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Updated: Jun 17, 2016
After grinding away at a regular 9 to 5 job, Ryan Lane realized he wanted something more out of life than his desk job had to offer. He talked about it at length with his wife, Brittany, and in 2012 they decided to go against the grain.
Ryan and Brittany quit their jobs, relocated from Ohio to Georgia, and moved in with Brittany’s dad. They applied for over 400 jobs, but amidst the years of the Great Recession, they heard nothing back. Many people might feel demoralized after such a big change in lifestyle, but Ryan and Brittany immediately got down to business — their own business.
It all began when Ryan’s beard started itching.
Ryan tried his hand at making beard oils for sensitive skin, and at first Brittany thought he was crazy. But after the three new scents she helped him create got rave reviews from friends and family, they decided to make it official. They opened their Etsy store online — with $46 in their bank account.
“My wife and I literally started our business on my father-in-law’s dining room table. Then his living room. Then his kitchen. We’d work till 2 or 3 a.m. and did what we had to do to make it happen. I have really fond memories of that time.”
As one of the earliest smash success stories on Etsy, they rapidly grew into a social media powerhouse and new product phenomenon in the bearded community. Ryan and Brittany’s oils were designed to empower every guy to be the best version of himself. “We want our products to be for everybody, even if you have to be clean-shaven to work a job and provide for your family.”
“There are definitely days when I feel like clocking out, but when you own your own business, you don’t have that option. It’s not for the faint of heart — it’s for people who truly want to go hard and work hard.”
Paying customers quickly took note and spread the word online. “We work hard to make our customers feel like part of the Dream Beard family. When customers buy our products, it doesn’t feel like a big corporation, because we care about each and every sale.” With this mission in place, they quickly mapped out a plan to offer high quality hair, beard, and body products through their new business: Dream Beard.
Ryan and Brittany ran their business out of their dad’s house until bottling supplies and boxes were tickling the ceilings. Then they found their own house with a large finished basement space they could use for Dream Beard headquarters. They hired their first employees, and specifically looked for jacks of all trades who would love each part of the business as much as they did. “We’re a family: no one barks orders or micro-manages. We trust people to get the job done in the way they think it needs to be done.”
“In the beginning, we started writing handwritten notes for every order. Despite how much we’ve grown, we still spend hours following that tradition each week because we cherish every sale.”
Ryan and Brittany continued down a slick path of high-growth, repeatedly “beard-strapping” and reinvesting profits from their early days of sales to evolve their business. But there eventually came a point in Fall 2015 where they just couldn’t keep up customer demand — and risked losing out on precious sales if they couldn’t gather enough funds for holiday season inventory. “We create so many different products now that we often have to buy in bulk — and we don’t always have financing to purchase that much in advance.”
They needed a lender fast — so like many Millennials, Ryan and Brittany turned to Google and social media for help, and found Funding Circle. “The application process was seamless, and the customer service was awesome. Everyone was really informative, helpful, and easy to talk to. I felt secure in what we were doing.”
With a loan for $25,000 in hand, Ryan and Brittany were able to lather up their holiday sales revenue and pursue even more ambitious plans moving forward — including launching even more new products, hiring a scientist to evolve their formulas, and securing marketing partnerships with other brands and bands. Their theme for 2016? “Our goal this year is to solidify our brand and legitimacy as business owners. We’re not here to blow up and blow out.”
“Our Funding Circle loan gave us the ability to make investments in new products and inventory for busy season, and the freedom to do exactly what we want to do with our business.”
Today, Dream Beard is in over 65 countries and offers a total hair, beard, and body care system with a shiny, healthy future ahead — but Ryan and Brittany never lose track of Dream Beard’s humble roots.
“What I love most about Dream Beard is watching it change and grow, and the people we’ve connected with along the way. Those relationships are priceless.”
Paige Smith is a Content Marketing Writer and Senior Contributing Writer at Funding Circle. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and specializes in writing about the intersection of business, finance, and tech. Paige has written for a number of B2B industry leaders, including fintech companies, small business lenders, and business credit resource sites.