William Alexander was founded with the vision to revolutionise the stigma within the male cosmetics industry. Their tanning products are especially designed for men and their mission is to create a brand with products of the highest quality, and to give men confidence and trust in using them. The brand's luxury tan enhancer has been formulated to create a perfectly balanced blend, illuminating a subtle, natural looking tan. William Alexander Cosmetics is a new brand which launched at the end of February this year, founded by two best friends, Alec and Themy, who came up with the idea during the first lockdown. Both were struggling to find a product that gave them a natural holiday glow rather than the orange shade that usually comes with tanning products. They're set to launch with two products, one being a tan enhancing mousse and one a tanning water.
In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Alec and Themy, Co-Founders of William Alexander about the story of how two good friends launched a male beauty brand. At the start of lockdown in 2020 they decided to use their spare time to research the tanning industry with the desire to make their own beauty products aimed at men. Our host Peter Brooker and the co-founders also talk about the increasing adopting of men's tanning, working with manufacturers, why it's important to get the product right before going to market, using social media for brand awareness, and why packaging matters.
Whilst we have your attention, be sure to sign up to our daily MenswearStyle newsletter here. We promise to only send you the good stuff.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of The menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Walker. On today's show, I am talking to Femi and Alec cofounders of William Alexander. And William Alexander is a new brand founded by two best friends Alec and Femi who came out with the idea during the first lockdown, both struggling to find a product that will give them that natural holiday glow without the orange shade that usually comes with the tanning products. At the moment, they are looking to launch two products, one being a tan enhancing mousse and one a tanning water. And you can find out more about the brand through the website at www dot William Alexander cosmetics.com. And here is Alec and Femi to tell us their story. Sure, so I mean, I've known each other for over 10 years now that we met each other at school. And it's quite funny story really, we sat next to each other on our first day of school and started chatting. We looked at each other's timetables, and we noticed we had the exact same timetable about one hour across the two weeks, which was pretty strange as it is and then later on sort of exchange what they had, we find that we were born a couple days apart in the same hospital in the same ward. So who knows we may have known each other all our life. Yeah, no. By the way, we've been good mates now for over 10 years. We live together now. Now we we started a business venture together. So six months in, right. Okay. And talk to me about how you guys came up with the idea and how long it took to get from the idea to where it is now. Well, so Originally, it was actually funnily enough to start a lockdown. We, I started doing rotations at work last week on week off. And it was one of the first rotations where I sort of sat down Valley consent or not sat down, we spoke on messenger. And I said to him, let's try and set up a company. We wanted to do it for a few years now, we've got a bit of spare time, why not go into something like think of an idea to give it that we can sort of progress on and it came sort of just out of the blue? Didn't it really be partly from your sisters? Yeah, for me sister's actually a doctor. And she sees so many men sort of used by some beds. And she saw where the health hazards she's like, you need to start using face. Yeah, and you start using fake tan. So for me sis up, chucked it on me, and you suck it out. It's actually really good. And I sort of thought to myself was like, looking at this product. It was quite, it was branded for women, there was not much I've never had any awareness of it. So I thought I said to alekos, I tell you what, this is like quite a niche market. And it may not work. But let's go into sorting out like a men's branded tanning product, because I've used this and I never would have used it myself without my sister telling me so I want to we sort of thought we could get some awareness out there for sure. I mean, it's a massive market. I mean, the female market return is huge. If the men do that as well, then there's a lot of possibility there. Exactly. And I thought myself, like why can I use any work so well? Why not? Why have I not heard about before? So I thought if we got out there perhaps that more men became aware of it. And like realise that it's a good product to use. And it's a great byproduct of some beds and health sort of alternative might be a great product and hopefully a good business plan. Yeah. And that's the thing, isn't it? Often, like companies start and ideas get generated from using something first off and finding something to go, Well, how come not everybody else has this? How come? It's just me. And now I have to tell all my friends to use the product. Why don't I just make my product and kind of, you know, monetizing that way. I think with a lot of business, we've been trying to think of a business plan for so long. You just keep thinking you keeping you try and force it and just click the Like, it's just random that Femi sister got him to use it. And then the next thing you know, you know, we're wearing fake tan every day. Yeah, exactly. Like you just never expect these kind of things to happen. Yeah. And talk to me about the