Pictured with John McCourt is Councillor Noreen McClelland, Deputy Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey (left) and Emma Garrett, Chief Executive of Mallusk Enterprise Park (right).
A NEWTOWNABBEY beardsman has used his passion to launch an online beard care and grooming brand thanks to support from the Go For It Programme, in association with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
The Go For It Programme is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) programme.
John McCourt launched Big Phat Beard in July 2020 after being made redundant from the local automotive industry. He decided to turn his hobby of creating his own beard oils and balms into his own range of premium quality beard care products for passionate beardsmen across the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Big Phat Beard offers a selection of premium beard oils and beard balms in a variety of scents, all made with natural ingredients and no artificial additives, as well as a range of branded merchandise including t-shirts, beanie-hats and trucker caps.
Talking about launching his business, John McCourt, said: “I have had a beard for as long as I can remember, but could never quite find a product that I loved. So, I decided to try and make my own, and after trying a number of different formulas and natural ingredients I finally developed a selection of oils and balms that I was finally happy with. I got my bearded friends and family to try out the products, and the feedback was amazing.
“Family and friends were telling me that I should be selling the products online, but it wasn’t until I was recently put on furlough and then made redundant from my job as a parts advisor with a local car retailer, that the idea for Big Phat Beards as a full-time business really took off.
“Being on furlough allowed me to really focus Big Phat Beards and developing the concept and fine tuning the products and being made redundant was the final push I needed to launch my brand online.”
John turned to the Go For It Programme for advice and support after deciding to take the plunge and launch Big Phat Beard online.
The Go For It Programme is delivered free of charge by a team of experienced business mentors through Northern Ireland’s wide network of enterprise agencies. It provides expert advice and help with developing a robust business plan to help turn ideas into a commercial enterprise.
John said: “The Go For It Programme proved to be a massive help, and invaluable source of source of information and ideas in the start-up stage of my business. It provided me with a business plan that has acted as my road map for success in the first three months of trading.
“My business advisor helped me to develop the business plan and it covered all aspects of my business, from getting the products cosmetically tested and approved to the highest possible standard, sourcing the correct packaging, sales and marketing, and a two-year financial forecast.
“The business has been so successful in the first three months of trading that I have enrolled in a barbering course with a view to expanding the Big Phat Beard brand. My vision is to not only expand my own range of premium quality beard care products and merchandise, but to have my own gentleman’s barber shop that will support local men’s mental health and general wellbeing.”
Councillor Noreen McClelland, the Deputy Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey said: “The Go For It Programme is providing accessible, free and specialist business support - giving people the confidence, contacts and the knowledge they need to start trading. I wish John every continued success with Big Phat Beard and encourage anyone thinking about starting their own business to go for it and get in touch!”
Emma Garrett, Chief Executive of Mallusk Enterprise Park, said: “We were delighted to be able to support John with the launch of his own range of premium quality beard oils and balms. You can immediately tell that John is enthusiastic and passionate about the products he is producing and sells only the best oils and balms for men with beards.
“Our business advisor, Peter Weir, worked meticulously with John to develop a detailed business plan that really harnessed his passion, and gave him the confidence he needed to launch Big Phat Beard. It is great to see his business doing so well and already expanding into local retail outlets in Belfast and Larne.”
If you have a business idea you’d like to develop or if you are thinking about starting a business contact the Go For It Programme on 0800 027 0639 or visit: www.goforitni.com.