Under The Hood: Richie from Temple

Meeting Richie Dawes, co-founder of Temple: A skincare & wellness company targeting men of colour.

Meeting Richie Dawes, co-founder of Temple: A skincare & wellness company targeting men of colour.

Let’s start at the beginning: How did Temple start?

Temple started in similar but yet different ways for each of the three co-founders. We each had our own unique experience and journey to reaching that ‘aha’ moment when it became really clear that there was a gap in the market for personal care and grooming brands that specifically spoke to men of colour.

Unbeknownst to us, we were all simultaneously working on our own individual brands that all served men of colour but in different ways but all fell under the same umbrella of self-care and personal wellbeing.  Eventually, serendipitously we started speaking with each other. I spoke with Raph initially and then later Raph spoke with Adam and not long after that we decided we should band together, merge our creativity and skill sets and build what you know today as Temple.

How have you thought about prioritising your product lines?

Our priority is ensuring that men are looking after their bodies holistically, so we have launched two product ranges to look after your exterior as well as your interior. For the outer Temple, we offer a starter range of skincare products that helps any man build the foundations of an effective everyday skincare routine. It’s really quick and simple but it’s effective and it;s made with only natural ingredients. You have three core products; a daily cleanser, a toner and a moisturiser. These are the basics any man needs to get started and be on his journey towards healthier maintained skin. 

Now for the inner Temple, and arguably the most important part we created a 30 day supplements programme. Each day for 30 days, you take 5 capsules or pills, all pre-packed as daily doses in a singular daily pack to make it easier for you. These supplements aid with improved sleep, reduced stress, healthy maintenance of bones and muscles and a boosted immune system. This includes Ashwagandha, Biotin, Omega 3 Fish Oils, Zinc & Magnesium and Vitamin D. 

We called the brand Temple because your body, your whole body is your Temple and we’re committed to giving you products that help you improve and maintain it.

How have you managed to develop two very different products? The supplements and skin care products?

Before we launched, we spent a lot of time speaking with experts to understand the unique needs of men of colour when it came to general healthcare, nutrition and skincare. It’s important to us that we use the best natural ingredients, that are science backed and researched with proven results. We knew very early on that we wanted to help men with their overall health, not just one singular area - so we knew right from the start we would need to have experts involved in developing our products. 

Were you able to commit to a smaller run? Did you run into issues with MOQs? 

Minimum order quantities can definitely be one of the barriers to entry in this space, especially if you’re a new self-funded brand like we are. After ensuring they met our quality requirements and believed in our brand vision and values, low MOQs was one of the key deciding factors of the manufacturer that we decided to approach with our formulations. Fortunately, we found a UK based manufacturer that took a liking to us, really believed in what we do and we were able to negotiate a smaller MOQ run for our initial batch of products to take to market. 

How did you think about pre-launch vs. official launch?

Our pre-launch stage was really about learning about what men of colour wanted to see and get from Temple. Our pre-launch activity consisted of receiving user feedback on our product samples, building our email subscription list and on brand and brand strategy across our target channels.

Our official launch happened as soon as we received our first batch of products that contained our final formulation, had signed off our branding and packaging and opened up our website to be transactional.

What about the website? Was that a lot of work? 

We developed our website in-house over a number of weeks in the run to our launch. We’re lucky to have a designer on the team so our branding digital assets and brand guidelines were ready to stress-test during website development. We opted to use Shopify as our e-commerce platform and purchased a custom product so that we tailor the digital experience. 

In terms of timing between the email list, the pre-order and the launch - How did you structure that sequence?

We approached it all in a way that was thought out but also allowed the room to be really organic too. We listened to podcasts, read articles and generally just studied how other brands launched. There was a lot of learning along the way. We did a lot of analysis on what’s already out there to understand what we should put into practice and what we can maybe do differently. We set and tracked weekly metrics and KPIs which helped guide us through the pre-launch website page to our final transaction website. 

And as of today - What are the best acquisition strategies?

For our brand we have found that we get the best engagement through our socials (Facebook and Instagram), and have spent more energy in talking to our existing customers and target marketing to new customers. As we are providing a skincare range for a market that has predominantly been underserved, it's key that we build a strong community base through educational and captive content.  We stay close to this community by listening to their feedback, engaging with them on our social platforms and sometimes we’ll pick up the phone and call some of our customers too (with the prior consent of course) . We recently launched a Brand Ambassador programme too, so we’re currently testing how effective that is for us too to grow our influencer marketing strategies and double down on social media engagement.

So tell me about the bigger content strategy: Do you have a newsletter, a blog? 

At the moment we do have a blog and we’re sending out the occasional email newsletter - both of which are currently undergoing a marketing strategy refresher exercise. Since we launched we have collected a large amount of data and customer feedback and we have a better understanding of what our audience wants us to do more of. 

Let’s talk about  the business as a whole and what performance looks like. Are there any milestones that you're setting for yourselves? 

As a team we set quarterly OKR’s, and that helps guide the activities we focus on and commitments we make to certain areas of the business. We’re very focused on building organic brand awareness at the moment. It’s hugely important for us to not become dependent on paid search and ads, it’s not to say we’ll never do it but we  want to really experiment with as many different ways of reaching our audience before making the investment in ads spend.  Then on the website - we're forever optimizing. We’re always looking for ways to improve our conversion rates, average order value and customer return rates. 

Are there any tools that you would recommend to look at that information? 

We actively look at Google Analytics - conversion goals, LTV, CAC, all traffic channels, HotJar - heatmaps & impression points, and Shopify Analytics - the usual unit economics; revenue, sales by channel, AOV etc. 

And in terms of financing - Are you, are you more of a high growth, VC backed type of a business? Or do you see yourself as more of a “camel”: Slow & steady growth, focusing on profitability?

We’re definitely focused on ensuring we build a healthy business with solid fundamentals that will stand the test of time, so by default we have to be focused on profitability. That doesn’t however mean we’re taking the slow lane, we’ve been fortunate enough to have a really positive response and we’ve come out the gate strong since launching. For now we’re focused heavily on optimising our unit economics and building a differentiated product that clearly speaks to our target audience to build a profitable business.

Awesome. Thanks again for the wisdom. I'm glad we met!