capital. So did you guys then have to kind of crowdfund or how did you manage to get the capital to get it off the ground? So we always wanted to sort of do it ourselves. We didn't want to rely on any, well, we'll take any debts out from personal ones or bank level. So we sort of said to ourselves, this sort of take it a bit slow on is sort of doing it on a affordable budget for ourselves, which may or not, may or may or may not have been the right sort of thing to do. But I think for us at the time, that was where we wanted to go there. So it's taken a little bit longer for us. But in terms of financially, we sort of just started we're in the green Yeah. Exact class with lockdown, essentially. I mean, nobody's doing anything he can't say during lockdown, then you haven't really got much time. So we've never really had an opportunity to save like this before. And we've made the most of it. Yeah. And we mentioned saved with the money we couldn't we invested it all in and hopefully get that. Yeah. Cool. Yeah. And also, as much as I have respect for people that do crowdfunding, I'm not denigrating that at all I do admire more the people that kind of put their money where their mouth is, I think it does show a lot of confidence in your own brand and your own product when you're willing to kind of risk and put the risk upfront. I mean, now we've really invested into it quite substantially each year, so invested, we can't let this fail now. And it's just getting more and more serious and more we invest, the more we want this to work, and it actually benefits us in a way it does. Also, you're putting your own money into it, it's not someone else's. So you, you're sort of working for yourself, if you if you don't push your idea, then you're letting yourself down, essentially. So like while your money's in it, it's like your whole time you're financially invested as well, which is more important. Definitely. How has it been received? Once you You're now kind of getting some brand awareness out there? Like your friends and your family? And close circles? Are they saying, oh, wow, this is a thing, you know? Now what's actually like, everyone's a bit shocked by it. I just wouldn't expect it. I mean, especially from us, we'd like to consider ourselves quite masculine guys. So when we approach our friends are like, yeah, we've got a business as well, you know, we didn't expect this. Our main message has been, look, you're in lockdown. Now, you may have a few concerns about this product. But trust us, it's a great product. And this is the best time to try it. You don't go out now. So he do cook it up. The worst thing you can say is, you know, you might get sick from a bit your mom and dad are saying, but there's no harm done. But we believe that wouldn't happen anyway. So that's really been our main message. And no, we've had positive reviews. Yeah, and also where I've been speaking to people, not my colleagues at work and stuff, where before we will talk about sort of their skin routines, and that keep it quiet in the shadows, now I've sort of become a bit more open with them, I've actually found that a lot more than not a lot of people that I know that you typically wouldn't think of us as products, they actually are, which is quite surprising. And they shouldn't be sort of thing with men. There shouldn't be a stigma, as such, you know, like to keep things secret or, or like to be ashamed that you're wearing a product, I don't think there's anything wrong with it. So now telling people that we've sort of done this, and I wear fake tan products, I think they've sort of been more comfortable with it as well and sort of opening up to me. And I think that that's part of what we want as the brand to be to make it more comfortable for men to be able to like you proud of it. Yeah, yeah, no, that's interesting. And tell me a little bit about the product itself, like how long it took to kind of get it to where you wanted it to be the trials and errors and the processes. This was just an It was not fun. Yes. You take so long, you get a product, you think it's right. And then the last minute, you're like, you know what, this isn't right. And we only actually launched with one product, initially, we're gonna go for three or four. But we just wanted to make sure everything was perfect, especially if this is going to be the first impression of a menu and this product has to be spot on. So the amount of times we spoke with different manufacturers, we wanted to make sure our formulation was right, from the strength to how quickly it sets on the scent, everything had to be perfect, because if it wasn't perfect, men aren't going to use it again. For men that aren't using it, it's like for them, it's a risk. So we wanted to make sure that they took a risk that they can trust, you know, a more subtle approach to tan instead of something that's completely out there. So that was another thing. We spend a lot of time Yeah, it took a lot longer than what we thought. And so when we started process in March 2020, and we launched December, and we've only come at one point. out how is it taking so long, but it just does. And it's such a slow process. But you've got to make sure it's right. Yeah, I'm glad. I'm glad we've waited and not rush too much. Sure. Yeah. I mean, it's also you're selling this as well, right? I mean, this is kind of your baby, you don't want to have it. You don't want to have it like half cooked, where it looks great. But smells like ours. You know, you can't really you can't really sell things like that that way. So if you're a perfectionist, that is you've got to have it right before you can not even a product packaging for us is so crucial. We want a brand that's luxury and makes people feel good about themselves. Yeah. And like