Clayton Douds, a Houston native, is the guy behind O'Douds Apothecary, a very successful line of products that all started with a jar of pomade. We first met through friends at church and used to live a block away from each other before he and his wife moved to Brooklyn last year. You might recognize his name if you've purchased any of our candles, soap, or pomade, as these collaborative items were initially created to be part of our Kickstarter rewards.
Tell me a bit about your background, before you started making pomade.
Well, I started the company at a pretty young age, but before O’Douds I was working in the restaurant industry. I was a manager at a cool burrito chain (Freebirds), and I was taking class at University of Houston for Hotel and Restaurant Management. That industry is where I got my first job, and I definitely fell in love with it. I’m not a huge people person, but people seem to be in a much better mood when there is good food involved, and I always loved that.
I spent the majority of my life completely uncomfortable with my hair. It’s curly, thick, and pretty much impossible to manage. I straightened it for a while in high school, but that was clearly just a stage, haha! Anyways, I found out about a cool Houston barbershop from a friend, got a haircut and a jar of cheap pomade, and I was sold. However, the pomade was not natural in any way, so I immediately started looking for alternatives. Long story short, I was unhappy with other alternatives and decided to make my own! I knew there must be other people in my situation, so why not?
How long did it take you to make your first successful batch?
Hahaha, define successful. The first few batches were basically candles, completely unusable. I think I was 10 or 15 attempts in before I started making some real progress.
How did the rest of your apothecary line fall into place?
Pretty naturally. We had a lot of the ingredients, and certain products would peak my interest, so we would try different things and if we were able to create anything unique or beneficial to the market, we moved forward with it. As a growing company, it’s very hard to keep the inspiration that initially drove us, so constantly improving our current products and working on new products is how we stay innovative and motivated.
I remember when your studio/workspace was still in your small Houston apartment. What's it like now having a separate studio in Brooklyn?
Completely different. Moving the business out of our apartment was the biggest step the company has ever taken. Even when I was working full time in our apartment, it still felt somewhat like a hobby. Moving to our own space forced a lot of realities upon us, and it’s been an incredible growing experience.
How's the culture, working as a maker in Brooklyn, in comparison to Houston?
It’s great. There are more stores, people, and companies, so that of course comes with more opportunities. We’ve been able to make friends, connections and do things we could have never done in Houston. So far it’s great, but we definitely still miss home!
Would you say that it's helped business, or is it more competitive?
It’s definitely helped the business. I think for some people it could be more competitive, but we make it a point not to worry about that type of thing. We are responsible for ourselves and we are constantly pushing ourselves to be the best we can. I’ve never seen the point in competing with other makers, I mean, we all have the same values right? Why not work together? The only downside that we have experienced is that everything costs more, but there’s not a whole lot that can be changed about that, haha.
I'd like to hear some about how you approach collaborations. Is it different than when you approach a new product for your line?
Yeah, it’s definitely different. When we approach a collaboration we always pull aspects from both companies to create something that is truly unique. We wan’t everyone to be represented, and I think that’s what gives us the ability to do things in different ways. Usually these collaborations are a “take” on another product, or are a variation of a product that we already do. New products go through a very different process.
I must confess that I've been drooling over the teaser Christian Watson recently posted on Instagram of the new branding work he's been doing for your company; what's it like working with him?
Haha, that is so cool! Christian is incredible, I’m not sure where we would be without him. Much of the success of O’Douds is due to our branding. The reality of e-commerce is that people buy with their eyes, and we’ve always understood how important it is to work with talented artists. Christian is without a doubt one of the best there is, his work is very unique and it fits our brand perfectly.
What's next for O'Douds? Any spoilers you'd like to share?
New products and some updates are coming very very soon. No official release date, but we are aiming for very early next month. The most exciting thing that we’ll be releasing is deodorant. At least, it’s the most exciting for me, haha! We haven’t made that announcement official, but we’ve been dropping some not-so-vague hints.