July 19, 2023
Robb Report: The Former Electrician Who Built A $200 Million Grooming Empire
It’s one of the greatest Australian success stories rarely told—how Patrick Kidd, a knockabout bloke from the NSW South Coast, came to dominate the billion-dollar global grooming industry.
Picture a global grooming entrepreneur—a man whose eponymous brand now dominates the shelves of leading boutiques and luxury department stores and claims a swag of worldwide awards—and it’s not Patrick Kidd. That’s not to be dismissive of Kidd. Not at all. For his swagger, ruthless focus and never-give-a-fuck attitude is to be admired. But he brings a unique and unapologetically Australian-ness to the scene. A former electrician, a grafter, a Bondi fella (note: not hipster) and father of two, he likes his cars (he has tattoos of them to prove such), doesn’t avoid beers with mates and owns some solid banter.
Despite the many successes of the past decade or so, he is also, and above all else, genuine and accessible. Kidd, 45, started this empire (not a word he’d use—but true, nonetheless) after ditching work as an electrician (“sparky” is the word he would use) to launch a luxury male hairdressing salon, one he felt would work despite any experience.
“One morning I rolled out of bed and burst into tears,” he says. “[Wife] Aimee was like, ‘What’s the matter?’, thinking Mum had died or something, and I was like, ‘I just can’t do this anymore. I fucking hate this’ [being an electrician]. And she was like, ‘Quit. Grow up … ’
Kidd had spied a gap in the haircare market and was soon looking to fill it. “You either had barbers doing whatever cut David Beckham had going on at the time or high-end women’s salons—but nothing else.”
Patricks For Men was launched and proved to be an immediate success, with Sydney men stumping up a then unprecedented $60 for a haircut—and entry into what became an exclusive club-like environment about which word quickly spread across the city and beyond. “Drug dealers to brain surgeons and everyone in between—yeah that was the joke. But these guys got a great haircut because we would hire hairdressers instead of barbers and then teach them how to fade—and people were into it.”
Despite the numbers—an impressive 300-500 in the chairs a week—the Bondi overheads were high and Kidd was soon looking into multidimensional haircare products for men (think hair loss, fragrance, high performance). “No one was doing it, so we thought fuck it, we’ll do it ourselves.”It’s here that you come to appreciate not only Kidd’s ability to craft a solid tale, but the veritable passion and burning drive to succeed that fuels everything he does. So too an obsessive desire to only ever deliver the best.
He proceeded to stalk a Stateside laboratory that never returned requests to meet, ultimately flying himself to Miami and ambushing the desired CEO. It worked, and Patricks haircare—consisting two shampoos and two conditioners—was born, with Kidd driving all aspects, right down to package design.
“I was like, use aluminium but don’t just use any aluminium, use the same aluminium that Apple does.
”The brand became the first grooming label to land on a then newish Mr Porter, and went on to score desirable UK and US retail accounts—Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, Saks, to name a few—with pointed and glowing editorials in the right magazines, alongside global grooming awards.
Kidd’s expansion into skincare came through a chance encounter in a sauna at the Four Seasons in Chicago—as you do. He got chatting to another sauna-goer about the (then new) 599 Ferrari parked out front, which led to a lengthy conversation about work.
“He tells me about being a neurosurgeon but also working with Big Pharma and biotech and pharmaceuticals for Harvard University, MIT, Yale … that he always wanted to do a women’s skincare line, because a lot of the things that he worked on, essentially, was anti-ageing.
“Now I’d been in there for 20-25 minutes before he even got in, so I was sweating it up—so the clock’s ticking and I’m never negative, but I said to him, ‘Look, it’s a competitive space, that’s where all the ‘big girls’ and ‘big boys’ play and you need LOTS of money. So why don’t you do a high-end men’s version [built on scientific and medical ingredients]? Would it work the same on our skin as women’s?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, fucking good idea. It’d probably be better.’
He offered Kidd a business partnership. “Of course I said ‘YES’.”
Kidd tells the sauna story to all retail and sales staff charged with moving his products across the globe—yes, he’s really that hands-on.
“I don’t even talk about the product—it’s like a Dave Chappelle-esque comedy show and after an hour I always get emails saying, ‘Oh, the staff say that was the best training ever,’ and then sales go through the roof because they feel like they know you, that you’re real, you’re not just some big corporation …”
It’s this accessibility and relatability that, alongside the graft, the effort, the drive and the belief, is central to this great Australian success story. Figures get thrown around, though Patricks’ current market value sits around $40 million. Projections have $20 million coming in by the end of the year, which, given the unique scalability of this product sector, means the business’s worth would then sit around the $200 million mark.
It means more people in the office—surprisingly there’s still only 18 involved, such are the many hats that Kidd and wife Aimee continue to wear—and more product lines to deliver.
“I want to grow the suite and keep our eye on the prize—what is the next ingredient in anti-ageing? What is the next hair-loss ingredient? How can we help guys feel better about themselves? It sounds a bit wanky with grooming, but it has a lot to do with people’s self-esteem and their confidence."
“So if I can make a really good product that then makes the guy’s life more efficient and easy and better, they’re going to use that forever—and then they’ll be the best spokesmen for the brand you could ever have. Yeah, I just want to make better products and maybe help some guys along the way.”
You can read the article here: https://robbreport.com.au/style/grooming/patrick-kidd-interview/