Breaking down barriers of toxic masculinity, emphasizing self-expression and self-care have driven the development of Faculty, a new men’s grooming company. Through this inspiring conversation, founder Fenton Jagdeo, HBA ’16, talks about changing stigmas, giving back to his community and not being afraid to disrupt the status quo.
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Insights and wisdom lie within every business decision. Welcome to the Leaders by Ivey podcast, where we discover hidden narratives in unlock key learnings for our own leadership and career journeys. Welcome to the first episode of season two of the Leaders by Ivey podcast we've got a great line up in store for you, this season, including our first yes, Fenton Jagdeo HBA’16 and Co-Founder, COO at Faculty, a men's cosmetics company. It's a great conversation where we talk about giving permission for self-care and breaking the stigma of men's cosmetics. Fenton through all of his actions in his businesses, is giving back in a big way. During this talk, I was really struck by how he brings his energy enthusiasm and passion back to not only Ivey but the communities, businesses that he belongs to sit back and enjoy Fenton thanks very much for joining us today. I want to dig in and start really at the beginning, tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do and what's your relation to iv yeah totally mad. First and foremost, thank you so much for having me, never thought I’d be in a podcast for the Richard Ivey School of Business, so this does means a lot. Let me let me let me take it from the top Fenton Jagdeo, I’m an HBA’16, I had the pleasure of going to school at Ivey. That's always nice. I currently am the co founder and chief operating officer of a started based out of San Francisco. We sell cosmetics, but the spin on this cosmetic company is at it's for men and it has a masculine twist to it. So that's exciting and I think never do much covers it and we're going to get back to that, because I want to learn a little bit more about what a cosmetics for men look like what does that industry look? Looking at your bio, you made a switch from consulting at Deloitte. I have to ask what was that moment or what spurred you to go out at your on your own and start your own business and kind of (inaudible) there on yourself by yourself, yeah man, that's a really good question, and you know people ask me that all the time and quite frankly, I think the answer was time. So entrepreneurship, I think, seems to be romanticized by a western culture and it's an opportunity to go out and do your own thing and to hopefully make it big and that's all great now, but there are some perils to entrepreneurship if you're not quite frankly prepared. So when thinking about my jump into it, it was really the alignment of different planets and stars that made it all work. I think the first thing was I had enjoyed a you know wonderful career working as a management consulting at Deloitte, which has given me, I think enough footing to be stable. The second thing is, you know: I have the privilege of living in Toronto in my mother's basement, which means I don't have to pay him mortgage and I don't have to pay a rent, and you know. As far as I’m concerned, I don't have any kids, which also means that there are no theen nce in my life now, given that background, and given the fact that there was this idea that my co founder who's, also an HBA grad that we had, you know the fact that I had no responsibilities, the fact that I’m still young the fact that I have a stable base to go back to in the event that this completely spontaneously combated gave me the privilege, if you will, to jump into entrepreneurship, because guess what? If this fails, there's only net positive coming out of this, so that's sort of where it all stems from now. Do you have family or other people that inspire you, that are entrepreneurs like how? What were there anything that led you to say? I could do this. I've got a great example of somebody that I know anybody like that in your in your universe. You know I’ll be honest with you Matt there aren't, but the great thing is, and you know one thing that we learn at Ivey is: there are always going to be leaders around you, whether you're reading it in Forbes whether you're reading it on tech crunch, you start to look at how their careers blossomed and how they jump to it, and it follows a pretty similar arc. So for me it was hey. If you know, Zuckerberg could do this. What makes me completely different than Zuckerberg outside of the fact that I’m not a programming genius, but it really does come down to if someone else can do it, and I have the capacity to attempt it, then why not? I think I think I think in my you know. Hopefully I live for a very long time, but given that the average you know male and Canada lives up roughly up until eighty seven at the age of eighty seven, you know I don't want to look back on my career and say well, I didn't try the thing you know and I didn't try the entrepreneurship thing at a time and place where I had the privilege to do so. So you've hit the right time. The universe offered up some opportunities. Let's dig in a little bit to the cosmetic side of it would inspire you to get into cosmetics and namely male cosmetics, and what does that industry look like for those that don't know much about it? Describe it to us. So I can talk at length about this, but I’ll try to keep it short. The one thing that we've recognized is that the makeup industry as a whole, the cosmetics industry as a whole, is worth half a trillion dollars. Now that valuation comes from one portion of our demographic and that's women. Now, if we go back about a hundred years and we gave men the permission to wear cosmetics, the value of that market would likely be the same, because this thing this idea of self care in a way that's more expressive- is based on this notion of permission. Now you fast forward a couple generations and we have GenZ we're talking the kids who are owning thirty to thirty five percent of the American buying power, we're talking about the new generation, because millennials are completely played out. Nobody cares about us anymore, it's about the gen z and we realized that that generation isn't concerned with this concept of gendered consumption. What they're concerned about is feeling good in their own skin, doing the thing that makes them feel good and having the