18 Apr “1 ON 1 with a former Tuskegee University student and the creator of Barbadeaux Shaving Products
“1 on 1 with former Tuskegee university student and the creator of BARBADEAUX, the new black owned after shave for people with curly hair follicles”
Who is Derek Lopez?
Truth be told, I’m just like anyone else. People seem to think becoming an entrepreneur is impossible to do, but anyone with the right drive in them can do it. I got tired of working for someone who I would never meet or who doesn’t really care about my well-being. I also got tired of living paycheck to paycheck, barely being able to pay bills, and having no freedom – I just got tired of it! So, I started speaking things into existence; I started to pray the same prayer every day. Then, I started researching, getting myself in the right conversations, and surrounding myself with positive people. I’ve never been the smartest guy in school; I was labeled as the slow kid. It was not until I gained admission into Tuskegee University that I realized the world was more than standardized tests. In college, I fell in love with researching things that interested me. TU showed me how to be a better me and to never give up on my dreams.
Nearly three years ago, I had an opportunity to leave my job at the bank to help work on a new business venture. It was with my mentor, actually; he told me that it would be risky, but may be worth it. He mentored me as a high school student, and you would never know the man was well off because he lived and still lives a modest lifestyle. A decent home, no flashy jewelry or technology, but the one thing he did splurge on was a Bentley that rarely left the garage. Kids in the neighborhood always wondered what the hell he did! I was walking around the neighborhood one day and saw him; so I just had to ask the question we all wanted to know, “What do you do?” He laughed a little said, “Well, a lot of different things, but I’m mostly a consultant.”
One day, he asked if I could help him out because he was swamped with customer orders. I was excited to learn what he did for a living. He showed me his laboratory and began to teach me different types of tests he would run for his customers. I was amazed that all these big-name brands and companies I was familiar with were using this man’s lab! I assisted him in doing microbial, metal, specific gravity, and pH testing for over-the-counter products.
He holds a doctorate in several different sciences, but prefers not to be called “doctor.” Simply put, the man is a genius, which you can tell by the way he operates and analyzes everything he does. Despite being in his 40s and having chemistry and biology degrees, he still craved more knowledge. He would even take college courses just to keep himself from being bored. He really liked to share information he learned with anyone who would engage in conversation with him. He was married once, but never had kids, so he didn’t mind sharing the vast knowledge and lessons he learned over time.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirt, and working with him reinforced what I already knew – that I had to become my own boss someday. I began to engulf myself in learning about things that could help my dreams come true. In the end, all I want is to leave a legacy and give the next generation of my family a better head start than I had. I’m a guy who will do all that I can to support people who want change and will take the steps to becoming the change they want to see. So, I’m the guy who never wants to burn bridges. I always want people to know I’m rooting for their dreams to become a reality.
How did you come up with the concept for Barbedeaux Shaving?
It was stumbled upon like most great ideas. I have a group of friends and family that, at any time of day or night, if a great idea pops up, I could call them and ask, “Do you think the world could use this?” I always had problems with razor bumps, so they asked if I wanted to do something about it. Truthfully, I did, but didn’t know exactly where I should start.
I went to my mentor, the chemist, and we begin to throw ideas around. Early on, we had to differentiate which ingredients could be used by everyone, but more specifically, for people of color with curly hair, like me. We began the research and development phase and played with a few formulations, substituted chemicals for more essential oils, and then went into enhancing the product. We discovered nearly 30 variations of what is now our Barbedeaux Moisturizing Razor Bump Therapy Lotion. Once we tested our final formulation, we knew we had a game changer!
How has the process been for you as far as entering the skin care industry?
Getting into business is a learning curve in itself. You learn everything on the fly. On top of that, Uncle Sam is always in your pockets! Make sure you have your business plan together. Also, make sure you have all your business certificates and licenses current, ensuring you allow yourself to get paid, etc. Going into the skin care industry, these were moves we absolutely had to make. Early on, we were looking to start a lotion project, but we didn’t see a true need for another lotion on the market.
These last couple of years I have learned that most companies are after that bottom-line and are squeezing out as much profit as they can without staying focused on the quality of the product they are selling, hoping a sales team or marketing team will get it done. We always use quality ingredients from trusted companies like Rita Corp, Nexeo Solutions, Univar, and Essential Ingredients. That way, making premium products are much easier with the quality vendors we use. The best part is that we manufacture grooming, beauty, and cosmetics products in-house. When it came down to the Barbedeaux brand, we wanted to make sure we made quality products that not only worked, but exceeded expectations. We want our customers to get premium products for a fair price. Nobody can compete when it comes to price per ounce and quality of our product; I mean nobody!
Our goal is to make sure everyone who uses our products gets great results. It was never a rushed product; the market was researched and we found a need. Things are going well, with nothing but positive feedback from our barbers and customers. The Barbedeaux brand is slowly but surely walking the line to success. I like to think of our brand as the rookie player coming off the bench and lighting up the scoreboard.
We really want to be the go-to for barbers and at-home consumers when it comes to men’s grooming products. I want Barbedeaux to become a brand that is synonymous with premium quality because a lot of thought and love goes into making Barbedeaux products.
Any advice for individuals looking to get into the skin care industry?
Be prepared! Not just financially prepared, but mentally and physically as well. Also, research the market. It’s more than just waking up, going to work, and then going to sleep; you truly have to be bred for it. I’ve never been a long sleeper. I go to sleep early in the A.M. and wake up a few hours later, so this lifestyle is a good fit for me. I look to get the work of 2-5 people done in a 24-hour period.
Research the market you want to get into, but be boldly different and creative to find the one thing that makes your product stand out from the rest. You must find your niche and get your products in the right people’s hands. If you don’t properly build your product or service on a solid foundation, and if you are not your biggest cheerleader, you will probably become another “Joe Schmo” doing the same thing as everyone else, which won’t help you create longevity for your company. Whatever issues come your way (and many will come, believe me), just keep driving and forcing your will to succeed. Always keep in mind that although you may hear 100 no’s, it only takes that one yes to change your life forever.
How can readers keep up with you and your product?
They can visit my website, www.barbedeaux.com, or follow me on social media: @TheRealBBDX on Twitter, @barbedeaux on IG, and Waveform Lab (Barbedeaux) on Facebook.
This article was written by Justin Sims, (IAMMRMENTOR), In hopes of not only inspiring entrepreneurs, but young black males to be the best and the truest version of themselves.
If you like this article and find yourself interested in more positive stories about black millennial age males, please visit WWW.IAMMRMENTOR.CO and follow him on his social media pages IAMMRMENTOR on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Editing By: Ciara Dawson