WE’VE all dreamt of giving-up the grind of the nine-to-five and becoming our own boss.
But for Steve Sanger the dream is a reality after swapping the office for his kitchen, where he runs his male grooming business, the Beard and Wonderful.
The 51-year-old from Maldon, Essex, set-up the business back in 2015, selling his handmade beard and moustache products online and over eBay, after spotting the explosion of men sporting facial hair.
Since then, it’s gone from strength to strength, with Steve able to finally jack-in his 30-year career in advertising just six months later.
The dad-of-four told the Sun Online: “I think everyone wants to work for themselves. I had various good jobs but it doesn’t matter how well you are doing – there’s always a boss above you telling you what to do.
“I’d noticed that beards were coming into fashion but there were no products for beard care, so I knew people would be interested, I just saw an opportunity.”
Steve and his wife and co-director Kelly spent just £150 on making their first batch of products in his kitchen – which are based on traditional recipes from the American Wild West – using ingredients like beeswax, and hemp and jojoba oil.
From that small beginning, the business last year reported a turnover of £200,000 and a tidy profit of £120,000, with Steve taking advantage of the low-costs of having a digital business.
“We started selling one or two items a week, then three or four a day and it just went from there,” he said.
“I’d set up a website and an eBay store and eBay was a massive driver in our sales – you get a really big audience, whereas with our website no-one was seeing it.
“We have thought about opening an actual shop but it would involve a whole load of other problems.
“We were lucky that we didn’t have any real overheads and we didn’t have to take any loans or help to start up – why borrow if you don’t need to?”
With Christmas just around the corner, Steve is currently busy sending out more than 150 orders a day from his house, exporting to places as far away as the United States and Australia.
And to cope with the ever increasing demand, he and Kelly have big plans for 2018.
“We’ve got three part-time staff on at the moment just to help out, but we are going to need to ramp up production next year, which means moving out of the kitchen into a proper facility somewhere.
“At the moment we are turning away business and we don’t want to do that.
“The costs of ingredients has gone up because of the pound but were now more attractive to customers abroad as it’s cheaper for them to buy. You’ve got to stay positive.”
Having taken the plunge – and made a success of it – what advice does Steve have for those dreaming of quitting the office and starting their own business?
“I would say you should definitely go for it but definitely don’t give up your job until you’ve spotted an opportunity and tested the market,” he said.
“Lots of people decide they want to run businesses and fall flat on their faces.
“It’s much better when you work for yourself and it’s a great working environment, you work a lot harder and a lot longer hours.
“And I got to see Kelly a lot more too which could have gone one or two ways!”