“Created by Barbers.”
The Charlemagne Story
For years, beards have undeniably dominated the realm of trends. A mere stroll outside or a glance at your Instagram feed affirms this cultural phenomenon. Charlemagne cleverly combines both aspects under its brand, paying homage to the Great Emperor Karl. Yet, the journey for founders Sascha and Shain to establish their online and barbershop, featuring a unique concept store, was no easy feat. Let's embark on their story from the very beginning.
At the inception of Charlemagne Barber Ventures GmbH lies a foundation of friendship. Shain Nikkhah-Eshghi, the proprietor of Kings Barbers in Aachen, stands as the visionary behind the city's first authentic barbershop. His journey as a barber led him to Hastings, England, where he not only gathered the courage to establish his own shop in Germany but also honed the distinctive barbering skills that set his work apart.
Barber meets marketing agency
It's serendipity when Sascha and Shain cross paths one day. Sascha, launching his advertising agency, meets Shain, eager to promote his barbershop. A perfect match of supply meeting demand. What started as an intensive collaboration between Sascha and one of his early clients evolved into casual discussions, sparking ideas for potential joint ventures. The camaraderie between these two young entrepreneurs was palpable, and the desire to build something together became undeniable. But how does one seamlessly blend a barber and a marketer? It was 2013, and the landscape for beard care products in Germany was scarce, while England was the epicenter of the trend. Recognizing the opportunity, Shain and Sascha decided to source an array of beard oils and ingredients from around the globe. Each ingredient underwent meticulous scrutiny, with analyses of mixing ratios and thorough comparisons.
They started working on their own recipe - initially just so that Shain would no longer have to order his products from abroad. Next, the born entrepreneurs order all the ingredients from various chemical manufacturers. Today, the long nights in Shain's basement, which functions as a laboratory, are unforgettable. The whole thing was a bit reminiscent of the cult series Breaking Bad. However, it is not drugs that are produced, but rather fragrances and care products. A lot of time passed, Shahin's barbers and Kings Barbers' customers were constant product testers, but in the end the two were experts in the chemical composition of beard care products. This direct exchange with the target group ensures that the development process is very targeted. The only obstacle is the fact that both of them are pursuing the project part-time (i.e. at night). Nevertheless, the business partners founded Charlemagne Barber Ventures GmbH in 2016.
Achieve success with a mix of online and offline
From the very beginning, Sascha and Shain attached great importance to high quality. This applies not only to the products themselves, but also to the packaging. To start off, Charlemagne is releasing her first beard oil in three different scents. Her idea of sending test sets to various barbershops on a “random basis” turns out to be less profitable. But then things started to look up: Sascha's marketing experience complements Shain's know-how and the reach of his barbershop. The brand achieves a high following on Instagram and Facebook in a short time; The employees of Sascha's agency Bitzdesign work on sales, marketing and PR strategies every day. Due to growing demand, Charlemagne's offering will be gradually expanded in the coming months and, in addition to beard oil, will now also include Beard Balm and wax. The next step is to make the transition to head hair; hair care products are also very popular today.
Initially sales will take place via Amazon, but the company's own online shop will be operational in 2018. Until 2018, recipes and packaging were still worked on by hand; the two met every day after work to stick labels and send orders. Fortunately, things are quicker and more professional today. Today Charlemagne is a full-time job. What started as an experiment is now a company that operates on various channels: its own studio for the Charlemagne YouTube channel and its own barbershop in downtown Aachen.
Of course, Charlemagne also has to deal with occasional setbacks and mistakes. In the meantime, the production of 6,000 cans of pomade turns out to be an absolute failure because the consistency of the container is completely different than planned. Despite such setbacks, the startup continues to move upwards. Not just online, but also offline. At the end of 2019, Shain closed his first barbershop "Kings Barbers", which was bursting at the seams at this point. Just one day later, on January 1st, 2020, the first Charlemagne Barbershop will open right next to Aachen Cathedral. With the barbershop, Sascha and Shain fulfilled a long-awaited dream. Kings Barbers slowly became too small for the high volume of customers and a project that combined the barbershop and the stylish brand had long been an idea. When Sport Gruber moved out of Kockerellstrasse at the Aachen market after many years, a unique opportunity presented itself: a huge barbershop on over 145 square meters and two floors, right next to a gin and a craft beer bar and in the beautiful old town of Aachen.
Sascha and Shain at one of our packaging manufacturers in China
For some time now, everyday work at Charlemagne has also included visiting trade fairs. This is essential, especially in the areas of cosmetics and care products, in order to stay up to date on new developments and trends. The young team does not limit itself to Germany, but rather visits trade fairs and manufacturers all over the world. Charlemagne is a matter of the heart that has become a full-time job. Every cent earned is immediately reinvested in new measures or product development, so that in addition to beard care products, Charlemagne now also offers hair styling products, hairdressing supplies and even its own range of perfumes.
Sascha and Shain at our laboratory in Germany in front of the pomade filling plant
The products no longer have to be manufactured in a basement, but are outsourced to a professional laboratory. What was once a purely business relationship has developed into a close friendship between Sascha and Shain. The two founders now want to conquer the B2B market together and bring Charlemagne products to customers through larger retailers. Fortunately, they are no longer alone in their mission. Charlemagne now employs a few people.