Ever wondered how you could support ethical, sustainable businesses? Welcome to a regular series highlighting products, services and organizations that are ‘doing well by doing good’.
The Fifties had the pompadour. The Eighties had the Mullet. And now? We have the Man-bun. Object of derision or outre fashion statement? Whatever your take on it, there is one company that has decided to create some social good out of it. We caught up with Co-Founder Esteban Gast to talk about how he’s creating a movement out of Man-Buns.
*The following interview has been edited and condensed.
How would you describe what ManBun does in 3 sentences or less? ManBun is a social enterprise that sells hair ties for men that are handmade in the USA. We donate $1 of every $5 purchased to a rotating group of nonprofits focused on men’s health.
What was the inspiration for ManBun? My co-founder Kevin Cox had a man bun because man buns are beautiful. He had been using traditional hair ties but found them to be small on his wrists and didn’t feel like there was a hair tie that spoke to the man bun revolution that was currently taking place. After a few beers, it became clear to us that man buns were a movement and the movement needed it’s own hair ties. Also, Google Analytics showed that a ton of people were googling “man bun” and even “man bun hair ties.”
What is the deeper purpose that drives your work? So, admittedly, ManBun was a silly business experiment in social entrepreneurship that has been way more successful than we anticipated. We’ve had to transform into a viable and only somewhat-silly business that’s focused on delivering a good product and raising money.
What are you most proud of? I’m most proud of following through on our silly idea. A lot of people sit around and think of great business ideas. In fact, that’s usually what I’m doing and most join the others in the idea graveyard that is my mind. Yet, when Kevin and I thought of this sorta-great business idea, we threw ourselves into it and have been able to employ people and raise money for nonprofits we believe in. To bring an idea to life has to be one of the most difficult things to do, and I think celebrating that as much as the money we’ve raised is important.
How do you strive to differentiate yourself from your competitors? Perhaps the fact that we don’t really have competitors is a secret to our success. I’m not saying everyone should be so hyper specific that they are the only one in their niche, but it’s one way to ensure “being the best.”
What is the best feedback you get from your customers? Our customers are great! They vary from people buying ManBun Hair Ties as a gag gift to people who have man buns and had similar problems we were facing in terms of small hair ties. There’s a man named Allan in Australia who buys a set of hair ties every few months because he loves the product (and also is forgetful and loses this hair ties often).
What is your favorite story about ManBun since it was started? Our first day we launched we shot out a bunch of pictures on social media because we know that the interwebs is good for marketing. It was, of course, #manbunmonday and we ended up being featured on Huffington Post on Day 1. Also, recently we were featured on a feminist blog as an example of how masculinity has gone wrong. We’re huge feminists (really everyone should be) so it was an interesting conversation where we were talking to this blog trying to write a take-down piece but we were agreeing with them. It’s like if someone started making fun of you and you agree with them, it throws them off a little bit.
What difference do you strive to make in people’s lives? We donate $1 of the $5 hair ties to charity. We strive to make raising money and donating money as easy and as accessible as possible. I realize that what we do is a bit (ok…very) cheeky, but I think the concept behind making it easy and fun to donate money is important. Let’s have a little fun while we do good.
Where can people go to support ManBun? You can check us out atmenshairties.com and keep up to date on all the latest worldwide manbun news on our Facebook page.
What do you see in ManBun‘s future? We realize that man buns may be a trend. We know. We’re not happy about it either. We’re hoping to pivot to create a socially conscious men’s lifestyle brand focused on creating and selling high-quality handmade goods.