Please take a moment to introduce yourself. Who are you and where are you based?
My name is Benjamin Miller and I am the owner, operator and creator of Anchors Aweigh Hair Co. I have pretty much always been a one-man show and have done everything besides some of the design work by myself.
On occasions, I will hire a friend to label some jars or have my mom come in for a few hours and help label, screw lids and shrink band. She will send out packages when I go on trips as well, so if something is messed up, it is probably her fault!! Haha, jk.
My mom is one of the hardest workers that I know and it’s pretty awesome because she will usually work for a free, then buy me lunch after haha.
Last year I had a pal running my social media for a few months, but he started barber school and we felt like it would be best if he focused on that. I miss the crap out of him, but wish him all the best!
I’m currently in the process of handing over my social media accounts to an insanely talented sales girl who has some awesome ideas and an incredible vision for where she wants to take things. It’s crazy, she has already taken so much off my plate and hasn’t officially started yet. I’m so pumped to get her in there so she can really sink her teeth into the brand!!
So if you’re not following Anchors Aweigh @anchorshairco on Instagram or Facebook, please do so!!
How and when did you get started brewing your own products?
Starting a product company had been a vision of mine since attending the TONI & GUY Hairdressing Academy in Dallas, TX back in 2008. I didn’t get a fire in my butt until my son was born!
I started learning how to make product back in the fall of 2012. I had been a hair stylist for a couple of years and didn’t really like the products that were out(or their prices.) I also thought there was a need for a purpose-driven company that would put money and products back into the community.
In 2013 I attended the Premiere Chicago Hair Show and gave a few samples out to some platform artists and to my surprise, a few of the artists contacted me and loved the stuff! The jars had like paper labels that were taped on with my info haha. One platform artist, in particular, Mikey Kay really motivated me to start selling the products.
What’s behind the name?
There were a lot of factors in naming the company Anchors Aweigh Hair Co.
Originally, the name was just Anchors Hair Company, but after some thought, I decided to change it.
My family moved around about every 6 months until I was 14 and that carried that into my adult life. I finally settled back to Knoxville, TN in 2011 but I think my love for moving transferred into taking bigger risks in business.
The term “Anchors Aweigh” means the world to me and I truly don’t believe I’d be where I am today without taking risks, learning to adapt and living with an Anchors Aweigh mindset.
I could’ve named the products “Benajmin David” or some clever name for my family, but these products aren’t about me. They’re about the user and the user’s journey through life.
If you had to choose one of your favorite products, what would you say it is and why?
In High School, all I used was Murray’s. I think I still have the same can from like 20 years ago haha.
Honestly, I was never a huge fan of a lot of the “barbering” products that came out several years ago. I think a lot of them are very one dimensional and don’t offer a lot of pliability, which lets the user achieve different styles. I can name like 10 products off the top of my head that have the same exact formula with different scents!! I do think a lot of them have evolved into creating better and more well-rounded formulas, so I’m not too hard on them anymore.
My favorite products in the past have been SUMOTECH by Bumble and Bumble and SHAPER by J Bev Hills. I feel like you can get so many different looks with those and their very unique products.
If you had any advice for budding home brewers who are interested in making their own products what would it be?
Just go for it! Do it! It’s a ton of fun creating a product that can make someone feel beautiful or handsome. It’s a very special purpose and a powerful thing. It’s a messy job and definitely stressful, but equally as incredible.
I feel like I’m always learning and always adapting. I would’ve never dreamed that the Anchors Aweigh products would be used by celebrities and featured in magazines like Men’s Health. They’ve been Amazon’s choice before and I just partnered with one of the biggest salon groups in the world! Trust me. If I can do it, you can do it.
I’m dyslexic and barely passed high school. I grew up overweight and have always had confidence issues. I know that I’m not the smartest cookie in the jar, but I work my butt off and I always try to learn from my mistakes. So work hard and stick with it!
Another big thing that has helped me is: embrace your critics.
If not answered above, what are some of the challenges of being an independent brewer that the average consumer may not be aware of?
I’m a single dad and work by myself. By the grace of God, I managed to ship out around 50,000 products last year by myself. I don’t get many breaks and when I do, vacations are always like 1-2 days long. I get most of my work done when my son is at school, when he’s at his mom’s or after he goes to bed until late at night. But that’s normal. All of the independent brewers I know don’t stop working. We don’t freakin sleep!!
In November of 2017 I dropped a pot of boiling wax on myself and got 3rd degree burns all over the crease of my foot, but had a huge Amazon order for the holidays and was right back at the shop at 6am hobbling around getting things done haha.
Those are the things that go on that most people don’t realize, but I love what I do and I don’t ever complain. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else and all of the challenges just make the job more fun and rewarding! Now that things are getting really intense, I’m fortunate enough to have people in my life that are wanting to take things off my plate and help with things like social media and answering emails.
How important is packaging/labeling?
To me, the packaging is your voice and has to speak your language. There is never going to be a “best” jar label. That’s all up to interpretation. What Joe may like, John may not and vice versa.
Just make sure your labels are cohesive with the tone that you use in your marketing. Make sure it fits your story and can basically speak for you without speaking at all.
That being said, packaging doesn’t mean a thing if your product is crap!
Be sure to check out all of the Anchors Aweigh Hair Co products on our site here.