The Menswear Style Podcast

Sid Baveja, Founder of Humanery

April 08, 2022 Menswear Style Episode 171
The Menswear Style Podcast
Sid Baveja, Founder of Humanery
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Humanery aims to build the definitive global destination for men that serves all their beauty, grooming and self-care needs in one convenient place. Their platform is an online marketplace, which helps consumers find and purchase men's beauty and self-care products that work for them. They partner with many high quality and prestigious men's beauty, men's skincare, grooming, haircare, fragrance and wellness brands from around the globe that sell their products on the Humanery website.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Sid Baveja, Founder of Humanery about his business which aims to help men reach better and curated grooming products. Although the new generation of men are interested in men's beauty products, many still lack knowledge and guidance. Peter Brooker and Sid talk about stigma and education, sourcing brands with provenance, commission business model, men's makeup, gender neutral products, and their bespoke recommendations service.

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PB:

Hello, welcome to another episode of the menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Brooker. Today I am talking to the CEO and founder of human Eric said the Vasia human Arey aims to build the definitive global destination for men that serves all their beauty, grooming and self care needs in one convenient place. Their platform is an online marketplace, which helps consumers find and purchase men's beauty and self care products that work for them. They partner with many high quality and prestigious men's beauty men skincare, grooming haircare fragrance and wellness brands from around the globe, that sell their products on the human airy marketplace, platform, the website, WWE human error.com, the place to go. But let's find out more about the brand from the CEO and founder himself said the vija.

Unknown:

So I'm, as you said, the founder and CEO of human carry, which we launched in October 2021, in London. And we are trying to build a destination that provides the very best of grooming beauty and self care products for men in one single destination. So think, think of it maybe somewhat like a Sephora for men online. The truth is, obviously something like that doesn't quite exist. So that's what we're trying to build. We're trying to plug a gap where we know that more men wants to get into better quality, self care, beauty and grooming products. But often traditional beauty retail will have very limited selections for men, because your beauty retail tends to be for better or worse, more geared towards the female consumer. And we're trying to actually level the playing field a bit by creating this more curated destination, make it very convenient, also provide a lot of education, advice, because like me, when I first started getting into my own self care and grooming, I didn't know a lot, you know, a lot of us don't grow up with it. So we actually are trying to solve those those problems all in one destination.

PB:

Yeah, and I'm glad you touched on that, because that's what I found quite helpful on your site was that it's not just a place to come for and buy products, but there's also a baseline where people can start a journey with their skincare, their grooming, you know that it's taken for granted that guys should be knowing this stuff anyway, that I don't know, dads hand down this knowledge when they don't

Unknown:

know exactly right. That's funny that a lot of dads don't. And I think it's obviously changing. Different generations have different leanings. But yeah, the generation I'm from my father didn't teach me how to shave even, you know, it was something I just figured out on my own. And unfortunately, when I was growing up, I didn't even have you to look on YouTube to see how it's done. It was just something you figure out and you make mistakes. In fact, one of the one of the reasons why we started luminary was first and foremost, I want to solve my own problem. I had a very frustrating experience for myself trying to find better quality product. And my my specific concern at that point was the post shave rash that I would get the post shave inflammation. In fact, the reason I even grew a beard was because I started to hate shaving so much that I thought I'll just grow a beard because then I have to shave a little bit less, I just have to do a little bit on the sides and then on my neck. But frankly, the the the the journey that I had to go through to try and find an aftershave lotion that actually worked for my skin and would not make my skin inflamed after shaving was so painful and so chaotic. I thought, how can it be this difficult? And I realised that there there are two reasons for it. One, no one ever taught me that if you have a better pre shave routine, you will have less inflammation on your skin, you will be more prepared for a shave. So I was like, wow, like no one ever tells you that? Why don't they tell you that. And then number two was even finding better quality stuff, you need to focus on higher quality ingredients. And not every not everybody is getting as the same. So different products work for different people. Now what you might find you buy, you know, the super supermarket stores or you know, general pharmacies who will remain unnamed. They have limited selections. They have some some commonly and widely available product that might work for you. But it doesn't work for me. So I had to go on a journey of finding stuff that works. And that was very difficult and painful riddled with social stigma riddled with awkwardness, walking into more and more beauty oriented stores, asking sales associates their questions and then being not able to help me educate me because they're not educated by the brands that sell in those in those areas to help people like me. Yeah. And so yeah, it actually came from my own experience. And actually shaving is one that a lot of guys face. Of course there are other aesthetic concerns to have but a lot of people struggle with sensitive skin after shaven like it shouldn't be that hard to solve it. And so we thought why don't we start with that meat we That's why we created this kind of destination.

