedication, you will not be successful.
ONE37pm: Where do you see Maxwell five years from now?
Maxwell: I have a five-year vision for the company, but I’m flexible enough to know that it could end up in a completely different direction. Starting a company is not necessarily about growing in a straight line, but moving with your consumers, the market, and where you can have a distinct long term advantage.
Maxwell will (hopefully) expand its footprint into preventive face care for men, not simply daily care. That will include OTC products, SPF, and potentially even some male acne products. Additionally, I would hope for a large retail footprint in five years, laddering up to more specific problems that men can solve through our online process.
You can learn more about Maxwell and their products via their website.