Jack Haldrup: Dr. Squatch
A simple idea raised the bar on the men’s grooming industry and how men approach their hygiene.
Heeding Nature’s Call
Sometimes the biggest success stories are spawned by the simplest of ideas. This was the case for Jack Haldrup, who came up with a business idea and scrawled it on a napkin while on an airplane flight. He was restless, wanting something more than what his current job could offer. By the time he stepped off the plane, he knew exactly what he wanted to pour his energy into – creating a line of high-quality natural soap for men.
Going at it from scratch wasn’t easy but he was determined. He did his homework and learned to build a website, researched suppliers, and honed marketing skills – practical tools he needed to launch his product. Not knowing a thing about soap-making, he taught himself how and learned all about natural ingredients.
“A major advantage I had was that I was creating a product I wanted to buy myself. I also didn’t really identify with any of the brandings that were out there with other soap companies,” says Haldrup in a MarTech podcast. “From that aspect, I didn’t have to guess what my customers wanted. I just had to build something that I wanted.”
In an industry awash in soap products be it artisanal or mega-produced by the likes of Unilever and Proctor & Gamble, how could his fledgling boutique enterprise compete on a shoestring budget? Staring down a saturated market and crafting soap bars out of his garage, he persevered and managed to accomplish in only a few years what many entrepreneurial startups dream of. Haldrup went from selling a few bars a week to 2,000 a day and ramped up to create a $6 million-a-year business.
Sweet Smell of Success
How he accomplished this is nothing short of amazingly smart. First, he identified an opportunity in the marketplace and found that men were being underserved for natural soap products. He wanted his product to stand out from all others, making it appealing to men and the women that like to buy for men. He wanted his soaps to be handmade with minimal all-natural ingredients, and most importantly, have manly outdoor scents that men would love and continue to use.
He focused on the basics, making soaps from pure shea butter with coconut and olive oils, adding scented essential oils and natural exfoliants —ingredients that nourish the skin. Each bar is plainly wrapped in brown paper packaging and simply labeled with the name of a woodsy or other of nature’s wild scents. Haldrup aptly named his company and product line Dr. Squatch, as in “Sasquatch” evoking visions of a hairy bigfoot tromping through the wilds of the great Northwest.
Haldrup’s top-selling soap has the distinct smell of pine tar. Other top sellers are labeled Gold Moss Scrub and Bay Rum, along with a host of other top customer-rated earthy fragranced selections. A recent addition to the product line is the Area 51 THICC BRICC, already a smash hit, it contains real desert sand, prickly pear cactus oil, shungite, and an “intergalactic freshness” scent that’s sure to give you “an out of this world experience.” The product line has been expanded to include scented candles, hair products, colognes, beard oils, traditional shaving supplies, and even Dr. Squatch branded gear and gifts.
Marketing a Boutique Business
Haldrup kept his overhead low and realized profitability as soon as he launched to market. Most of his sales are made through his website via social media marketing. He spends most of his advertising dollars on Facebook ads, featuring attractive offers enticing customers to sign up for a “soapscription” for monthly or quarterly soap deliveries that come with free shipping. With over 250,000 subscribers, the future is smelling like roses, or rather, pine tar.
He employed clever marketing tactics to drive his target audience into realizing their need for Dr. Squatch products. To distinguish his product from others, he uses a comparison of his natural soaps’ superior quality vs. chemical-laden store-bought versions. Eventually, the messaging was adjusted to incorporate customer’s feedback on what they liked best about the products.
Utilizing influencer marketing is the latest endeavor for the company in their ongoing effort to acquire new customers. Another effective marketing tool is the creation of high impact videos to grab viewers’ attention especially while scrolling on mobile phones. Take a moment to be entertained by watching this Dr. Squatch video…
On SeniorLevel.com, Haldrup shares insight on his experience, “Like most entrepreneurs, I ran into a lot of barriers when starting out. There was no guidebook on how to start a subscription soap company, and certainly, nothing that I learned in business school gave me a guide on how to accomplish what I was trying to do. Starting Dr. Squatch gave me the confidence and perseverance to know that I can solve any problem.”
He has no intention of selling his products in big box retailers or even on Amazon. He’s content with offering them just through his website, it’s a model that works and he’s sticking to it like … well, pine tar. Other than adding personnel and expanding manufacturing and distribution capabilities, not much else has changed. He runs a lean operation, encouraging innovation, and valuing customer feedback.
Haldrup’s star achievement is turning Dr. Squatch into the top subscription-based soap company in the country. His success and business model have caught the attention of media and he is often featured on podcasts, news sites, and in publications. Besides telling his story, he offers tips and encourages those who want to break into entrepreneurship to use his experience as a blueprint for creating and fulfilling their own dreams.
Learn more about Haldrup and his Dr. Squatch products at drsquatch.com.