PB:

And also it can be quite an expensive adventure as well when you're struggling to find the right product. And you're kind of exploring and you're asking friends and you don't realise it, like you mentioned there, you can ask a friend what they use and what kind of grooming regime they have. Yet that's all well and good for their skin. But that's completely different to what that product could do or react of your skin or that

Unknown:

so and a lot of people what they end up doing sorry, interject, they end up trying on every single product that they can find in those limited aisles. Think about how much wasted money time environmental damage you do with like, you know, all this packaging, you end up consuming and products you might have to throw away unfortunately. So it's just it's, it's got to be different. It's got to be easier than that.

PB:

The amount of gifting that I've given my brothers over the years of like, once you shaving cream. They've got a they've got enough of a pharmacy to start up on their own. So said I'm curious, talk about your background going into this. So you say the brand's a year old? What was your gig before coming into this?

Unknown:

Oh, great question. I was actually at a company called just eat before this. I was a senior director there for about five years. So just eat is a marketplace that connects restaurants to people that want to buy take takeaway food. And before that I was at a another marketplace company called via gogo, which is a place that connects sellers of tickets to people that want to buy tickets to live events. So my background is in building marketplaces, e commerce businesses from a variety of different angles, operations, commercial, some stuff on marketing. And that experience was actually relevant in launching luminary, because actually, at the end of the day, we are a marketplace. luminary is a two sided marketplace that connects brands that make products for the male consumer, a lot of gender neutral brands have also recently joined us because they'd like to get more and more of a balance in their customer base more more men using them, not just the you know, the traditional female leaning that they had. And so the experience was if you can build a two sided marketplace where there's a good assortment, a good choice of products, and a convenient experience, you can actually pull a lot of customers into that place as well. Because when you aggregate both the brands are the people that are creating these products and customers in one place. You unlock a lot of positive network effects. A lot of people then come to that destination and say, Look, this is where I started discovered, this is where I figured out what's good for me. And then they can go on their own journey after that.

PB:

Right. That's interesting. And so you have numerous brands on this portfolio called human airy. How do you vet the brands? Is there a criteria? Is there something that needs to be met?

Unknown:

Absolutely, the there are a few things we look for. And there'll be instances where we will be flexible. But the first thing we look for is we want to find brands that have a real story and a real value set. So I'll dig into that a little bit. The value set could be anything such as they focus a lot on sustainable packaging, they focus on vegan cruelty free formulations, maybe they are focused on it being more organic and natural and not chemical. But that's not you know, for us, that's the that's the definition of a strong value set. They know what they're going for, there's a very clear understanding of what their products are, and their provenance is very strong. The second thing we look for is a focus on a more premium experience a higher performance so we don't have the more commonly available products that are geared towards men that you might find in places like boots or Superdrug, or, frankly, even Amazon. And that's deliberate because we want to create a differentiated offering we want to showcase to people, products and brands in may not have thought about format. A great example is a brand that recently joined us called heckles they make you know their inspiration is ingredients that come from the ocean and from a seat so that they have they'll have marine algae extracts, they'll have you know, collagen that's made from those kinds of ingredients to create creams, eye creams and skincare products that help with anti ageing. So we're trying to find brands that have a premium leaning have a very clear story and will genuinely be higher performance because they they will not go cheap on ingredients. They will not compromise on formulations. And will in the long term be our partners in educating more customers, the male customers because we think the biggest gap in this in this industry is the education piece. I think a lot of men have the desire to look better feel better, but it hasn't really become a necessity for them. They're not actively doing it day to day. And the gap between that desire and necessity is education.