tools to do that. So when we think about that as a market opportunity, but then also realize that there is this complete and new social movement happening where masculinity is completely being redefined as not one that's about machismo, ism and being the bread winner, but one that self expressive and introspective you start to realize that you can tie these two things together. So what was birth out of those variables? Is this thing called faculty, a modern grooming company that enables your self expression and we just so happen to do it with? You know color cosmetics, everything from a nail polish, which we just launched in July to future products like a concealer, a bb cream, and you know we like to say at the company that faculty fits in a box and you don't and we're excited about our growth, we're excited about our trajectory and we do believe that this is going to be the future of what it means to be fashionable as a man as a woman or as anybody who has to handle this concept of masculinity. So I love the word permission and you know you talk about the historical relevance of permission. Is that stigma changing you notice? You said that there's a certain generation that it definitely is buying into this idea. What can we do or what? What other organizations do we look? Should we look towards that is changing that stigma, or does it even exist anymore, so the stigma definitely does exist, but it's shifting and it's changing and in the same way the fashion is adopted over a two year cycle or you might see somebody wear a shirt on a Paris runway. Two years later, it's in your local hm the same way that these trends are being adopted, and we don't even have to look at it. We don't even have to look at organizations where we have to look at or the people who hold influence. So a great story that I have is thinking about. You know one of my favorite wrappers soup dog now, for those who don't know who Snoop Dog is Snoop Dog at one point in his career was one of the hardest rappers out of Compton. Okay, now fast forward. Twenty plus years and he's being and he's getting made fun of by fifty cent for having French tips on his finger. This is a classic example of somebody in a very male oriented had or enormity industry like the raps game, who is an OG for lack of a better term and has completely shifted his own personality when it comes to expression. So looking at the Snoop Dogs of the world or the ASAP Rockys of the world or the Timothy Shallow Maze of the world, all these celebrities who are influencing a whole new generation of consumption, but a whole generation of thinking, that's where we get our inspiration from and it's these network effects that are so incredible to watch as they proliferate across. You know North America, seemingly already proliferating in Asia and watching that happen. So we're excited about that and you also use to term self care. You know what's coming up as we think about meditation and mindfulness and eating well, how does faculty relate to self care and talk a little bit about what does self care mean to you and your organization? I like to say this thing at the company where, if I look good, I feel good and if I feel good, that in turn enables me to do the thing that I do best and part of that is to struggle between having a positive mental being and having your mental health at a state where it's a one. So if we think I about that as a derivation of what it means to take care of yourself, I know that when I look good- and I feel good- and I can do good- then part of our mission as a brand is to make people feel good so that they can be themselves and do the best that they can in whatever job role or organization that they are playing in. And that's what makes us excited and part of the reason why we also donate some of our profits to organizations that are helping to increase awareness around mental health, a d and awareness around being good and being good to each other and being good to ourselves. So you know Matt. I mentioned earlier this idea that cosmetics is going to be an extension of who we are and how we look and are branding in our imagery, but it's also an extension of how we defend against the mental perils that that impact us as people as personalities, you know and as viable productive human beings. I love that you mentioned that you're, giving back that's something that I v preaches in the classroom and outside the classroom. I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you know, tell us a little bit about some of those organizations that you're supporting, because that's maybe a listener, wants to get involved or support them or utilize some of their services. Who, who are you guys given back to right? Now? We are partnering with an organization called the crisis text line. The crisis text line is a free, twenty four seven text line to chat with a counselor in times of crisis, of potential suicide, of depression, of any way shape or feeling that makes you not feel yourself and it's very simple. You text the word home to seven four one, seven, four one and you get in touch with the counselor now for us again. We have this idea in this manifesto that we want to be the brand that helps you find yourself and we're cognizant that not every person has the privilege or the ability to find themselves because of cultural backlash or religious tension, and we want to ensure that we are assisting in any way that we can as a brand, but also giving back to those organizations- and I think the second area that we're giving back and is to organizations and entities and think tanks that are helping to progress the voices of equity. You know it's, I would be remiss to say that the issues happening in the us around you know the killings with George Floyd and Brianna Taylor and the mental incarceration. If you will of people that identify as black indigenous or persons of color lgbtq plus, you know, as a group that's different than than what's seen as as as likable of the norm. You know it's difficult finding themselves and we want to also ensure that we're generating some revenues and pushing those revenues towards these organizations that are helping to create a more equitable planet, because we believe in one where we can all live in harmony and celebrate each other's differences. The same way that, as a brand and there's faculty, believes we all have our own unique personality and we can shine through based on what we're