brand toronto

Toronto man letting public vote on every aspect of his new brand

What would happen if you tried to start a new brand in Toronto, but let the public vote on every aspect of its creation?

That's exactly what Vinny Sehravat of Instagram account @buildabeardbrand is doing. He's conducting a social experiment building his own e-commerce beard oil brand from scratch, starting with the idea, gaining a following and giving the brand a name. His day job is running creative agency UPWRD Creative.

"The goal isn't only to build a successful beard brand, but to also inspire followers to begin their e-commerce journey sooner than later. Oftentimes, people have a business they should start but don't really know how to get started," Sehravat told blogTO.

"When looking at my account, you're able witness each business stage first hand which I believe will help push those with great ideas to also get started."

Though Sehravat is passionate about the beard oil business and his product which is made in Toronto using locally sourced ingredients, the account is meant to be as much a teaching tool as it is an actual brand.

"I figured that being extremely candid would be a really great and different way to showcase how to build a successful e-commerce brand from scratch. I post my journey daily so followers can interact and watch what I'm doing and how I'm doing it," says Sehravat.

"The best thing is that all this information is offered for free after personally spending thousands of dollars taking courses, investing hours of my time in coaching sessions, and learning from various podcasts and mentors."

He's hoping to gain a following for his beard brand, but also teach those new to e-commerce "strategies and groundwork" like idea validation, learning about your target market, naming your brand, product packaging, building a website, growing your socials and consulting with the right people.

"Followers get to vote on all my next steps, suggesting the brand name and voting for it, voting on the product bottle design, labeling, which e-commerce platform to build my site on, et cetera. For example, I asked followers to help me think of a brand name because we can't be called 'Build A Beard Brand' forever," says Sehravat.

"I created a Typeform survey a couple of days ago and to date, we've received over 120 responses! The next action step is to pick my favourite three names, and then have my followers vote on the winning brand name. We are going to be a brand built 100 per cent by the community. The community is super excited to participate daily."

The account has just a few hundred followers, but that's only a few weeks after launching it, and those followers have been responding well to the brand and experiment.

"The account has been growing at a rapid rate since I started it 3 weeks ago. We are hitting milestones every couple of days," says Sehravat.

"The response has been overwhelmingly positive and this is what keeps me going. I wasn't sure how receptive people would be to this concept initially but each day I am receiving messages from people thanking me for the value I am providing them. We are starting to get follows from well known beard influencers, and influential people with beards."

Sehravat has also been conducting his experiment as a way of showing the hard work and long hours that go into building an e-commerce business, and that they're anything but simple get-rich-quick schemes.

"A common misconception when it comes to e-commerce is that you can just buy a cheap product, sell it online, and make thousands within the first few days. However, just like starting a brick and mortar, there is a ton of leg work required and my hope is for the account to showcase exactly that," says Sehravat.

"Through learning from my UPWRD Creative clients, many of them launch a business before doing the groundwork. They simply launch, create an IG account, get a few sales on launch day from friends and family, and then try to grow from there."

Before even creating an Instagram account, Sehravat says it's important to connect with a product you're passionate about and to put research into the growth of that product's industry.

"The first step in building an e-commerce brand is to be passionate about the product you are selling. I have a hearty beard, I'm a beard oil consumer, and I've always wanted to make my own blend to cater to my beard's needs," says Sehravat.

"We also hope to take on other areas of men's grooming. There has been a pivotal shift in male pampering culture over the last few years. As studies show, by 2024, the global male grooming market is estimated to be worth about 81.2 billion U.S. dollars."

So after all that, what will it look like when the actual product is finally available for public consumption?

"I envision our product to be sold in limited quantities. Our first blend is for the first 100 followers, and is called 'The First 100,' unique, and formulated by taking the opinions of the community," says Sehravat.

"From what I've learned by taking surveys, each bearded man has a different goal for their beard and our products will be created to cater to each goal. Upon launching, I plan to contribute a portion of each sale to a charity that is backed by our follower community, they will suggest and vote on the charity."

If you're a beard oil aficionado, looking to learn more about and maybe start your own e-commerce business, or want to be a part of a new community that gives back, you might want to give this project a follow. With new requests for feedback all the time, at the very least there's never a dull moment.

Lead photo by

Vinny Sehravat

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