How The Longhairs Grew To $30K Per Month Selling Hair Ties For Men

The Story of The Longhairs

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

We’re Chris Healy and Lindsay Barto, founders of The Longhairs. Our flagship product is Hair Ties For Guys™, the finest hair ties in the world, offering these and other superior products for men with long hair on our website, thelonghairs.us.

We started our business in 2014 without a following, and over four years we’ve grown our audience to 60K monthly website visitors, 20K email subscribers, and 28K YouTube subscribers, with monthly revenue of $30K.

Our company logo

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

With backgrounds in design, development, interactive media and copywriting, we started out running a digital agency, building websites for clients, doing email, social media and advertising. It was good business, allowing us to earn a living while learning and practicing skills in the digital space.

The idea struck: Hair Ties...For Guys! We had it! The idea was funny, punchy, and a little ridiculous...it was perfect!

Even so we always believed the agency was a means to an end, and from the beginning we were searching for “our thing.” We tried a few ideas but nothing had really stuck, until we were driving home from a client meeting on a fateful day in April, 2014.

Driving home

Coincidentally we had both been growing our hair long, each for the first time, and we started to notice there was something unique about being guys with long hair. We experienced problems, like not knowing how to deal with it, or what products to use, and when we started tying our hair up we found the hair ties available were, a) poor in quality and, b) designed, marketed and sold almost exclusively to women.

There we were, two guys with long manes, running a digital agency, using crappy hair ties from the women’s hair care aisle that snapped and pulled our hair out, when the idea struck: it was Hair Ties...For Guys! We had it! The idea was funny, punchy, and a little ridiculous...it was perfect! We were gonna make a million bucks.

From that moment we began pursuing the idea, so intently that within 10 days we had created a full production video commercial for this imaginary product. As we eagerly prepared to launch the video, it dawned on us we didn’t have a product, or a website, or a company, or anything except an idea and a funny commercial.

HTFG video

That’s when we realized: this is about more than just hair ties. It’s about why guys with long hair need Hair Ties For Guys™. Hence The Longhairs was conceived: an online community for men with long hair, where we publish tips and tactics for guys with flow, advocate for hair equality, and celebrate men’s long manes with hair whips and high fives. We designed a logo, crafted our message, and began building a brand, where The Longhairs was the overarching theme, and hair ties would be our entry product.

Early on we made a commitment to publish original content once a week: videos, articles, tips, and tutorials. While still running the agency to make ends meet, we began to build a following. At first we had very few readers, but over the first year we started getting traction with web traffic, blog comments, email subscribers and social media, all the while pursuing the development of our first product.

Describe the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing the product.

Developing the product was far more difficult than we’d imagined, taking almost two years from the idea to a minimum viable product.

We started with buying materials from the fabric store and making our own hair ties, which gave us a good idea of what we wanted, but we had no idea how to get them manufactured.

In a stroke of luck, we met a bro with long hair at a creative networking meetup. Turned out he was the owner of a local agency with international manufacturing connections, who became our broker. Reaching out to several manufacturers on our behalf, we were able to find one that could meet our needs.

the-longhairs-growing-to-30-000-per-month-selling-hair-ties-for-men

We went through four rounds of samples, designing patterns and collections in-house and working with the manufacturer to get our designs printed on materials that met our specifications. It was painstakingly slow, but at long last we released Hair Ties For Guys™ (December 2015), one year after launching the brand and starting our blog (December 2014). We had a launch party where we took pre-orders, and within a couple weeks we began selling online.

Meanwhile we were forming our business entity, securing intellectual property, setting up business accounts and developing our website, while publishing a new blog post every week without fail. All told we invested over 1,000 hours each and $10K in the first year, before we ever made a dollar. But we believed.

Describe the process of launching the online store/business.

It took eight months from the idea to launching the brand, then another year until we were selling. All through this time our agency was the only source of income. Starting out selling $500 websites, we learned the long, hard way what it takes to be web professionals. Grinding it out over four years we developed that business into selling $40K web projects, delivering results for our clients while growing our skills.

Agency life

What little money and hours we could pull from our agency we invested into The Longhairs. Most weeks it was all we could do to publish a blog post, but still we never missed. This proved to be the single biggest game-changer, steadily driving an increasing volume of traffic to our website through organic search. As tens of thousands of web users searched Google and YouTube for phrases like “awkward stage hair,” and “how to tie your hair for men,” they found The Longhairs.

So it wasn’t shocking to us that from the time we launched Hair Ties For Guys™, we made at least one sale every day. The volume was far from overwhelming—we sold between $1K - $2K per month—but within that first year we fulfilled orders to all 50 states in the US and 50 countries around the world.

We had successfully gone from an idea, to a brand, to a product, to a revenue-generating business; but we were still a long way from going full time.

Hair ties for guys

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

The story of The Longhairs is content, the foundation of our brand.

Publishing a blog post every week has established The Longhairs as the go-to source for information and products for men with long hair, but more importantly it has galvanized a community, best characterized by over 42K comments on our blog.

Essentially we have three categories of content, which align with our brand mission:

‘Advocate’ posts address topics like little boys getting bullied for having long hair, identifying common longhair problems for men, and The Longhairs Professional Series, where we interview successful professional men with flow on our podcast.

‘Educate’ posts consist of tips and tutorials like How To Tie A Fishtail Braid For Men, A Men's Guide to Split Ends, and How to Tie a “Man Bun” (Without Calling It That).

