On the up · 2 November 2016

Thomas Clipper: Luxury male grooming backed by the crowd

thomas-clipper
Each Thomas Clipper product has been the result of surveys asking customers what they want next

Founded in 2014, Thomas Clipper is a men’s lifestyle brand which aiming to improve men’s’ daily routines with bespoke, luxury razors and shaving kits.

The company has launched nine products in total through a series of three successful Kickstarter campaigns, one of which was amongst the fastest ever funded in the platform’s product design category.

Following its latest crowdfunding campaign, which saw Thomas Clipper source in excess of £90,000 from more than 100 backers via Seedrs, Business Advice caught up with co-founders Matt Brown and Tony Weiss to find out what’s next for the brand.

(1)  Who are you and what’s your business?

We’re Matt and Tony, and our business is Thomas Clipper – a British luxury lifestyle brand for men.

(2) How long have you been around for?

Just over two years.

(3) How do you make money?

We sell the best shave on the market, bar none. And we’re expanding into other lifestyle rituals too.

(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?

We’re all about community-driven luxury. Not just custom products, but a custom business driven by our customers to deliver exactly what they ask for. Each of our products has been the result of surveys asking what we should make next.

Of course, we don’t design by committee. When it comes to development we’re very much purists, and that gives our products a unique British modern style and understatement. But when it comes to what we’re making, that’s up to our community.

(5) What was key in terms of getting started?

Extremely hard work and friends who were willing to be our human guinea pigs were vital. But what’s interesting perhaps is what wasn’t key.

We didn’t take out any loans. We didn’t have a rich benefactor. We relied on extremely lean business techniques and crowdfunding to pre-sell our products before we’d created them.

This was liberating in the immediate term, but a lot harder in the medium term because we had to spend a lot of time developing products that people actually wanted.

Of course, this is vital in the long run, and has led directly to the philosophy of community driven luxury that still drives us.

(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date?

I think we’ve managed to build something valued at three quarters of a million pounds without compromising on our values. We source sustainably, we work with master craftsmen and women and we create products that we use every day. That feels pretty good.

(7) What setbacks have you had along the way?

Every day feels like an uphill battle. Would-be suppliers who simply don’t return emails, websites that suddenly stop working for no reason, banks that simply don’t function.

But I don’t think you can really enjoy the successes if you don’t have setbacks. That said, we have just raised investment today – ask me next week how I feel about setbacks and you might get a more cynical answer.

(8) In five years’ time, we will be…

Known across the world for being a brilliant lifestyle business that makes beautiful products and a company that never compromised on its values, whilst also returning a profit to our investors.

(9) What one tip would you give to others starting out?

Do it now. In two years your ability to ship to Europe is likely to be very different. So get established quickly if you’ve any ambitions to trade outside of England because if you’ve not got your foot in the door now, it might get harder for the little guys soon.

(10) Who are your business heroes and why?

Matt: My great-grandad was in the RFC – the precursor to the RAF. Their motto was Per ardua ad astra (Through adversity to the stars). Which I think is pretty good. He piloted a burning wooden plane down to the ground in WWI saving his life and that of his gunner, which puts everything I’ll ever do rather into the shade.

Antonio: I honestly don’t believe in having heroes as I think they constrain you by what’s been done previously. I’d say the hundreds of people who’ve supporting us through Kickstarter and Seedrs are our heroes for showing faith in us – and we won’t let them down!

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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