trying to do with our business. It's really clear to me listening to you speak about the organization and those that you work with is a huge part of the motivation, for you know, starting this business and motivating you to give back what else are you finding right now that is motivating you that that's pushing you to grow and drive this business and think about starting others? Where do you get your inspiration from? I get my inspiration from people honestly, and I you know. I recognize that I am a happier person when I am helping other people, so in addition to what I’m doing with faculty, you know I have the privilege of serving as a board director for the largest urban library system in the entire world. That's the Toronto public library. You know we are. We are one. You know we have one hundred and five locations across the city and we service Toronto, but also our neighboring cities, Brampton Mississauga Hamilton, because all those patrons do come to the library- and I have the also the esteemed pleasure of you know being the chair of the strategy planning committee. So as a lead for that, how do I ensure that our next five years is going to be one where we help people right, whether it's? How do we help new immigrants to Canada, who may not have a computer or a smartphone to ensure that they have the technology that they need to succeed? Or how do we ensure that we've got all the literature that's required to help people feel as though they can operate in a new world where the future of work is completely changing? How we do things and- and it's this it's this idea of helping people that just you know, gets me going the same way that you know mad. I was I was mentioning to you. You know earlier before we started the call that I have some colleagues in mine are some colleges and I were going to be. You know, building out a you know, one of the most cost effective transit agencies in North Africa, one because we believe that if you spend a dollar and transit you for x the economy but most importantly, we get to move people and we get to prove that that moving people is what will help arenig rate the economy in a place that is going through some political change from that trying to mentor- and I have a colleague of fellow HBA of mine- and I we recently started this- call it an organization call it a call it an over glorified list. But this thing called the BIPOC mentor community, where we are seeking all western and Ivey graduates who you know, look at themselves as black and indigenous or other people of color and saying hey your leaders in your own right. There are other students who want to be where you are it's so difficult to find mentors, especially mentors who look like us. You know how do we, how do we make that connection? How do we, how do we hook these students up with leaders who share similar cultural values and can empathize a bit more on the struggle to find a career and to work their way up into the world and were excited by you know where we've gone and we're excited by the amount of people who are interested in helping- and you know we have- are the other schools reaching out to us to build their own chapter so in a number of fronts or creating spaces and creating conversations that are really important across organizations in the classroom as well? What else do you think for those that are listening, the importance of giving back, especially as now as you've mentioned a lot of the things that are happening through Canada and in you in the us? What else can people be thinking about doing or getting engaged with regards to by poc issues, for example, how else can we get involved, get involved in any way, shape or form it? If you don't have a dollar to spare, then spare some time to an organization help them with your skill set. If you do have a dollar to share, find an organization or a think tank that is progressing the voices of others, and if you don't have the resources and you don't have the dollars- and maybe you have the friends and encourage them to think about how they donate their own mental time to thinking about these issues and progressing them forward. There's no such thing as one way to do right and- and you know we're often I think, as a society, we often think well. Big business and government is going to help us, but even still as an individual, you have the ability to impact millions of people with a click of a button with the signature on a piece of paper and that's so powerful and the more we recognize that, even as an individual, that's may be isolated, we still do have the ability to impart change on millions of people and entire generation, so just get involved to get involved, find the resources share and just have those conversations have what could be a difficult conversation, but have them have them? Have those difficult conversations and learn from those difficult conversations and that in itself you know, creates this network effect of knowledge, because the ting look- and I try to explain this- is some of my colleagues to who are who are worried, that will they can't make a difference or they don't have the ability to make an impact? It's think about it. Selfishly. If you have these conversations, you have the ability to impact the lives of people who don't have the same equitable converse or the same equitable opportunities. If those people have the same opportunities and have a level playing field, they allow themselves to get involved in the economy. They can get good jobs, they have good jobs, they are less of a burden on the health care system and guess what your taxes go to the health care system anyway. So if there's no, if you don't think altruistically, then think selfishly and- and you know you know- contrary to what people might believe- that's an okay approach, but understand that if you help others or you're effectively helping yourself so we've got students that are sitting in the classroom right now sitting in the seats that that you sat in as an iv student. What other advice do you have for that student that may wish to follow in your footsteps, creating a company giving back getting involved in the community? Anything else, that's major that you go. I really want them to hear this message. Yeah just do it nike and- and I mean that's a slogan, but let me let me let me break it down further. We lose precious moments of execution when we think and don't get me wrong. Like you know, I went through the