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The down side of being an innovator: The Original Beard Butter Story

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We put a lot of work behind creating not only our “business” but the products we offer. Our inspiration and motivation to even begin this all was to offer something different and that was not already on the market; to meet unmet needs.

Our first big innovation was to create a powerful conditioning agent that also helped bring a little control and styling to a beard. I talked with many men that maintained larger, fuller beards to see what existing products they used. Surprisingly many of them called out various hair creams purchased from the Black hair-care aisle. These products are very intensive conditioners that are applied to the hair and left in to keep conditioning throughout the day. A few brands called this style of product “Hair Mayonnaise”. Knowing that mayonnaise was suggested as a wash out hair conditioner in the 1970s, it made sense to me. It also looked like thick mayo in a jar.

I read the ingredients and made note of key components that benefit the hair and compared to ingredients I was already using. I focused on the more natural products and ingredients as that is our focus as a business. In my lab, I started mixing a little of this and a little of that and after a few tries I had a product ready to test. I gave samples to friends, talking them through the purpose of the product, the desired results and best ways to apply. While testing was taking place I had to think up a name to call this all new concoction.

Google was my friend here. I spent days searching word combinations from a short list of ideas. I knew I wanted to stay away from mayonnaise, but I did know I wanted a culinary reference to the look and feel of the product. Well, it looked like margarine; a little pale or translucent but still margarine. Margarine, though made from natural ingredients (normally) it is basically artificial butter. There it was… I decided to test out “butter” as a beard care product. Using all sorts of combinations to search the internet. Looking for any existing correlation of “beard” and “butter” and found none, anywhere. Not a single entry anywhere that contained the words Beard and Butter and any capacity. I browsed Amazon and various beard care product makers big and small. Nobody had a product similarly named or referencing Beard Butter. That was it! Our new leave in conditioning product was to be called the before unheard of “Beard Butter”.

It did extremely well in testing, everybody loved it. They loved the means to apply, the way it worked, how long it lasted and the added control to taming their beard. Then I started hearing other ways guys were using it and realized we had an amazing product here.

Upon launch it was a huge success and was constantly selling out. Orders came in from our resellers, with them telling us how much their customers loved it. The barbers who used our products put into their mix of what they used on their customers.

About a year after launch, we learned that a couple other beard care product makers had introduced their own version. It snowballed from there. More and more places were popping up with their own take on it. Some even using the exact same ingredients. Being a tiny business we did not have the means to hire an attorney to go after all of them. Every couple months we learn of new Beard Butters coming onto the market.

To add insult to all of this, they are now telling the public why it was invented and how it is intended to be used. We were never consulted on this. We don’t even earn a mention. Most of the information is inaccurate as it has warped with the intentions of those that copied our product.

Today there is little we can do. Every time we begin the process to register our trademark we are hit with more upstart beard care makers that didn’t do their homework and decided to use our product’s name. We strive to make it known that we are the inventors of this wondrous product and we have officially renamed our product The Original Beard Butter to be more specific about our relationship to this product. We will continue to tell this story, to make it known that we put our sweat into creating this product from the ground up merely inspired by another product, but certainly not the same; and brought it to the masses as something new and unique for beard care. Nobody can ever take that away from us. Those other folks are merely thieves.

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