This month’s focus on “The Business of doing Business” in New York City, highlights the evolution of people in their careers, the real challenges that start-ups face and their victories, and the change-makers and influencers, who truly transform the zeitgeist of the city. Today, we chat with Dan Pettit, John Crescenti, and Preston Hage, co-founders of TENZING, a performance skincare line for men.
– By Khahlil Louisy
This month is all about “the business of doing business” on BONNE New York. Tell us, why did you three men decide to launch a men’s skincare brand?
We are three friends, living in Orlando and running successful businesses on our own. We love running companies. While we had no previous experience in the grooming world, we identified a void in the market and saw an opportunity to create a company that would fill it. There were natural products that were healthy for your skin but lacked performance and then there were chemically laden products that performed well but were extremely harsh on your skin. We no longer wanted men to have to make the choice between performance and health. We are all busy raising children and running other businesses, but once we got our feet wet, the business opportunity turned into passion and we found ourselves focus much of our energy on TENZING.
Let’s talk about starting the business, why the name TENZING and what was the startup process like?
TENZING is a men’s skincare brand named after Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, part of the first two-man team to climb Mt. Everest more than 60 years ago. The name is defined in the brand – life is full of adventures and Everest is a reference point for success. TENZING skincare was created to help men begin their day feeling great, and will allow consumers to walk out bathroom feeling healthy and empowered, ready to conquer whatever challenge is before them.
“Every man has his own mountain to climb. May it be the next position within your company, landing that perfect date, or reaching that fitness milestone. We all are seeking to conquer something.”
How did you source a lab or chemist, or who do you even go to, to start a skincare brand?
By doing our market research, the two most important factors in choosing a laboratory were to be able to create aloe-based products and these products must have anti-aging elements. We did a lot of research, scoured the internet, made tons of phone calls, and in-person site visits to finally find a laboratory that met these specifications. We continue to work closely with our lab to ensure the formulation of top quality products and continual innovation of new products.
What was the branding process like for you? So many people make purchases based entirely on what the product’s packaging look like.
We wanted to create packaging that was powerful, yet simple and attractive. (just like our ingredients) Like Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who summited Mount Everest, we wanted our branding to exemplify each man’s desire to climb their own personal mountains. Taking the first step by using natural, aloe-based products from on their skin would put them on track to Start Their Day Great. Every man has his own mountain to climb. May it be the next position within your company, landing that perfect date, or reaching that fitness milestone. We all are seeking to conquer something. When you start your day great, you are empowered to get out there and make something happen.
What has been most challenging for you as entrepreneurs?
The most challenging part as entrepreneurs – we know we have created an amazing product, and the response from the consumers has been amazing, however as any new startup business, the challenge is getting the word out so that more people can become aware of our products. The days are filled with highs and lows. We have many battle scars to mark the journey we have been on thus far, but we are consumed with passion for our brand, committed to cause and will continue stepping forward.
Entrepreneurship is incredibly demanding; how do you strike the work/life balance?
We have to work in the dark hours when everyone else is asleep. We have found a new affinity for coffee. (so much so, we have included in our latest product – Tenzing Daily Face Wash). You have to manage your time well and be really organized. You have to create efficient processes and execute with precise systems in place.
How do you keep up with beauty trends to develop new products? For example, activated charcoal is all the rage in beauty now, how do you know what’s “in,” to then use in your product?
If you wait until the new “in” product is on the market, you have missed the boat. You need to be at the forefront and continuing pioneering with new innovative products. We continue to read industry periodicals and have relationships with beauty experts in the industry. We have chosen an amazing laboratory that works tirelessly to discover new and exciting benefits with natural ingredients sourced from all over the world, so that we can set the trends.
TENZING All-Over Body Wash, Sandalwood face moisturizer, daily face wash, premium shave cream, and pre-shave oil.
As far as product development and branding goes, do you think it is important to identify one customer profile and develop products around that singular profile, or do you develop products for and market to a range of people?
We definitely have a customer profile; a health-conscious, affluent minded, adventures man who is intentional about his image and cares about his skin.
This customer is always on the forefront of our mind when creating products that he will need, and love.
Having products that eliminates additional steps is great for guys who are very busy, or maybe don’t care much for spending time taking care of their skin. Do you think we will get to a point where men will take time to go through multiple steps in their skincare routine?
Men are looking for ways to condense their time in front of the mirror. That is why we wanted to create great products that they can use from day one, without the need for a plethora of steps to get ready in the morning. We want to provide them with products that encourage them to have a simple skincare routine that helps them feel great and conquer their day.
What is your own skincare routine like?
I start the morning with our Daily Face Wash. I then like to use our preshave oil to soften my stubble prior to shaving. Then I apply our Sandalwood Shave Cream and shave my face. Afterwards I apply a dab of the Sandalwood Face Moisturizer. From start to finish, it takes less than 10 minutes.
Where do you hope to take the brand in the coming years?
We want to continue growing our e-commerce platform and partner with the right specialty retailers. We would like to continue to grow our product line, but we want to be known for creating effective products that make an impact.
Customer loyalty is incredibly important for the growth of any business. How are you communicating your ideals to new consumers who could possibly grow with the brand?
We are in constant contact through social media outlets and email follow ups. This is a huge priority for us as a brand and are working diligently on customer engagement. Customer retention will always be a strong focus.
How do you relax and what is your drink of choice?
I enjoy reading books, other entrepreneurial stories, biographies on successful men and women to relax. My drink of choice??? Coffee…straight up!
What do you want customers to know most about the brand?
Our products were created for them to be and feel their very best every day.
Check out the other products from the brand at: TENZING SKINCARE.
This interview has been edited. Photograph of the cofounders provided by TENZING. Products photographed by Khahlil Louisy for BONNE New York.