ringer. I did strategy in third and fourth year, and I know what it means to put together something comprehensive, something, cohesive, something well fought out financial model. Everything is ready to go right, but the problem with that is that that deters action. If you have an idea, if you have a goal, if you want to do something, just do it and do it for you don't think too much about how you're going to do it don't think too much about whether or not it's feasible at the moment or if it's viable, just go and execute it, and what that will do, for you is create enough momentum to drive you forward the minute. You start questioning yourself or your questioning your credibility or your capacity to do something which I know entering h. Ba was very difficult because I’ve got all these incredibly smart people around me who know so much more than me, and the level of intimidation is as an all time high. You know when you think too much about all these things and you're constantly planning it slows you down. So just do it do something small do something that you'll be proud of and do it for you and as you as you start to go on to this path of execution, you realize that the balls rolling it's in your court and you're going quickly. So just do it don't be afraid, and you know for those interested entrepreneurship and the stars, a line for you to just do it. Don't be fearful of then results because, no matter what you're going to get out within that positive, so you've given us a little taste about what's coming up next for you, what do you have next in line? What are the next one or two projects that you really psyched about, and you want to move on to give us a little taste of what's to come. So I mentioned the by poc mentor com. That's a big thing for me as we start to grow as an organization, I think there's going to be a great opportunity to help students across Canada and hopefully, if this girls big enough across the us and finding mentors a look like themselves- and you know outside of that, the majority of my time. My thinking of my breathing is with faculty. So thinking about how we go out, for example, in the next couple of months to raise our seed round on top of the precedent that we raised last year. Thinking about how I you know, incentivize my employees and make them feel as though the mission is worth while and you know how do we do good job as leaders, I think, is where my energies is being put to great. I want to talk a little bit about challenges in the previous season. Folks shared a lot about o. No, not only what was going well but shared in some of the things that were challenges. Can you talk a little bit, whether it be your transition from Deloitte, the starting up the company thinking about new companies? What has been the most significant challenge that you've faced, and how did you respond to that challenge? You know going back to this idea that we glamorize entrepreneurship, and you know it's nice to raise money and it's nice to lead a company, but here's one thing that you know I don't tell people very often is I left the comfort of a large consulting institution to effectively build a start up from the ground up with minimal funding during a pandemic, where we were forced to make very difficult decisions on how we structure our company, where we were forced to deal with an environment where investors weren't looking to give capital to new companies and instead were looking to prop up their own portfolio. We built, or we started, to build a company in an environment where there were nay sayers on the path of what we believe is an incredible tread happening now and still naysayers, so you've got antagonists from every walk of life. If you will coming at you and it starts to impact your mental health, it starts to impact the way that you think, and the biggest challenge is. How do you manage all of that right? The stress of failure, the stress of not having enough. You know, food on the table, the stress of wanting to raise money, but no one wants to talk to you, not because his idea is terrible, but they just can't and the fact that you've had to restructure your company at one point, lay people off who have effectively left their prior lives to build something with you and it's tough. So the mental stress that comes with building a business is something that I think needs to be recognized, because it's not easy. How did you, at the end of a stressful day, manage that to so that you could go in the next day and have you've got great energy? You seem to be a very positive person with a positive outlook. I’m sure you didn't ignore the naysayers, because there's sometimes there's some nuggets in there that we can take to help grow the business. How do you manage it? Yeah? I think three things I think the first is making sure that my physical being was wasn't a place that I can continue to do good, so I always make it a point to exercise. I will always cut out an hour of my time to exercise my cofounder hates it, because he'll try calling me and I’ll be like no, I’m lifting something I i got to call you back. This is my meter. So first is like making sure that my physical temple is in a good place that I can practice. The second thing is: have your therapist, and by therapist I mean your best friend I mean your significant other. I mean somebody that you can talk to where you don't feel judge, and you can just lay it out on the table where you can yell you can scream. You can talk about your fears and potential disparities where you can cry to, and I think having that ability to just be yourself and to be fully cognizant of your own emotions will help, and it's so important- and you know going back to this conversation with masculinity. Masculinity- is not moving away from a show dominance. So I’m trying to practice what I preach in the products I sell and the value proposition to that building, and I think the third thing is reminding me reminding myself reminding my team that what we're doing here is beyond us and it's for a good cause that we know is so powerful and you know matt. I part of the reason why we wake up every morn to do what we do. Part of the reason why I wake up every morning is the direct messages. The text messages that we get from people who no idea who's running this company, but for some strange reason, love the fact that we are breaking down the walls of toxic masculinity or feel so at home with a brand like faculty, because