My Week: Simon Duffy of Bulldog

The men's grooming entrepreneur on the World Cup, launching in Sweden and topping the charts.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

My day normally starts early, around seven o’clock, when I read emails under the duvet. I go through our central Bulldog account to see if there’s anything I need to respond to: we like to reply to any feedback pretty much straight away.

My early morning email antics kill my wife Annabel. She’s expecting our first child at the moment – it’s due in early July. We’ve moved house in anticipation, and spent a lot of time making it nice for the new arrival. I’ve even been putting myself through all those parenting classes which fathers dread – but I actually quite like them. It’s something I didn’t really know much about, so it’s cool for me to get more of an idea before I actually start. Plus, we’ve made some new friends who are going through the same thing, which is nice. We don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl, though. I wanted to know, but we discussed it and decided that Annabel was right, and that it would be a nice surprise…

I walk to work from our house in Queen’s Park with my dog Bruno. The office is only 10 minutes away, but Bruno is small so it takes a bit longer with him. He’s in the office with us most days – he just hangs out with me, and it’s nice to have an excuse to get some fresh air. Once everyone has arrived at the office at about 9.30, every day is slightly different: my co-founder, Rhodri, takes care of supply chain logistics and finance, and my main tasks are sales, marketing, and new product development. That means one day I could be visiting essential oil mixers down in Surrey, the next day I’ll be at the Waitrose head office.

This week, I spent a couple of days in Sweden, where we launched in February, meeting up with our distribution partners. We’re in two of Sweden’s best health and beauty retailers, and they’re doing an amazing job. We chose Sweden for a few reasons: firstly, it’s close, which means we can be really hands-on, and we can get there and back in a day if we have to. They were also crying out for natural products there – lots of people had been in touch who were interested in the brand. More importantly, though, we just absolutely love the place. Stockholm is such a cool city, so it’s a good excuse to get over there. We’ve got big plans, though: we want to grow from 300 stores to about 1,000 in the first three years.

Back in London, we had a production meeting for David Mitchell’s Soapbox, an online video series with the comedian sponsored by Bulldog. It’s going really well – we’re absolutely smashing the targets we set ourselves – it hit number one in the iTunes charts. We’re planning to do the world’s first 3D podcast – we’re going to do a big promotion on our website, giving away 3D glasses. So we spent Thursday talking about how we’re going to make David 3D. It’s going to be an enormous amount of fun.

I’m also very focused on innovation. I spend a lot of time reviewing product samples that come in, both new fragrances and natural ingredients. From a marketing point of view, we’re very focused on making Soapbox a success, but there are other things we’ve been working on throughout the year that’s still under development. We’re in over 2,000 stores now in the UK – Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s, Waitrose, Boots, Planet Organic, Whole Foods Market and Ocado – so checking up on them takes up a good chunk of my time. As we become more international, I’ll be visiting places we’re launching, which will be really fun. It’s going to be an exciting three years – we’ll continue growth in the UK, and hopefully overtake Gillette in the skincare sector.

Finally, we’ve been talking about the football. The whole office has been getting ready for the world cup. We’ll be watching all the England games, and probably all the New Zealand games too – my wife’s from New Zealand, so they’re going to be our second team of choice in the office. We have a small team, and we get an enormous amount done between us, so it’s good to have a break. It’s hard work, but Bulldog is a very fulfilling and energising thing to be involved with.

- Simon Duffy is the co-founder of Bulldog Natural Grooming, a range of natural skincare products for men. http://www.meetthebulldog.com

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