we want a really nice packaging, making boxes. Yeah, ages get in the right box, like different supplies, different colours, different textures. And eventually we've got the right box, we think and you know, it's great, but it's just a list of little things as well. You don't realise, yeah, I'm guessing. And maybe you can correct me you're not kind of going into this knowing who the suppliers are, and knowing where all the things that housed and you know, you don't have an infinite Rolodex of people that you can just reach out to. So that must have taken time to establish these relationships, right? It really did. I mean, for me in Hollywood, we've never been in the business world at all. So to step into it in such a sort of, like, crazy, very regulated. Yeah, exactly. And also, yeah, it's like so it's quite daunting for us. We didn't know anything at all. So we had to like find the supply change, you know, test the products didn't work out all sorts of stuff. And it's a big risk because people are putting this on their skin. You don't want anything to go wrong. So you want to make sure you've got the right supply and the right ingredients and you know, we just had to wait Research as much as we possibly could to ensure that everything was a really good quality. I mean, it's so much research that we didn't know existed until now. Well done, guys, I'm really happy for you, honestly, because I kind of know on a much smaller scale and maybe a distant subject that it does take a long time to get something off the ground. And it can be a labour of love sometimes, but actually, you know, coming through with it and having something to show especially like in lockdown, I sent my girlfriend, you know, you can go two ways in lockdown, you can you can either come out learning a new language or six pack, we can come out with a face tattoo, you know, I mean, you can even you can be one of these guys or girls, one way or the other. And also we've got a business where we're doing interviews from the point we were talking about, actually the other day of social media, like with business and with like, social influences, like you only see the end product. You see, this guy's got 100,000 followers behind me like he's doing really well. So, but it's not reality. So that guy started on zero followers. Yeah. And it's been a lot of work to get them. We're going through that process now. But I think we've got through the worst part now agree, it's got everything going. And we've got products, and we're selling it well. And you know, we're really excited for the future. Yeah, we are positive, looking at looking much more. There's like, so humbled you as well, you know, where you sort of think straight away, this is gonna be great. Like we, when we launched, we were like, Yeah, right, this wait for the sales to come in. And all of a sudden, like after a week or so that hang on, this isn't as good as you sort of expect because like Alex said, you always see the Emperor, you don't really see that the building blocks that it takes to get there. And so it's humbled us a lot. And you know, it's matured us in a way and especially in the business world, which is great. And so what was it like when you actually got the final products in your hand? Was there like a big eureka moment? No. Yeah. Praise the Lord a bit. Yeah, it was a few beers after that. Yeah. I mean, he's excited. Nervous as well, I think, yeah, your people are trying on your product and really hope that they like it. And you put a lot of effort into it. Yeah, exactly. You know, I think we put in so much effort that that meant that we knew this was gonna work. Exactly. We trust it. So we know that everyone else will trust it as well. Awesome. And so what's next for the brand? Is it to build more brand awareness around what you have now? Or are you kind of putting things in the pipeline and developing new products. At the moment, again, we want to focus on just tanning. I mean, we cosmetics brand. And we hope one day we can broaden to that whole bigger picture. But for now, we want to focus on tanning. Because we think it's a huge market is alone, we think it's a great product, you know, you put it on once at the start of the week, and it's gonna last you a week, so you don't have enough to worry about it. So we've started off with the mousse, we're looking to bring in a water which is hopefully coming out soon, shortly, which we think that Yeah, much more lightweight products, easy to use, and also face products. So we've got a lot more products coming out. And we as we said, with a million, we want to take our times a year. And also in terms of like for the brand. We also, we've always believed because mean, we care about how we look. And we believe most men do as well. But I think the goal and vision for the company is like that, to get rid of this stigma in men's sort of men's cosmetics, there shouldn't be any shame. And like I was saying a lot of people in my company, they keep it quiet what they use and stuff. So we sort of want to break that barrier and make it comfortable for men to use products and it to be a brand that everyone sort of comes together. Yeah, we think like, even the name William Alexander. For us. That's quite a powerful name, you know, William concrete, Alexander the Great year, he also shares our names to an extent and we just want people to feel uplifted and powerful when he uses on a product. It's not just about the quality is about how it makes you feel. And that's why we put so much detail into packaging, branding and all that because although the product is going to be great, and we know that it's an extra factor as well. So we want men to feel when they apply it instead of feeling sort of a shame and being like secret about it, they should be proud of