More shops and more beards are enjoying the all-natural grooming goodness of Cliff Original, and soon many guests of Columbus will as well.
The three-year-old grooming products company landed a deal with the under renovation Hotel LeVeque to provide toiletries for the 149 rooms of the boutique concept. The deal nearly doubles the 60 percent growth the company has already seen from 2015 to 2016.
Jared Friesner started the “farm-to-grooming” company in October of 2013 to pay homage to his late grandpa, Cliff. Beards were the focus at the beginning with products like beard oil and beard wax, as well as face wash bricks and hair wax.
As the company grows, Cliff Original is expanding its line into skincare and shaving, adding three new products – a face moisturizer, shave butter and charcoal detox soap – in 2016 alone.
Each new product begins with the same approach – finding all-natural ingredients that will get the job done. Friesner tries to source as many local ingredients as possible. There’s beeswax from Canal Winchester and a goat farmer in Lancaster that gives a quite literal meaning to farm-to-grooming, milking her goats every morning and putting the milk directly into Cliff Original’s soaps.
Some products are hard to come by locally, but for Friesner the focus remains on all-natural and, “Trying to to find like-minded businesses that care as much about their ingredients as we do,” he says.
The product development process always includes some trial and error, but Cliff Original is also finding ways to incorporate its customers into the mix. A group of 50 are responsible for the final iteration of the new shave butter.
“We sent them the product to try it then we followed up with a survey,” Friesner says.
Cliff original used that feedback to shape the final product, sending it, along with a t-shirt, to its testers for participating. That customer engagement is a strategy the brand hopes to continue.
Cliff Original’s next round of products is on an expedited timeline thanks to the contract with the Hotel LeVeque. Shampoo and conditioner were a 2017 project that has turned into a by the end of the year project.
The haircare products are just two in suite of Cliff Original originals for the hotel. The brand will also provide a body exfoliating bar, face soap, moisturizer and lip balm.
Cliff Original has teamed up with other local businesses to create the LeVeque set. The exfoliating bar makes use of recycled orange peels from local juicer Samba Fresh. The peels are dehydrated and made into powder, providing exfoliation.
With Cliff Original’s products generally geared towards men, a bergamot and lavender scent will appeal to all noses.
“We worked with Hotel LeVeque and Candle Lab to put together that scent,” Friesner says.
A series of connections put the local company in front of the hotel chain. Cliff Original had been developing a relationship with Experience Columbus, which connected Friesner with their PR representative Amy Weirick from Weirick Communications for another opportunity to highlight the brand. Then at Weirick’s suggestion, Hotel LeVeque looked at Cliff Original to bring a local spin to their toiletries.
It’s not the only way Experience Columbus has been instrumental in the growth of the brand, Friesner says.
Cliff Original soaps are in the Experience Columbus gift shop and a part of a local grooming products box the organization has put together. Friesner says the group’s confidence in his brand to refer them for something like a recent National Geographic article about ‘Why All the Cool Kids Love Columbus, OH’ has meant a lot.
Friesner also decided to make the investment and join Experience Columbus because he saw the value the organization provided its members though things like networking events. One in particular even provided the connection to get Cliff Original into the Whole Foods in Pittsburgh.
“We’re starting to get a lot of customers and retail partners scattered throughout the country,” Friesner says.
Finding ore retail partners is on the docket for the coming year, including shelf space at every Whole Foods and other natural foods markets.
As the brand grows, Friesner hopes to take operations spread across commercial kitchens and an office in Grandview and put everything under one roof with their own production facility.
For more information, visit clifforiginal.com.
— Experience Columbus’ vision is to be the leading force in creating and revealing the best of the Columbus experience to the world. Experience Columbus’ mission is to sell, market and promote the Destination Columbus experience to visitors. —