A couple of days ago, on these blog pages, I invited new, old and potential customers to drop into the Amazon Launchpad pop-up event in London – that article is> HERE <. I was blown away to see so many of you take me up on that. I must admit, the first time it happened, I was completely wrong-footed...
Not long after we opened, I was waiting for my coffee to kick in whilst staring blankly down the aisles, when from a distance, a woman came rushing towards me, waving frantically and smiling. I wondered what dear old friend she was meeting and was somewhat surprised when it turned out to be me. I'm British, reserved, shy and used to indifference, so this all came as quite a shock.
"I brought you a hairy man!" she exclaimed with vim and gusto. I assumed she was looking at someone behind me, because I didn't remember ordering a hairy man.
But she'd read my Instagram post inviting people to drop in and say hello, and not only had she taken me up on it, she'd dragged her hirsute husband along to boot – and the bonus was, he was happy to come. I knew I could talk for hours about the ingredients in the perfect Beard Balm, but I had no idea that anyone would want to listen to it. Marvellous.
I have to admit, this was something of a revelation. And it didn't stop there.
I was overjoyed to find that, from turning up to what appeared to be a straightforward sales event, I was having thoughtful, meaningful and absorbing conversations with people from all walks of life, about all sorts of issues. I imagined I'd be repeating myself and delivering largely the same advice on skin, hair and beard care. But there wasn't actually too much of that. I was humbled to hear deeply touching and personal stories from people who made a bigger impression on me than they could imagine.
I also met a delightful woman called Flori who runs an excellent, motivational podcast called 'Gloriously Good', who has extended an invitation to chat on her show soon, which I very much hope comes to fruition in the coming months.
I was especially surprised at all of this because quite a few respected peers and mentors advised me, quite understandably, that in an age of faceless e-commerce and online transactions, it simply isn’t an efficient use of time to meet customers one-by-one. It's old fashioned, but then so am I.
I can see their point and even agree with it - from a clinical and pragmatic point of view. But after this week, I wouldn’t have it any other way, and am chomping at the bit to do more of it.
After all, Gnarly Joe® is a personal brand, a journey and a mission. To me, it’s a lot more than a business. So I’ll happily keep doing it the old fashioned way, person by person, brick by brick.
A huge thanks once again to those kind souls who came down to chat, (including an old and valued friend from school that I hadn't seen in many years, who I managed to go for a drink with; lovely to see you Paul).
I look forward to more conversations and interactions as the days and months roll by... and yes, maybe some chat about skin, hair and beard care too.