no other brand makes them feel the same way. It's these messages from genuine people who are advocates for our brand, but advocates for the social mission that make me feel like you know what, if I have a bad day today, there's always tomorrow, because these people are counting on me and there's so much more powerful than that, and you got to just remove yourself from that. So make sure your physical temples in tiptop shape make sure you know that there's somebody you can speak to call it a therapist call it your mom call it your significant other, whoever that person is to just be as emotional and raw with and remember why you're doing this remember all the right reasons, and hopefully that tri factor triangulate it correctly will lead you to victory, but just because I you know fuck anybody's else's life up based on that, don't you know, take it with a grain of salt. No and it's and it's sharing that with your team too right. You've got you've, got the messages coming in man. Those are motivating not only to you but for others around your team. So it's great that you're sharing that and sharing it across your organization. You you've talked about some of the things that are getting you up in the morning that you're passionate about a BIPOC initiatives as one example, the library Toronto library for those that are Ivey grads thinking about giving back to the community and volunteering. How did you start that process? Because I’m sure you didn't jump into your role immediately with the Toronto library? You know, how did you, how did you start that process of finding the right fit for you to give back to volunteer yeah? That's an interesting story, so I have been. I've been politically active since I was fourteen years old in the city and in the province and federally also, and part of the reason why I wanted to jump into politics was because I in my civics class, you know we were told that if you were, if you wanted to make the biggest impact you know you want to jump into some form of political realm. So I remember my first volunteer opportunity. It was with a political party here in Canada and I was knocking door the door just insuring. People knew what the message was. You know the MP that we were representing and going from there- and I was- I was completely elated by the opportunity and continued throughout my ten year as a Torontonians to get more involved in social issues, because I made this connection between. If I can, if I can help a ward or my province or this country be a better place for all, then it'll be a better place for me and you know you go through life meeting people and you know, for example, I recently the most recent political thing I was involved in was helping John Tory who's. The Mayor of Toronto get re elected. It was part of his war room and sort of help advise on economic and novation issues. If you will and compile all that stuff until a binder for his debates- and I also did some spying for the other candidate- so you know you, or spying on behalf of the team on the other candidate, but you get involved, you meet people and you start to realize that there's all this great change you can make- and there are all these organizations that are looking for talented people. You just have to go and look for them like. I don't think people realize that there is a whole website that you can go to right now that showcases every open, available board position in Toronto on a public, real yeah, find a passion, be willing to give back and ask questions and maybe start in a role that you know. You may not be heading a committee yet, but you know get out there get involved, follow that passion exactly but actually have a passion right and that's interesting. You mentioned this idea that, like you, know, you're not going to be the head of the organization or the member of the board, but again do for the right reasons right if you, if you eventually prove yourself and you get to a position where you are making decisions on behalf of a constituency terrific, if not knocking on doors, is still quite okay, because you are still making a difference in the eyes of your political affiliation yep. Exactly. I want to just take a moment to thank you for being so open and honest with. You know how you, as a leader, are making sure that you're in tip top shape, for example, both mentally and physically talking about what has worked well, what have been some of the stresses and the challenges of getting into entrepreneurship. You've mentioned a number of organizations that you're involved with either personally or professionally through faculty, will make sure that we try to get some links up to as many of these any parting thoughts for the listener we've got current students, we've got alum. We've got business leaders around Canada that are listening. Any final thoughts you want to leave them with or charge them with what going out and doing here's my parting advice, don't be afraid if you're, if you're a student and you're new to the HBA program, do not be afraid to raise your hand for participation and even if you say something dumb, no one's going to remember to morrow. If you are a big shot, business leader, who's made it in life, don't be afraid to do something. That's not the status quote, don't be afraid to disrupt the industry or the company that you are running for the sake of something greater. If you are a future entrepreneur or thinking about doing your own thing, do not be afraid of setbacks or failure or the possible social repercussions. Just don't be afraid and do things for you and I promise you, you remove fear as an antagonist and the only this only positive that comes out of any initiative, any activation, any thought process. Any new structure of thinking that you want to employ on yourself. So just don't be afraid. That's fantastic! Ten thanks again for of what you're doing to give back and for spending some time with us today, no worries matt, always a pleasure hope. I didn’t talk too much thanks again to Fenton, for joining us, we stood out to me were a couple of things. Firstly, there's no one way to do right, so follow your passion and do it your way? Finally, if you're looking to get involved like Fenton, does make sure to visit your community website for lots of grape postings and resources join us for the next episode of the Leaders by Ivey podcast, where we explore the leaders and businesses that shape our communities by for now,