HairMeet the Man Behind Amazon's Best-Selling Grooming Tool
Joshua Esnard was just 13-years-old when he came up with the idea for The Cut Buddy; a plastic template that makes it easier to keep your haircut fresh in between barbershop visits. Fifteen-odd years later, in 2016, while Esnard was studying finance at Florida State University, he finally brought his idea to market—and it blew up. The product started to gain traction in February when a YouTuber called 360 Wave Process posted a tutorial using the product. Since then Esnard has sold over 30,000 units and is a “#1 Best-Seller” on Amazon in the U.S. and Canada.
We caught up with the St. Lucia-born, New York-raised entrepreneur to find out how this $15 piece of plastic is changing his life—and helping guys everywhere keep their line-up and beards looking sharp. (Leonard DiCaprio, you’re officially out of excuses.)
GQ: How did you come up with the idea for this product?
Joshua Esnard: From a young age I was breaking open electronics or finding items in recycling areas to create my own little inventions or toys. I was around the age of 13 when I picked up my dad’s 20-year-old Conway clippers and began to cut my own hair. I started cutting my own hair because there was only one barber in Ithaca, where I grew up, and he was very far away from me. Since I couldn’t drive and my parents were teaching at Cornell University all day, I had to come up with my own solution.
As I’m sure you can imagine, cutting my own hair didn’t go well at first. I’d often end up with bald spots and uneven lines. This is when I went back to my roots of building Batman mobiles out of milk cartons. I used cardboard and plastic from my dad’s supplies and came up with a few simple stencils to help me guide the clippers in cutting my own hair.
When and how did you finally get it off the ground?
This is a funny story. I had the idea to sell my design for a few years before finally making it a reality. Two years ago in 2014, I was moving a treadmill into the garage with my girlfriend and it was too large to fit through the door. We had to remove the door off the hinges to move the treadmill in. When we were done, I was too lazy to put the door back up. I left it for another day. My girlfriend said: “You never finish what you start.” I’ll never forget that line. I immediately put the door back up on the hinges and the next day I finally brought The Cut Buddy design to a patent attorney.
Tell us about the process of developing The Cut Buddy.
The product technically went through 15 years of unintentional development from the time I was 13 until I was 28 years old. During these years, I was able to test the product on myself every week, along with my uncle Eric, my younger brother, and all of my college friends. This whole time I was putting sweat equity into research and development, I never even knew I would one day sell tens of thousands of them.
My engineer, PulseRay Inc., designs parts for the Air Force and NASA. When I brought the product design to them they were able to sit me down and do stress tests on my product and provide me with angles, which averaged all the curves I was using. We eventually arrived at our design, which has three large curves to fit a variety of head sizes for haircuts and beard grooming.
Why did you think it was needed in the marketplace?
The best solutions are often the simplest. Imagine you live in developing country without many barbers, or you don't have a car and you have a job interview to prepare for, or you’re a college student with limited funds that just wants a line-up or edge-up on their haircut or beard. Doesn’t that sound familiar to almost anyone? It probably does because it describes my life story and millions of others.
Beyond that market, single mothers, military personnel overseas, and the disabled are all people who want a nice hairline or beard for themselves or for someone else (i.e. a child) but normally have trouble getting to a barber or just don’t have the money to go as often as they would like. People just want to look good and they feel confident when they look good; we created a product that lets people feel confident every day.
What lining or grooming mistakes do you often see guys make? What makes you cringe?
The main one that makes me cringe is seeing people with their hairline pushed back! I always hate seeing that and I can personally attest that I have done this many times to myself in those early development years of the product!
What happened when you became a #1 best-seller on Amazon?
We sold thousands of units just THIRTY minutes after going viral thanks to videos by 360 Wave Process and Nick Wavy and immediately ran out of inventory. Our back orders sold out too and we had to take those down. PayPal actually thought I was money laundering and froze my account since there was such a ridiculous amount of money showing up in my account so quickly.
What are your goals for the company in the future?
I want to make this a standard tool in barber and salon schools, to sell to other larger retailers, and also get The Cut Buddy in every new clipper package for companies like Andis, Wahl, or Remington (like how you get guards, scissors, and lubricant). Given that our product services haircuts and beards we feel like we have a world of options ahead of us and just need to do our best to make the smartest decisions we can.