Robert Vinyes, CEO and Founder of Homo Naturals, the first of its kind, 100% natural, organic skincare brand geared specifically toward men, joined Professor Jaime Romeu’s Luxury Sector Analysis class on Monday evening February 20th.
Professor Romeu is a GBSB Global faculty member in the Master in Fashion & Luxury Business Management program and has three additional engagements scheduled this term focused on providing students with the opportunity to learn from industry professionals, gaining applicable, real-life knowledge, first hand.
How Did Homo Naturals Come to Market?
During his early thirties, Mr. Vinyes explained he hit "burnout". He was a successful director at a multi-national, working longs hours, 9 am to midnight, most nights of the week. He was living one day to the next, watching week after week go by. Juggling demands and daily stress, his health slowly deteriorated to the point where he started to notice breakouts, blemishes, and dry, flaking skin. He went to his doctor to see what the ailment was, and that is when he discovered this word "burnout" was actually a medical issue. Not to be taken lightly, he was physically and mentally exhausted, and if he continued down this career path, there would be no end to his distress.
Quitting his job, Mr. Vinyes took time to recover. During this period, he sought out remedies to cure his skin condition, trying everything from super market shelves to pharmaceutical brands. Many of the products only provided temporary relief, hydrating his skin in the moment, but ultimately leaving his skin out of balance. During this period of trial and error, trying to find a product that worked he discovered most of the conventional, cosmetic store products were made with petroleum derived oil (paraffins and vaselins) and other chemicals. The use of these products did not make his skin particularly better, but what he noticed, was his skin became reliant upon the use of the product.
This was the basis for Vinyes’ initial research. It was his own personal experience that led him to have this moment of vision that gave him his future business idea. Not knowing what direction life would ultimately go, this experience moved him to study dermatology, aromatherapy, skincare formation, and organic natural skincare in Barcelona and in London.
Collaborating with industry professionals, chemists, and pharmacists, Mr. Vinyes started to test recipes and formulate products that would define his skincare line.
This period ran parallel with his market research. Mr. Vinyes was constantly talking with family and friends about his products, gaging their interest and purchase probability. As any business owner can attest, it is one thing to describe an idea or concept, it is another to sell the product.
His vision was very clear. Women’s organics had a strong hold in the market, and there were very few men’s products that offered anything of comparable quality. Yes, there are brands like Bulldog (United Kingdom) and Weleda (Germany) among others that "claim" to be natural, but there is no governing body monitoring this word, guaranteeing the facts written on the ingredient label.
When asked if he sat down to write a formal business plan or not, Mr. Vinyes replied it was something that evolved over time. Today, more than generations past, there is a constant debate whether identifying the business trajectory is necessary, or even, at least, least to write it down on a formal document. William Bygrave, a professor emeritus at Babson College and longtime entrepreneur reported in 2006 that he and his colleagues could not find major difference from entrepreneurs that began their businesses with formal plans versus those that did not. There was no disparity between their success.
That is not to say Mr. Vinyes did not have a primary and secondary target market identified and keys to communication and sales strategies identified. Like many startups, Vinyes rolled with the punches, learning from setbacks, and adapting his business model along the way.
When asked if there are specific personality traits he would identify with in regards to his business success, Vinyes made a very important point. Not all individuals are born with that fifth business sense. Typically, individuals excel at certain aspects of business, say marketing or finance. Mr. Vinyes proceeded to explain, it is okay to be strong in one aspect of business, but you either have to be a fast learner, identifying areas where you need improvement, or hire individuals that can help fill in where there are gaps.
What words of advice did Mr. Vinyes have for the Master in Fashion & Luxury Business Management students?
When you have a vision, do your due diligence. Research is necessary, but at some point, you will have to just take the product to market. Acknowledge the competition, but realize even if they are setting trends, you too can also pave the way in your specified industry. Have patience and more importantly perseverance. From the initial stages of starting a company, whether that be a cosmetics brand, IT application or luxury service, there will be challenges and pitfalls. You will not see returns hit your balance sheet right away, and it is normal. Don’t give up.
GBSB Global Business School Barcelona’s Master in Fashion & Luxury Business Management program seeks to foster students into managers, capable of comprehending the rules of fashion and luxury goods industry and using their talents to launch successful careers that leave a mark. The fashion and luxury industry is multifaceted, global, and extremely competitive. It therefore requires graduates who can react efficiently to the perpetually changing dynamics by outlining new strategies and creating unparalleled vision to guarantee market success. The fashion and luxury industry in Europe and around the globe are endlessly looking for people able to match innovative spirit with the tenacity to manage teams and events.