Though it may be hard to believe, the COVID-19 pandemic was terrific for some industries. Companies that provided at-home work solutions like Zoom saw outrageous growth. Medical production went through the roof.
Left by the wayside, though, were personal care and grooming for many people. With schools and offices closed, morning face- and hair-care routines were no longer a priority.
American Provenance, an all-natural hygiene company, was not the least among these companies that saw a significant dip in their revenue throughout the pandemic. The company had seen 100 percent growth year-to-year since its founding in 2015, but its sales took a hit.
In 2020, sales dropped by 15 percent. In 2021, they dropped by another 10 percent. It was time for American Provenance to make a change to stay on their upwards trending pace. And make a change they did. Kyle LaFond, the founder of American Provenance, put all of his cards on the table by cutting off all online advertising and leaning into e-commerce via Amazon.
Keep reading for more about the decision to go “all-in” on Amazon …
And whether it’s panned out.
Where Did American Provenance Come From?
Kyle LaFond was a career middle school science teacher who was never warned during his training just how bad his students would smell. Between sports equipment, lunchboxes that had been left sitting out for who knows how long, and the overwhelming pre-teen body odor, LaFond had plenty of experience with stink up close and personal.
As a teacher, LaFond noticed that his students gravitated towards name-brand, chemical-rife body sprays for their personal hygiene. Unfortunately, the best-marketed, most popular hygiene products are often full of harmful chemicals that he felt still-developing children should be nowhere near, let alone applying daily.
LaFond decided to help his students out by assigning a project where they could get their hands dirty and also gain in-depth knowledge of the topic: formulating their own personal care products (safely, of course).
Over several years, LaFond and his students created dozens of different deodorant formulations, some better than others. Over 30 different combinations and years later, he landed on one he really liked.
He and a few friends and family members gave it a whirl, and the feedback was incredibly positive. What started as a passion project to help his students learn about the harmful chemicals in body care products had become a high-quality, less harmful deodorant …
And everyone loved it.
American Provenance Hits the Market
“Everyone thought that I was onto something and encouraged me to start a small business,” LaFond said in an interview with Starter Story. “I quit my job, recruited some of my most intelligent and talented friends, and started putting the pieces together. We launched in May of 2015 and never looked back.”
It’s a good thing they never looked back. Their first website launched in May 2015 after tweaks were made on tweaks for everything to turn out perfectly, and sales began to climb immediately.
Now, a seven-year-old American Provenance exists to provide high-quality skincare and grooming items for men at reasonable prices. With products ranging from body wash to beard balm in several scent profiles, they’ve successfully built out a men’s self-care company that includes all while prioritizing healthy products.
Their products are all made by hand, just as the original middle school science projects were. Though the products are not still all made on Kyle LaFond’s fourth-generation family farm, they’re produced in a new facility near to it, keeping the heritage alive.
The Move to Amazon
As mentioned before, the pandemic hit the grooming industry hard, and American Provenance felt it. When men were encouraged not to go out and socialize or commute to an office, they weren’t incentivized to go through their daily self-care routines.
American Provenance noticed this downward trend throughout 2020 and 2021, and decided it was time to take a significant step towards profitability. They had already been selling directly via there website as well as on shelves throughout the country, but there was one domino left to fall.
American Provenance has since gone “all-in” on Amazon, and Amazon is a pretty large domino.
As part of the decision to favor Amazon sales, American Provenance completely cut out their online advertising. By paying close attention to its success or lack thereof, they recognized that the newest iOS was making their digital advertising less effective.
Amazon sales have grown tremendously — 10 to 15 percent per month since the June move — and the company saves $150,000 per quarter by cutting out digital advertising.
It’s safe to say that the move to Amazon was a good one.
As part of the move to Amazon, American Provenance has also cut unnecessary PR contracts and campaigns that were money being spent for no good reason. For a relatively young company that is still searching for its first year in the black, cost-cutting while also bringing in more revenue via Amazon is a one way ticket to success.
It may seem like there are success stories everywhere of companies that take to Amazon and sell well, but there’s always more to the story. The story of American Provenance and Kyle LaFond is one of authentic hard work and a brand that cares about its customers, producers, and the world around it.