PB:

Yeah. And that's great because they can then be the mouthpiece for you guys, as in, if these guys are doing all the explaining and the exposition as it were for how to get a better skincare regime. Yeah, can I save you doing all those hard miles in between all that. And it's interesting what you said about the ingredients as well. My sister is actually just starting up a skincare brand. She's been a beauty therapist for 20 odd years. And now she's doing a course and she's starting her own product for the worse. And she was because I've had my head in this for like about five years by doing podcasts talking to people like you and brands and whatnot, I kind of know a thing or two. And so I said to her, like, you've got to have some kind of USP, like, the provenance, like you said, it's got to have some really good place of origin. I really like the fact that you obviously a beauty therapist, you know, your onions, but you have to have like, I don't know, like the X ingredient like an ingredient that somebody goes, what is that? And what does it do? And so I said, Look, you live in a village, the same village that we grew up in for the last 40 years of our life, go to the farmer next door, see if he's got any honey, just say, right? I'm putting that in or some kind of, like, X factor there that people can go, oh, yeah, I bought this product because she's sourced x y Zed locally in the farm next to the place you grew up in, you know, I'm kind of paraphrasing that but I think you're

Unknown:

giving such good advice to your to your sister, because it's what it's it's a growing trend. There are a few trends that are defining, I think, the consumer of 2022 and beyond. And one of those trends is shopping by value, right? You want to look for stuff that might be locally sourced that might have a very specific ingredient type or has to be vegan, for example, for some people, it has to be sustainably packaged and delivered in an environmentally friendly way to their home, if they're buying it online. So there's that I think, is the one of the hallmarks of the consumer of the future much more educated and much more in tune with what they're buying and not doing it because marketing made it easy for them to simply and I think for a lot of them, this is a genuine thing. If you for example, find a brand that is claiming false things like we do this, consumers will will very quickly know that this is false and brand will get cancelled very quickly. So yeah, it's it's sometimes hard to find brand owners that are so genuine and so committed and so passionate about one specific thing. I think you're giving very sage advice to your sister.

PB:

Play her this podcast and say

Unknown:

this is a very interesting brand. Maybe she can take inspiration from a brand that worst was called telegrams. They make skincare products from grape extracts that are grown in the English countryside. Grape. Grape grape, right? You can you can have English Pinot Noir grapes in your in your skincare. All I've

PB:

got to do is say Pinot Noir to her and she's on board. Yeah, no, I do think there needs to be something like, like a story that you can hang your hat on when I think it used to be like T shirts or clothes, it'd be like peacocking someone will go. But what's that, that you're wearing or WhatsApp badge mean on your lapel? And then you'd be able to kind of have a conversation stimulator. But people like to have things with an origin story. And they like to evangelise about that, you know, for sure. So I was going to ask you said, What is the model for human error in terms of like, how does the model work? You have these brands on your portfolio? Is it kind of like an affiliate scheme? Maybe you can drill down on that,

Unknown:

right? Yes, absolutely. We, we're a marketplace. So the way that we make money is by charging a commission to the brands on sales that they get on our platform, very simple. But we built it in a way where it is much more partnership oriented, as opposed to the traditional beauty retail approach, which is underpinned by the Wholesale Buying model. So we don't, we don't actually hold stock. For the most cases we don't buy, we don't purchase for the most most part. Because actually, we want to focus much more of our time, our effort and investment on helping brands tell their story and showcase the value of their products. And therefore what works really well for us is we charge a commission when we are able to drive a sale. So it's really a win win. For brands, often when you're working with a on a wholesale model for brands, they will give up anywhere from 50 to 60% of the retail price to a wholesale buyer. So they're giving up a huge chunk of their commercial value to a wholesale buyer who may not really be interested in the brand story as much as they should be, in theory because they're much more incentivized in moving units and often that's when discounts get in get very prevalent. I think a lot of the brands we speak with the head discounts. And so when we hit, you know, discounts will take away from the true value of the product, they, then the story becomes much more about discontent. When discounts evaporate, the customer goes away, it's like empty calories. So our model is commission based where we charge a commission if we can drive a sale. So we have to work hard to actually get the customer and show them the value, get them to part with their money on our platform, purchase the product after it gets delivered, and then the brand gets paid. And therefore, with the brands, we are able to, on an aggregate basis share a bunch of insight and data to help them grow their grow their sales with us. And we are we often collaborate on marketing, because one of the other models that's unique about us is the commission rate for the brand goes down over time as they do more business with us. Again, in the wholesale model, typically, a wholesale buyer will ask you for more margin, and they might buy more from you. We said, let's flip it on its head, let's make it more beneficial for the right kinds of brands that are really loved by customers to pay us less, but then they are actually accessing more customers, they are able to get their products in the hands of more people who are benefiting and loving the experience. And so yeah, so we built it in a more partnership oriented method, as opposed to the traditional approach, which is you go by on wholesale, and then you negotiate margins back and forth all the time. And you kind of forget about the customer, you forget about the brand story and the provenance, etc, etc.

