We talked with Act+Acre Founder Colm Mackin and got the inside story on:
- How they started a wildly successful direct-to-consumer brand from scratch and landed press with Vogue and Oprah
- The process they accidentally invented that sets them apart from every other haircare product on the shelf
- Why they think emails are the most aggressive form of marketing and what they’re doing instead
💆♀️ The husband-wife duo helping you clean your scalp like it’s never been before
- Meet Colm and Helen: Colm and Helen met 19 years ago on their first day of business school. Helen moved to New York City shortly thereafter to pursue her dream of becoming a celebrity hairstylist.
- Where did the idea come from?: As a celebrity hairstylist, Helen soon began touring with her clients and paying close attention to their hair. It didn’t take long for her to see that most of her clients’ scalps were in rough shape. She knew she could do something to help.
- Funding: To date, Act+Acre has raised $3m.
- Wildest dream come true: Landing a cover story in Vogue with back-to-back appearances on Oprah after launching.
💡 Bet you thought you were cleaning your scalp already
- The foundation: Did you know that your scalp ages six times faster than the rest of your skin? It’s true, and that’s exactly what Act+Acre wants you to know. It needs some extra tender loving care.
- “Free scalp exam”: Part of Act+Acre’s promotion and marketing strategy is showing you what your scalp actually looks like using a scalp camera. Colm said, “We’d literally take the camera and show our clients what their scalp looked like. Then we’d tell them to go home and use our product before coming back and looking at the scalp again. It worked every time.”
- Colm and Helen knew they needed to create a product that focused solely on the scalp. They also knew they wanted to use as natural and high quality ingredients as possible. They spent months searching out and in exploratory conversations with chemists, bio-chemical engineers, and botanists with hopes of finding a team to bring their vision to life.
🔬 The patentable scientific process they created in the process
- The challenge: The team knew they had to keep the actual nutrients from their ingredients in their products. Figuring out how to do that was the not-so-easy part.
- Behind the scenes: Most commercial products on store shelves around the world use heat to ‘cook’ the ingredients. Helen and Colm knew that if they did this, they’d destroy the very things they were actually trying to keep. The products you see on store shelves actually boil off most of the nutrients they claim to include.
- Eureka!: They came up with a method to ‘cold process’ their ingredients using a hyperbaric chamber, ice-cold water, cold air, and 1,200 lb of pressure.
- Big time: This process helped them catch the attention of investors and one of the largest international law firms in the world. This also led them to securing a global patent and trademarks.
🚀 How Act+Acre made it into Vogue…
- Remember the scalp camera?: The team actually used the scalp camera and the before-and-after test in the Vogue interview. “We actually brought the camera out and showed her her scalp and told her to go home and use our cleanser.” She did, and that was more than enough to seal the deal. The resulting article helped catapult them onto stages like Oprah.
- 5/5 stars: When you Google “Act+Acre” now the results are full of rave reviews and before and after pictures showing the transformations.
- Emails are rough: Colm believes emails are the most aggressive form of communication with customers. So they started to call, Instagram DM, and text their loyal customers instead. This tactic alone has led to repeat customers and word of mouth referrals they hadn’t ever imagined.