We had the good fortune of connecting with Hayden Wheatley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hayden, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
The most important lesson along the way has been reinforcing the value of being able to figure things out. Starting a business or doing anything great is thousands of tiny decisions made with care and effort to get to the next place in the journey and overcome the obstacles and blocks along the way. Every single thing from getting a domain name, forming the business entity, finding suppliers, marketing and sales, customer service, and every single other part of the journey are things to be figured out like a puzzle. I still have a long way to go, but being able to figure things out on my own and learn self-reliance along the way has gotten me beyond where I thought I’d be when I set out. We’re fortunate that there’s an ocean of free and current information, lessons, and guides available online, and you can Google literally anything. If you find yourself up against a challenge you can’t overcome, break it down to small steps, and ask yourself if the one, small, next step is bigger than you can handle. I’d be willing to bet that you can do it.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Challenger Men Care is a personal care company that started with one single cream pomade (that I still wear every day), and has grown and expanded to now be a family of high quality and high value products, including 4 hair styling products, shampoos, conditioners, body wash, and our new line of anti-aging skin care products called Challenger Primo. The company started when I took my scrimpings and savings and formed an underfunded LLC to try and get to an initial production run. After searching far and wide for the best production partner and spending months in R&D, we eventually launched the very first product in one size. Then with patience, care, and attention during some very lean times, Challenger has grown beyond hair care to now be much more, with products for everyone. I had to pinch myself the first time we sent a pallet of product somewhere, because I still remember applying the labels and taping up the first 3 jars of Challenger that were ever sold. Launching Challenger by myself was really difficult. Grit, tenacity, patience and good humor in the face of problems have been the most important things to help me and the business persist and continue to grow this long. I’m grateful to the thousands and thousands of people who have used our products, and I’m excited for the millions more to try them in the future.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Depends on the person, but generally I like to include one touristy thing (Venice boardwalk, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Griffith Observatory), and a whole bunch of cool local stuff. For the local stuff, I’m a fan of authentic food spots (Papa Cristo’s Greek Market/Restaurant, Leo’s Taco Truck, Hollywood Pie’s (deep dish pizza), and so many other amazing restaurants). I also like occasionally taking guests up PCH to Malibu, visiting the Getty or Getty Villa if they’re artistic, hitting the Comedy Store for the world’s greatest comedians, or any one of a number of other great things to do here. There’s so much!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There’s an incredible book called Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield that’s a quake book for me (shakes you to your core). It’s a short book (a little over 2 hours for the audio version), and does an incredible job of installing the mental software to decide that it’s ok to become the peak version of yourself. Really enjoyed that book and have “read” (listened) to it several times.