PB:

And I guess that's also a good way to nurture relationships, because you want to be working with these brands for the long term, right? You don't want to be just coming in hard and fast and going. Let's just make a quick buck. And we'll see you later next year. It's got to be, you know, so I guess the conversations get easier, the more you can you can promise them and how beneficial will be for them to be on your platform.

Unknown:

Absolutely. And some some very, I think reputable brands have trusted us. And so we're very fortunate to be working with some amazing brands, you can see some of them on our website luminary.com. And they are trusting us because they believe in the long term potential of changing the industry, not just economic, the economic model, but also that idea of educating more male customers to come in and changing the way beauty is viewed today. It's a very gendered category. We would like for it to be not so gendered, actually, we'd like for there to be a level playing field.

PB:

But would that work, though? Because I mean, are we talking like the difference between male and female skin? Guys typically have tougher skin. So yeah, yeah. Products that are targeted to do the job as it were, would it work to have some kind of genderless product?

Unknown:

Absolutely. I think, first of all, that's a great question. You're right that men have different skin, on the on, on average, in our men have slightly thicker skin. Differences in production. And so the oiliness levels can be different pores are, on average, maybe a little bit bigger. But on a lot of levels. You know, there are things that can be what we would say gender neutral, for example, handwash for our body wash, or, frankly, even sometimes, hairstyling products, like sea salt spray, doesn't have to be male or female, it could be for anyone, you know, we work with a few I'd say, you know, the gender neutral brands five dot Botanics are like Messiah and Eve. These are products that can be used by anyone we recently started working with a brand called Emmeline. They make lipsticks and you know, lip paint and things like that, or nail polish, and they've started selling more muted nude shades to men who want to wear makeup. And frankly, that's completely fine. Why shouldn't wear? Why shouldn't men wear makeup? Regardless of their, their, their orientation, or their or their race or their background, and it should be very open for anyone to do it. I mean, men's makeup is one of our fastest growing categories. And actually, when you're talking about men's makeup, when you talk about things like concealers and you know, you know those kinds of products, frankly, they can be gender neutral, why not.

PB:

And also just kind of opens up the playing field and makes it easier I guess for for guys and girls, if they're going for a product that they don't feel like oh, this has to be worn by a dude or this has to be worn by a chick. I would say that all the time when I used to work in a slightly, slightly different but when I worked in a fashion shop in Cambridge, we were very strict around the seasons like oh, you know, we've got the spring summer coming in. We've got the spring, like autumn winter, you know, you had like the four blocks. And then you'd have the clothes that would be orientated around that like, you know, as soon as you had a couple of months go by everything then land in the sale, but it might be still cold as balls in the summer in the UK. We've got the coats on saris made no sense. So I don't know. I feel like we've kind of done away with things that we like to put in boxes that we like to categorise and go well this is that because now we can identify it and give it a name. Whereas people were like, well, I'd rather have the right thing and save the money than have something that's just got, you know, a certain branding on it. That means it must be for me.

Unknown:

Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. You're totally right. In fact, that's one of the reasons why we call ourselves human hairy. And not something that was maybe you could have come up with something much more traditionally masculine, like, I don't know, I'm not I don't want to make anything up. But we you know, that would have been, frankly, maybe even easier sales, because then you'd like your show, in a box. But frankly, we wanted to change that we wanted to change the social narrative a little bit in our in our small way. And so we call ourselves human Neri which comes from human apothecary, it's an apothecary, for humans. And not just from, frankly, yes, our product catalogue is geared towards the male audience because we want to educate want to change the way that men consume these products in this category. But we're, you know, 40% of our sales come from females, do you make your

PB:

own products,

Unknown:

we do not know, we do not make our own

PB:

products. You know quite a bit about it, though you tempted at some point down the line, this might be an avenue view,

Unknown:

I'll never say never. But I am very conscious of the fact that we know very little in terms of the you know, first of all, you might already know this, you speak to a lot of brand owners in this in this category. It's an intense process to come up with high quality products, often you can be formulating for three to four years testing and improving and enhancing before you take a product you really feel, you know, you're proud to take to market. That's not my core competence, for sure. And so I'm, I think it would be a long time before we would be ready. If we were ever doing, we certainly don't want to compete with any of the brands that sell on our platform, I think we're very conscious that if we say that we're going to be real partners, to them, a real partner would never stab someone in the back. So seen as Oh, now you come up with your own product, and you're stabbing us in the back. We don't want that to happen. So if we ever did it, there would be a very good reason for doing it. And it wouldn't be done carefully with the balance and, and most importantly, with something that we think customers would absolutely love. Yeah.