‘Celebrate’ posts include fan favorites like Hair Whip Wednesday, Respect The Combover, and 110 Heads of Lettuce, where we published user-submitted photos from longhairs around the world.

Finally, if you’re wondering what our all-time smash-hit grand slam blog post is...do a quick google search for “awkward stage hair.” The article you find consistently generates over 15K unique website visitors per month—an early post when we knew almost nothing about SEO.

Our secret then is not in the formula ; it’s in the execution, the result of showing up every single week, continuously refining, improving, tweaking, and re-doing it all over again until it works.

Building from our content we’ve established several effective tactics.

First is our referral cards. We created them to start distributing ourselves, but family and friends said they wanted to hand them out as well. We wrote blog posts about the experience of handing them out, allowed users to order a free pack from our website, and started including a pack with every order.

the-longhairs-growing-to-30-000-per-month-selling-hair-ties-for-men

The cards create an organic, hand-to-hand introduction to The Longhairs while garnering a positive reaction over 95% of the time, from guys of all different age, race, occupation and appearance. They’ve unexpectedly revealed the transcendent nature of long hair, and with tens of thousands in circulation they’ve expanded brand awareness around the world.

Second is our free content optin. We implore men with manes that you don’t have to be a hair expert, but there are a few things every guy with long hair needs to know. We offer that info with Quick Tips: a collection of basic hair knowledge from brushing, washing, growing, caring and more. This free, high-value content has generated over 5K email subscriptions.

Quick Tips

Referral cards and Quick Tips are two examples of our core strategy centered around email optins. When someone subscribes they are entered into an email flow, where they are welcomed to the community, introduced to our content and provided with a first-timer coupon. We even reveal our secret handshake.

We’ve also continuously refined our advertising tactics to support the email strategy. Unlike traditional advertising which is often focused on BUY! BUY! BUY!, we have the advantage of promoting free, valuable content, delivering far better results in terms of engagement and click-through rate.

Finally, our appearance on Shark Tank, where we landed a deal with billionaire investor Mark Cuban, gave us the boost of our business lives. Our Shark Tank story is thoroughly documented from open casting to recap and reflection, though it’s worth mentioning here: going on Shark Tank is not the end-all, be-all. It took years of work and dedication just to appear on that show, and securing investment doesn’t mean “we made it.” All it means is we earned an opportunity to prove ourselves—and we have to continue earning it.

At the end of the day it’s not rocket surgery: drive targeted traffic to a free content optin, triggering an automated email flow to nurture leads and convert subscribers into customers.

Our secret then is not in the formula; it’s in the execution, the result of showing up every single week, continuously refining, improving, tweaking, and re-doing it all over again until it works.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today The Longhairs are focused on the long game. We’ll continue the execution of our digital strategy: creating original, quality content, building our community, driving email optins and converting subscribers into customers, with emphasis on improving the performance of these key metrics:

  • Conversion rate of optins
  • Conversion rate of email flows
  • Cost of advertising

Product development will play an important role, with improvements to our design, new collections and different styles of hair ties, head wraps and headbands in the immediate future. We’re also expanding our line of hair care products and accessories going into 2019.

Finally, our biggest and most audacious initiative is The Great Cut: on March 16, 2019, with our charity partners at Children With Hair Loss, we will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest hair donation the history.

Great Cut Logo

Our goals are 2,000 men, women and children donating 200 lbs of hair, while raising $20K for Children With Hair Loss, all part of a hair-whipping, karate-kicking, record-breaking charity event.

The desired outcome is nothing short of a cultural shift in the perception of men and boys with long hair. After we shatter the world record under the national spotlight, every man who’s ever wanted to grow his hair out will have a valid and selfless reason to go for it.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

In our experience with starting The Longhairs, the most important thing we’ve learned is showing up, doing the work and figuring it out. No one is going to do it for us.

The secret is to create. Create your idea, your brand, your message, your purpose, your website, your content, your product, your templates and business processes and whatever else you need to create after that.

Of course we wanted to jump ship from the agency and pursue The Longhairs from the moment we had the idea. We had to keep grinding for almost four years before we could sustain ourselves.

Finally, the most important advantage we’ve had is running a digital agency before starting our business. Having those skills has allowed us to do the work ourselves, which would cost a heck of a lot more if we had to pay someone else to do it.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use dozens of tools and platforms, but here are a few:

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Two resources have been particularly useful. The first is Copyblogger, where we learned a great deal about content, strategy and copywriting. Their free and paid education tracks laid the foundation for our digital marketing expertise.

The second is $10K Bootcamp, a 10-week intensive sales training program for web professionals, where we went from selling $3K websites to $40K digital web projects. We credit Brent Weaver’s transformative $10K Bootcamp program with becoming a pro agency—which paved the way for The Longhairs.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

There are lots of ways to get there, but none of them will be easy. There is no magic formula. There is no silver bullet. There is no get rich quick, or overnight success, or 7-minute abs.

The secret is to create. Create your idea, your brand, your message, your purpose, your website, your content, your product, your templates and business processes and whatever else you need to create after that.

To start is to create.

Where can we go to learn more?

Website: thelonghairs.us

The Great Cut: thegreatcut.us

Instagram: @thelonghairs

Facebook: facebook.com/thelonghairs

YouTube: youtube.com/thelonghairs

Twitter: twitter.com/yolonghairs

Podcast: Let It Ride by The Longhairs on iTunes and Google Play

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