Navigating the Unknown of Men’s Cosmetics with Fenton Jagdeo

The beginning of creative entrepreneurship starts with solving a problem. For beauty, that may look like developing a new skincare formula or even a long-lasting eye shadow. But what if you have an idea that introduces an entirely new market? Perhaps, an altogether new concept, like men’s cosmetics, that hasn’t grown into a standout beauty category yet? Fenton Jagdeo and Umar ElBably realized that the concept of masculinity is changing and wanted a cosmetics brand for the new wave of masculinity.

Fenton Jagdeo and Umar ElBably realized that the concept of masculinity is changing and wanted a cosmetics brand for the new wave of masculinity. “Masculinity can be defined how you choose to define it, and we feel the same way. Because if you look good in your skin and you feel good in your skin, you can go out and be the best person you can be,” shares Fenton. The beauty industry is projected to grow by $700 billion by 2025 and has the eyes and attention of Gen Z, who has direct and indirect $143 billion spending power. However, it lacks a market for people who identify with masculinity. Faculty is a visually appealing brand that gives people experiencing masculinity the permission to go and take care of themselves in the most self-expressive opportunities they can — and do it in a way that makes them feel good.

When paving the way for an entirely new market, there are a lot of unknowns. Just like there may be many unknowns when coming up with a brand, service, or product that solves a problem but has not been attempted before. With the importance of career and financial security, or wanting to see success before attempting your business or pursuing a particular career path, we sat down with Fenton, Beauty Business Essentials contributor, to talk about navigating new business and how you can create your own career plan.

Fenton Jagdeo, Beauty Business Essentials contributor
Fenton Jagdeo, Co-founder of Faculty and Beauty Business Essentials contributor

On new markets: 

Why do you think there aren’t many competitors within men’s cosmetics right now?

“I don’t think there are many competitors in our space because I don’t think many brands know how to do this right. We are not the first cosmetics company to attempt a target towards masculinity. Let’s not forget that in the early 2000s and 2010s, Jean-Paul Gaultier, a major fashion house, tried to make concealer for guys. They had all the capital in the world and all the connections — everything you could want from a brand or a fashion house but were unsuccessful in driving the adoption of their products. Did John Paul Gaultier know how to do this effectively in the early 2000s or early 2010s? Probably not. It’s a very different ecosystem now. I think permission is much more accepted, and the clients and the customer are a lot easier to target and navigate. 

So, of course, the brands that are coming up now are attempting this. But there may not be many because they might not see the market or see how ample the market opportunity is. And quite frankly, from a branding perspective, they may not align with Gen Z. Truthfully, many brands are attempting this. But, still, they may come across as incredibly hyper-masculine, which creates a distaste for a generation less concerned about gender consumption and more concerned about feeling good in their skin. 

How do we avoid the pitfalls of Jean-Paul Gaultier, who had all the money in the world and couldn’t make this happen? Or, the existing brands that have focused marketing in such a way that turns off the customer?” 

On navigating the unknown:

What’s your advice on navigating the unknown? 

“If it feels uncomfortable, you’re probably doing a good job. This experience that we’re doing with Faculty, this company that we’re building — we’re one of a kind, we’re unique. It feels uncomfortable. It feels like we’re doing something different and opposing the traditional playbook of cosmetics. This playbook has existed for hundreds of years. It hasn’t changed until pretty much now.

If you’re doing something different and you’re navigating the world differently, then embrace it. Embrace that unknown. Another way of navigating the unknown is truthfully reveling, understanding, and experiencing it, feeling that uncomfortableness. Because there is comfort in discomfort, I promise you that. And all it matters is that you’re taking one step every day towards building something. What you can rely on is that you’re ensuring that you are using the trends, the ecosystem, your advisory group, the news articles you’re seeing to guide your vision because that’s what we’re doing, too.”

If you’re doing something different and you’re navigating the world differently, then embrace it. Embrace that unknown. – Fenton Jagdeo

On new career paths or creating your own lane (especially in men’s cosmetics):

Becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t an overnight journey. You’ve created Faculty from being prepared from your experiences or passion. What are some like hints to a career in beauty? What are things you need to experience first, things you may be interested in, etc.? 

“So there are so many ways that there’s no one right way to go about doing this. There’s only a way that works for you. And, it all depends on what you’re interested in and how you want to go about doing it. But what many people don’t realize is that most companies are the same. Just look at a business and take away all the industry jargon. The frill and everything that makes that industry unique. You are pushing your product at a price point to an audience — hoping that there’s a feedback loop where they rebuy the product. Then, you create all these stats. There’s a lot of your learnings you can take from other businesses.

You can also take general business courses. Or, jump into strategy management consulting as I did. Perhaps even go into accounting to understand the business side. You can start a career in operations. You can work for Sephora or work for some of the biggest beauty brands for a couple of years to get your feet wet. Those are also really appropriate opportunities to familiarize themselves with this space, climb the career ladder, and give yourself the life skills to “go out and do this.” 

Or, you can do something with even more rope — starting and preparing a slate of advisors around you who have the experience in the areas required to create and maintain a business. Then, use these advisors as your soundcheck for building out your brand.” 

Want to explore how to take a beauty concept to market and learn from more industry experts like Fenton? Experience the Beauty Business Essentials course, or learn about your career goals in beauty with our Ultimate Beauty Career Guide.

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