A community driven luxury brand bringing quality and craftsmanship to life's essential rituals.
- Market Harborough, United Kingdom
Categories: Clothing & Accessories Mixed Digital/Non-Digital Mixed B2B/B2C
- Social Media
- Company number
- Incorporation date
- 8 Sep 2014
- Investment sought:
- Equity offered:
We make luxury lifestyle essentials for men.
To date this includes:
3 models of classic razor
Organic shave oil & cotton flannel
300 year old British timber shave bowl
Hand-turned shave brush
Natural shave soap
Italian leather wash bag.
We combine high-quality craftsmanship with a modern design and a new attitude to business: open, transparent and responsible.
We have funded our product development with 3 successful 5-figure Kickstarter campaigns, without giving away equity. In so doing, we’ve been able to develop a product range that we know serves a market need.
Where possible everything is hand-made in England or Italy, giving us access to extremely high quality production and rapid product development.
Our mission is to improve the vital “rituals” of life - shaving, washing, bathing, sleeping...
Our next products will be dictated by customer demand (we have a very vocal customer base) but will likely include consumables such as a cologne, soap and an after-shave moisturiser.
Your morning is important.
It should be calm, not rushed. It should be enjoyed, not endured.
That's what started us off with shaving: if you went to a barber they wouldn’t take out a disposable plastic razor. They’d take time over your shave with a classic single blade. Our current product lineup delivers this same experience at home, bringing a moment of calm into your morning with products that you can be proud to own.
But our ambition is bigger than just shaving, or indeed than the morning: customers have changed, and we're ready to serve them.
- Customers today expect sophisticated design & craftsmanship.
We deliver this, and tell the story of our design, product development and craftsmanship through platforms like Kickstarter, online video, blog, social media and podcast.
- Customers today want to be involved at every stage of the products’ development.
We've funded our entire range through crowdfunding. And when we want to make something new, we survey our customers on what they need, they respond (at extremely high rates) with their feedback, and only then do we go into product development. We even use the products themselves to let the customer dig deeper: our British chestnut shave bowl is etched with GPS coordinates leading to where the tree grew.
- Customers today expect companies to act responsibly & transparently.
So we share our business' story on social media and through our popular Coming Clean podcast and blog. On top of that, we’ve created an organic shave oil, developed premium synthetic brush bristles and re-used leather off-cuts to make our razor guard. We bake responsible business into our product lineup. It's what our customers want, and it’s the right thing to do.
We’re a new kind of company for a new breed of customer.
We’re providing something that others can't: a range of considered products of exceptional quality that bring our customers pleasure and calm in a busy day.
Which is something we could all do with...
Substantial accomplishments to date
Since trading began in November 2014 we have achieved:
- We have sold to 35 countries worldwide.
- Three successful Kickstarter campaigns raising over $75,000 (c.£56k) for products.
- One of the fastest ever funded Kickstarter “Product Design” campaigns (typical success rate on Kickstarter is around 35%).
- Turnover of over £80,000, with a gross margin of 35% (c.£28k) and net margin of 3% (c.£2.5k); fully VAT-registered.
- Over 1,000 orders placed, shipping to over 20 countries worldwide.
- Average order value of over £70.
- Nearly 3,000 engaged followers across social media (Facebook: c.1,500 likes; Twitter: c. 850 followers; Instagram c. 550 followers).
- Range of ten lifestyle products, including our “Coming Clean” podcast on iTunes.
- Luxury media coverage from GQ, Wallpaper*, ShortList, FastCompany and more.
- Stocked in the prestigious luxury department store Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly, London.
We have a five-pronged strategy to developing Thomas Clipper.
1) Grow our network of Thomas Clipper followers through developing and sharing content on our online platform, thomasclipper.com and popular social media channels.
2) Sell exceptional, affordable luxury quality products, based on lifestyle rituals - we will continue to develop the “morning range” (especially consumables e.g. aftershave cologne, soap) and will pivot, based on customer need, to other areas such as an “evening range” (e.g., gin, pyjamas) in due course; we will also develop a subscription model for our “morning range”.
3) Build the Thomas Clipper brand, through image-enhancing endorsements from leading luxury publications, marketing and advertising, and well-chosen prestigious retail partnerships.
4) Continuously improve our solid infrastructure base and supply chain.
5) Drive down costs whilst maintaining or improving the end quality of our products, through constantly searching for the best manufacturing partners and/or negotiating down prices as our volumes increase.
Our focus over the next three years in on the UK, US, and European markets; once we have established a leading presence here we will look to expand to the Far East.
We believe within the next three years we will have fully developed into a "mature" affordable luxury brand, at a key inflection where we can either stay targeted and focused or seek to break into the mainstream market. We would look to discuss this business strategy with our investors as we grow.
Use of proceeds
We intend to use the £70k as follows:
- 50% for marketing and advertising to drive activity to our online sales channel - current return on marketing spend is x6.8 (industry average x3).
- 30% to pay for a Digital Marketing Manager to provide full-time (initially 6 months) support to growing the brand - Matt and Antonio would continue to direct the overall strategy and operations of the company and line manage this new role.
- 15% product development - expanding our existing "morning range" with FMCGs and new ranges.
- 5% investment in stock - as required.
We already have a substantial amount of existing stock, solid supply chain, excellent online platform and best-in-class fulfilment partners and so revenue earned in this period is anticipated to be further reinvested in the marketing budget and improving our online retail experience.
Invest from £50 and you will get 25% off everything on thomasclipper.com for a year. The person who referred you to us gets the same discount. And if you invest £1,000 or more you'll receive an invitation to our TC AGM in London, with business insights, a chance to talk to the team in person and a good drink or two.
