Earlier this year, department store company Macy’s announced men’s skin and hair care product brand Cardon as the winner of its 2023 The Workshop at Macy’s pitch competition. The contest is part of The Workshop at Macy’s, the retail industry’s longest running exclusive retail-vendor accelerator program for underrepresented diverse-, female-, LGBTQIA- and veteran-owned businesses, provides winners with support to scale operations through comprehensive education and mentorship.
To learn more about Cardon’s growth as a brand, the brand’s experience participating in this year’s The Workshop at Macy’s pitch competition, and its plans for further expansion following the contest win, CosmeticsDesign spoke with Narae Chung, Co-founder of Cardon for her insights.
About the brand, Chung shared that Cardon is “a clean, effective, and affordable personal care brand that focuses on addressing men's skin and hair concerns through innovative products backed by Korean R&D.” However, founding and building the brand to the point where its co-founders could successfully apply for The Workshop at Macy’s pitch competition was not without its challenges.
For example, “one major hurdle was breaking through the existing stereotypes and stigmas surrounding men's skin care,” she said. To overcome this issue, the brand’s co-founders “focused on what we call 'edutainment': engaging with our target audience through informative, educational, and humorous content that also promotes the importance of self-care and the benefits of our products,” she explained.
To further grow the brand’s reach and expand its consumer audience base, Cardon’s co-founders also focused on the products themselves. “We also prioritized building trust and credibility,” Chung shared, “by incorporating clinically proven ingredients and ensuring transparency in our product formulations.”
The Workshop at Macy’s pitch contest application
When Cardon co-founders Chung and Jacqueline Oak applied for The Workshop at Macy’s pitch contest, they crafted their application with a focus on their brand’s strengths and “showcased the unique whitespace opportunities within Macy's - men’s grooming - and demonstrated how Cardon could effectively fill those gaps with a clear specific plan and goal,” which “set us apart from other applicants,” Chung said.
Chung characterized the experience of participating in The Workshop at Macy’s pitch contest as incredible, especially because it “provided us with a platform to showcase our brand and vision to key stakeholders, including industry experts and decision-makers,” she shared. Additionally, the competition “allowed us to receive valuable feedback, gain exposure, and validate our product offerings,” which was a crucial aspect of supporting further brand expansion.
Upon learning that they had successfully won the contest, co-founders Chung and Oak were thrilled as “winning the contest not only boosted our confidence but also opened doors to potential retail partnerships and accelerated our growth trajectory,” said Chung.
The win has afforded the Cardon brand with “an invaluable opportunity to elevate our retail presence,” she added, as “The Workshop at Macy's allowed us to connect with industry experts and retail professionals, providing us with essential guidance to develop a clear strategy and action plan for Cardon's next phase of growth.”
By building on the experience and skills gained from participating in the competition, the brand’s co-founders are “excited to leverage the feedback and expertise from the judges to navigate the dynamic retail landscape, reinforce our brand positioning, and cultivate strategic partnerships that will expand our reach and amplify the impact of our brand,” she shared.
Cardon’s next steps
Moving forward, the future goals for the brand are focused on expanding its retail presence and further developing its product offerings, said Chung. The brand’s co-founders are aiming to “forge strategic partnerships with retail outlets that align with our brand values and target audience and provide the in-store experience shoppers need,” as well as continuing to “innovate and introduce new products that address emerging skin care and grooming needs, ensuring that Cardon remains at the forefront of the industry and meets the evolving demands of our customers,” she added.
Ultimately, Chung concluded, the competition win has validated Cardon’s place in the niche area of men’s skin and hair care industry, and the brand hopes to continue to enrich its foundation based on the skills cultivated from The Workshop at Macy’s pitch competition plus its “unique perspective, innovative products, and passionate team dedicated to breaking stigmas and redefining beauty standards.”