wearing our brand and our products because essentially men should be able to wear what they want and you know, look as good as they possibly can. Yeah, definitely. And you're tapped upon their social media element there. I'm just curious how you guys are now going to build your platform. Do you look to leverage other people's social media like other ambassadors on you know, contact influencers? How, what the starting blocks now for you guys to get some brand awareness going on. So we've just brought in actually someone to assist us with our social media and the marketing side of things. So we've got an expert who's definitely going to be a great person to the team, but we want to look at a whole bigger picture obviously, ads general but social influences to an extent and I think we would like to do some big campaigns. Sure, I mean, there's so much growth now around men's cosmetics there is a, there's a big bandwagon. I think we're timely, quite logical fact, because there's been quite a few companies before are starting to build a trend of men's makeup, but not many for men's tanning. So I think we've timed it. Well, yeah, we want to jump on that bandwagon of, you know, breaking down the walls, essentially. So we'd love to do some sort of things around that for sure. Yeah. And I think we're also lucky to live in a generation where, you know, the power of social media can really leverage your company and sort of get your brand out there, which is, which is good for I was lucky in a way to, you know, like, get the brand image, get the vision out there. And like Alex said, we've hired someone, which will be pivotal for us to get stuff out there and sort of show our brand and our vision. Yeah, it's weird. It's almost like how did we do this before social media, right? I mean, I was just jumped on the phone with you guys. I was just going through one of the blogs that I host, and just seeing where all the traffic's coming from in the last 60 days or so. And then you have like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, I call the ones that I use. And I'm thinking, what would I have even done before? Before, like, all of this came along, and you had to try and you know, because I don't sponsor any of the blogs that among these are all just kind of thing that I do is hobbies. But then if it wasn't social media, as you know, these, these would just be floating out there in the internet, you know, just yeah, hoping that people would pick up on it. Yeah. And you're certainly very lucky to be in this generation for sure. Yeah. But also, I guess that kind of comes with the caveat that everyone's trying to do. And it's crowded place, isn't it? So? I think we've considered with influences. Yeah, so many people are using influencers Now, does it kind of lose that credibility a bit, because everyone knows they're getting paid to do this, essentially. And we want people to use our product. Not because they love the product, not because someone's paid to do it. So you gotta have that balance, I think. Yeah. For sure. Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's curious, isn't it using influences? I mean, I do smile when I see. Like a couple of my influencer friends, maybe using some grooming products, like one week, and then using another set of grooming products next week. And I'm like, well, you haven't even road tested this for a month. How can How can you even? How can you tell what effect its had on your skin? If you now kind of like swapped one? I could go on about that. But I was gonna ask how did you guys envisage getting your brand onto the shelf in shops? How the discussions going, if you've had any with, say, like Selfridges, or john lewis, what's the plan? We are currently in talk to the few actual facts. And they're sort of setting the product side of things. Now, what we really focused on was our branding, you know, there's a lot of products out there, we want to create a brand that really sticks out and really sort of creates a vision of all of market and everything like that. So with our website, for instance, we want it to be really graphic, we've got cool video, and we haven't got that much sort of buy this product kind of thing. We just wanted to get really cool, because it's more of a representation of our brand. Yeah. And also, you know, as we, as we touched on earlier about this stigmatism and things like that, we'd like these brands to sort of back us and you know, sort of try and break those statements with us. So if we had our products in stores, etc. It will be it will be helpful and pivotal in like breaking the stigmas of men's cosmetics and shamans over there. Yeah, yeah, definitely. Interesting. Well, best of luck with that, guys. I hope to see him in the show soon. When we fucking allowed out. Awesome. All right. Gentlemen, thanks so much for your time. Again, congratulations on the brand. I think it looks great. And to get it up and running in like these crazy times when the world's upside down is more kudos to you. William Alexander is the name of the brand and William Alexander cosmetics calm. We'll leave all the links over in the show notes. And again, good talking to you. And I'll speak to you soon. Thank you, Alec and Femi. And thank you for tuning into this episode. If you like what you hear, why not leave a review a Hey, it does help our egos. Don't forget to check out the show notes for this episode and all content pertaining to fashion watches, grooming and lifestyle over at WWW dot menswear store.co.uk and we're on the social as well at men's wear style. Now if you want to be a guest on the show and tell us about your brand, come on. Tell us about your journey. What did you do during lockdown? You can email us here at info at menswear stout at codit uk and until next time