Two archetypes: "FHM Lad" and "Instagram Man"
Today most men’s products are designed for a creature we call the FHM Lad. He’s content with ugly, plastic, throw-away gear. He’s not going to spend more than 30 seconds on his morning routine. There’s a reason FHM went bust: lad culture is on the wane. Something new is replacing it.
Look at the number of men with well groomed facial hair. Fashion blogging and selfie culture is increasing a male pastime for millennials. For Gen X-ers we see an increase in cycling (healthy) over golf (boozy). In short: men today care about how they look.
But most popular brands for men were created for the FHM Lad. They ‘do the job’, or offer some gimmick that gives their target an excuse to buy a ‘girly’ product.
The FHM Lad is dead. Long live the Instagram Man.
His research is thorough and online, although he might ‘showroom’ a product in-store before buying it on the website. He cares about the products he buys, and he is invested in the story of how they’re made. He wants to be part of a movement that values quality, innovation and design. He shares every element of his life online, from his holiday photos to his #ShaveOfTheDay. He’s not afraid to invest in his appearance, whether in the form of membership to a gym or a new suit.
Instagram Man often shops at at Lidl, but spurges at Borough Market for fun. He books an AirBnB and flies Easyjet, but eats at a Michelin starred restaurant when he arrives. He’s got three suits from ASOS and one from Savile Row (with nothing in between). He has a £50 rusty bike for commuting but he’s saving up for a £2,000 Italian model for holidays.
We know our customers hold out sometimes for months before buying our products. They’re a special treat. There’s increasingly little room in the middle ground: so we’re firmly positioning ourselves as the affordable luxury that Instagram Man can research, know inside-out, and own with pride.
Characteristics of target market
We sit at the intersection of the huge luxury goods, beauty and personal and toiletries markets. The global luxury goods market is valued at over $200bn dollars (Bain & Company), and the men's grooming market is valued at over $35bn (Financial Times). And these markets are growing rapidly: in the UK alone, the luxury goods market grew over 21% from 2010 to 2015 to nearly £12bn (Euromonitor); the beauty and personal care market grew by nearly 16% from 2009 to 2014 to nearly £11.2bn (Euromonitor); and the men’s toiletries and fragrances market has grown rapidly since 2010 to £1.4bn (Key Note Research).
Forecasts indicate growth is set to continue and that this is a “recession-proof” market. Research has indicated that economic hardship has led men to taking greater care than before in their appearance. Despite the growth in popularity of “hipster beards” sales in shaving products have continued increase as beards still require trimming or sculpting. At Thomas Clipper, we encourage a mindset that our products as as much for those who shave every day to those who only shave on special occasions. And our product development strategy has already begun to broaden our appeal beyond shaving.
We have, to date, experimented with four sales channels:
- Direct, through crowd-funding platform Kickstarter
- Direct, from our online sales platform, thomasclipper.com
- Physical retailers
- Online retailers.
We have found that the luxury nature of Thomas Clipper can be lost going through a third party and sales were not particularly strong. As such, we are deprioritising third-party online retailers going forward.
We have carefully selected three distinctive types of physical retailers through which to be stocked over the past 18 months, in order to evaluate the efficacy of each. The first was a retailer with a strong local brand; the second a pop-up retailer in Shoreditch, with a large amount of national media coverage; and third, the prestigious and globally-renowned luxury retailer Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly, London. We have found that since retailers look for a material mark-up for “affordable luxury” products, there are many financial disbenefits from actively pursuing the retail route. However, in the case of Fortnum & Mason, where there are clear strategic benefits in brand association (e.g., the linking of Fortnum & Mason with Thomas Clipper has strongly enhanced our status as an “affordable luxury” British brand) we feel the relationship is strongly mutually beneficial. As such, it is our intention to continue to develop similar relationships with luxury retailers in flagship international cities such as Paris, Milan and New York.
Notwithstanding, the vast majority of our sales have come from online sales channels: Kickstarter and ThomasClipper.com. This is the most economically attractive route for us as there is no (or minimal) “cut” to third-parties and we maintain full control of the Thomas Clipper brand and presentation. As such, it is our strategy to drive traffic to thomasclipper.com directly through our marketing budget, whilst building the Thomas Clipper luxury brand through judiciously chosen international retail partnerships.
The number of emerging players in the men’s toiletries market indicates a growing market. Whilst there are a small number of dominant players in this area, these are all large multinationals such as Proctor & Gamble and Unilever which our earlier archetype of “Instagram Man” finds uninspiring. Thomas Clipper has a clear mark of differentiation against brands which are emerging as competitors to these established companies in the shaving space in two ways:
1) We are firmly an “affordable luxury” product; whereas our competitors prize time-saving and cost and key selling points, we combine affordability with a luxury craftsmanship finish.
2) We are embedded in people’s lives as a brand rather than something which is merely part of the mundane nature of getting ready in the morning; our customers are loyal and committed followers - they are proud to tweet that they have our Mark K in their bathroom - indeed, many post their razors on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which they would be unlikely to do with a plastic razor.
In addition, we are very clearly a British brand which takes the best of British design and craftsmanship with other leading international products, such as our Tuscan Wash Bag; designed in London, but brought to life by our world-leading leather artisans in Florence. This gives us an edge against competitors in the UK as a 'home grown' British brand. But it also gives us a competitive angle in markets that favour 'brand UK', such as the USA, northern continental Europe and emerging markets.
Finally, because our supply chain is tied into British manufacture the result of the Brexit referendum and the drop in sterling will likely make us increasingly attractive outside of the UK for export.