PB:

Well, you don't want any unnecessary conflict as you're just growing the brand, I suppose. And you're right. Again, just looping back to my sister, the price of getting something like this off the ground. She was saying like, she just got the quote in for the branding alone. And that was astronomical. And I think that actually does make sense, because this is what people will be looking at. I mean, we do judge things by the cover, we shouldn't do. But we will do so. Yeah. But you know, the principle rounds of testing, you know, the second round third round, I mean, it just, you do need to deep pockets, I'd say or a good angel investor to get something like that going out early, said I had to go on the bespoke part of your website. Just yesterday, and I just had the results come through as long as we're on the blower here. So yeah, can talk about that I really like the idea of and it just takes about a minute to fill out. And you can kind of bespoke, describe the products that you'll need that'll be suitable for your skin. So how did you come up with that?

Unknown:

So we, we knew that a lot of again, this is stemming from the idea that a lot of male consumers specifically struggle with knowing where to start, because this is this is again, not a very common activity to go researching online for a lot of things. And often people feel overwhelmed when they see maybe too much choice. And they're like I don't even know where to start. So this was our small attempt in helping people find a starting point. And we know this is not the end of their journey, that there will be a journey that will go on. But it's our attempt to make the starting point a bit easier. We also deliberately decided that we weren't going to use algorithms in the first instance, to showcase results because it would have actually been from the background I come from would have been easier for us to plug in some sort of artificial intelligence mechanism to say, Okay, you give me these answers and suddenly a pop up to you instant responses. And often what a lot of platforms do they just pop up to you with their best sellers, because they just want to keep selling more of what's already selling easier. So I found personally that you know that you take a quiz, you answer some questions, and you get a bunch of recommendations, especially if it's powered by machine or some algorithm. It's not as authentic. So we said, Actually, we'll take the harder route, we'll take the answers. We'll then actually have someone on our team who's a concierge to go through our catalogue, match some of those high level requirements and come up with a bunch of recommendations and then also hopefully, give you some reasoning why we thought this would be ideal for you. And of course, there's still going to be some level of trial and error because we will never get it right because we're not building you know, 360 point profile on you. We're asking you some very high level questions, but at least we think this way I will help you get started with in an ideal world with products that are right for you so that you've come back to to get more and then build out your your routine or your, your regimen for your your self care.

PB:

Nice. I think I'd take it I liked the idea, like the engagement and it kind of gets you thinking as a consumer as well. Yeah, you're not just buying blind in the wind, you're thinking well, what? What is my skin type? You know? And so, one that one question that I thought was quite pertinent, what are your biggest concerns now that could be somebody could just go well, I'm, I'm a bit too vain to say it's just my bags under my eyes and my wrinkles, but really, that could be it for, for anyone and probably it's

Unknown:

actually very widely reported concern to be to be honest, it's one of the big things and of course, the benefit of doing it online is it's discreet, you don't have to tell anyone that you know, this is your concern. It's, it's going you know, you no one's going to then come back and attribute that back to you in any way it's all privacy protected. So, frankly, one of the big things we found that especially the male consumer, they preferred to be online because there's a lot less of that stigma and judgement that they might feel in an in person environment. And they're getting a response from a human from from a person from concierge that is trained and understands the the information about the ingredients and the products and is giving you information that hopefully will help you get started in this discreet way. So no shame in having that concern. You have it as it's okay there are solutions out there for it. Your patient use the right products, you can sell those things and really feel that confidence.

PB:

Well I'll go through the email with great zest as a off coupon as well that I might splash out on anyway. said Great talking to you. Human area.com the place people can go and human Arey e ry on the end of human. We'll put all the links over on the show notes at menswear style.co.uk Over time, so it's great having you on.

Unknown:

Thanks you've been listening to the menswear style podcast be sure to head over to menswear style dot code at uk for more menswear content and email info at menswear style.co.uk If you'd like to be a future guest on the show. Finally, please help support the show by leaving a review on iTunes or wherever you're listening to this podcast. Until next time

(Cont.) Sid Baveja, Founder of Humanery