Sam the Man – Apothecary 87

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October 13, 2014

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We’re rather glad that Sam Martin decided to change careers. As a former bartender and events organiser (and I’m sure a very good one at that) he has finally found his true vocation in life – as a beard grooming maestro.

Sam’s company Apothecary 87, whose beard products are made in the UK with Manly Pride, is taking off at the speed of knots. It’s clear this man understands what a hirsute man needs to be that extra bit MANly. After all, he has fabulous beard himself.

Here’s what Sam had to say when we caught up with him earlier this month:

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How and when did you first set up Apothecary 87 – what was the inspiration behind it?

I first set up Apothecary 87, because of the lack of products on the market, that worked on my face fuzz. I made my own beard oil, for personal use. I started to develop a following on social media, and people kept asking where they could get hold of the beard oil. Eventually I gave in to all the people wanting it, put the products into testing and started the business.

The inspiration for the name “Apothecary 87” came from a few things. I wanted a company name that people associated with vintage products, and an Apothecary is basically a vintage chemist, who made tonics and remedies for all kinds of things. This felt vintage and masculine to me, which was what I wanted, but it felt incomplete. I decided I wanted a second part to the name, something personal and meaningful. When my Granddad passed away (just before launching the company), he was 87. As he was a huge supporter of me, and by far the MANliest MAN I knew, I decided that having the “87” in the name would be the perfect way to remember him and say “thank you” for everything he did for me.

Before starting Apothecary you worked as an events organiser and bartender – what was the transition to male grooming like?

The transition wasn’t too bad from my previous job. I owned an events bar and bar consultancy/training company. I spent MANy years mixing drinks and teaching people how to mix, so it was just taking what I knew and applying it to a different type of ingredient. The brand is heavily focused on keeping that, and the original recipe beard oil was designed to be similar to a vintage drink in the way it is named, and the large number of ingredients it has.

The hardest part of the transition was at the end of the first month of trading as Apothecary 87. The business grew so fast, that all my time was taken up, and I had to start looking for buyers for my old business. Within 2 months of running Apothecary 87, I had sold my bar, and was full time A87.

Have you always had a beard?

I have always had medium to long stubble, but around 6 years ago, when I was 20, I started to grow a beard. Beards weren’t very popular then, but I found the hardest part of running my bar consultancy, was being so young. I had a lot more experience than most people would get in a lifetime of working in bars, and nobody took me seriously, as I looked so young. Once I had grown a beard, this changed quickly, and even became a large part of my own personal branding.

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How do you care for yours – what’s your favourite product in the line?

I wash my beard every day, at the moment I am using a shampoo that we will be launching in a few months, I then partially dry my beard and apply a few drops of our Original Recipe beard oil whilst the beard is still damp and warm from washing.

My favourite has to be the Original Recipe. It was the start of everything, and it was completely designed around my own preferences for feel, smell, and quality. Having said that, all the products we do, were developed because I needed something for myself and couldn’t find anything to do the job to the standard that I wanted. The only exception was Milly’s MANgo beard oil, which was created to be a mixture of what I saw as quality and what Chris Millington wanted from a beard product.

Tell us about your product lines – which are your best sellers?

Our beard oils are really our biggest sellers, but our wooden combs are really starting to become a staple in people’s grooming routine!

What’s your opinion on the current popularity of facial hair?

Beards are a huge thing at the moment. In the UK they are everywhere, and a lot of the world is following that trend. We are currently in 60 countries world wide and growing fast, so beards are popular world wide. There are aspects to this being a “trend”, but there are also a huge number of people, like myself, who feel their face would be bare without a MAN beard upon it!

For me, Richard Branson, is my biggest bearded hero. The amount he has achieved in his lifetime is insane!

What was the most challenging aspect of setting up your business?

For me, the most challenging part is doing all the things I have never done before. We now have a team of 7 staff, and we are growing fast. There is a lot I hadn’t done, especially with retailing a product being something I hadn’t done before. I am constantly learning, and doing new things. It’s a challenge, but having a challenge is the main thing that drives me.

What advise would you give to anyone starting out in business?

This is a tough one. I could write for hours about various aspects of business. But for me, the biggest thing is trying to get lots of research and different perspectives of what you are doing, and making sure you are different to everyone else. Be your own business, and do things the right way for you.

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On a scale of 1-5 please rate the following beards – Billy Gibbons, Jack Passion, Chris John Millington, Poseidon, Abraham Lincoln.

Well, of course Chris is going to be at the top! He is Milly, of Milly’s and MANgo.
Next would be Poseidon. He is the god of Sea and Earth, so I think he would have one MANly beard!
I think that Abe would have to come next, he achieved so much, and his face fuzz is famous in it’s own right!
Last, but not at all least would be Jack Passion and Billy Gibbons. Their beards are beyond awesome! But how can yo compete with a God, a President and a Milly!?

Who is your ultimate bearded hero and why?

For me, Richard Branson, is my biggest bearded hero. The amount he has achieved in his lifetime is insane! If I can achieve a fraction of what he has, I will consider myself a success!

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apothecary87.co.uk

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