What began as a family business aiming to better serve men of color with beards is now part of a growing international portfolio of lifestyle brands.

Fresh Heritage, a personal care company that provides high-quality, chemical-free beard grooming products designed for men of color, was founded in 2017 by husband-and-wife team Gamal Codner and Natarcia Codner, along with Gamal Codner’s brother, Jamil Codner.

Four years later, the Atlanta-based company was acquired by e-commerce brand management agency Branded, which planned to scale Fresh Heritage’s distribution internationally, according to a press release.

While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, Fresh Heritage was bringing in 7 figures of revenue when it sold, Gamal Codner told They Got Acquired. The company had about 100,000 email subscribers, 100,000 monthly website visitors, and more than 50,000 customers, he said.

How Fresh Heritage innovated on men’s grooming

The brothers were inspired after a trip to northern Africa, where they’d found natural ingredients like argan oil, jojoba oil and sweet almond oil — ingredients now used in Fresh Heritage’s formulas. And they noticed gaps in the market for products that catered to Black men growing beards.

“I had products specifically made for me in all areas of my life, except for grooming,” Gamal Codner told Beauty Independant.

While he and Natarcia Codner went full time on the startup, Jamil Codner remained in a part-time capacity so he could keep his full-time job in sales.

Gamal Codner had experience working in financial services, and Natarcia Codner as a contracting executive.

Early on, Fresh Heritage’s inventory included three products: Shampoo Hair & Beard Wash, Condition Leave-In Beard Conditioner and Beard Oil. The founders leaned heavily into building a community, as well as paid ads, to grow the brand, Gamal Codner told They Got Acquired. That allowed them to get traction quickly, and they hit $60,000/month in revenue in the first 90 days, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Still, the biggest challenge for the bootstrapped brand was cash flow while scaling, he told us. The team remained lean, with two founders, one employee and a team of contractors, at sale.

They decided to sell because they believed the brand had the potential to scale globally, Gamal Codner said, and they needed a partner who had experience doing that. To find a buyer, they worked with brokerage QuietLight.

The selling process, Gamal Codner said, “was the most stressful thing I’ve gone through as a founder, but it was overall good. I had prior buy-side M&A experience, so I understood the process very well, but [had] never [before] went through it as an operator/seller… The buyer we selected had M&A experience, so we were able to close in under a month.”

The tough part, he said, was “managing two businesses at once: one, the one you’re running and two, the one you’re selling.”

His advice for founders hoping to sell? “Start planning for [your sale] 1-2 years before it happens. So much of how you can maximize your exit depends on the performance and decisions you make 1-2 years prior.”

Post-acquisition, Branded announced plans to take Fresh Heritage abroad, prioritizing the United Kingdom, Germany and France.

Both Gamal Codner and Natarcia Codner left Fresh Heritage as part of the acquisition, though Gamal Codner said he’s still involved in an advisory role. They now operate a new business together, helping e-commerce companies scale and sell, with a focus on companies earning at least $500,000 in revenue.

“Building a company together is a blessing,” Gamal Codner said. “We just had to get good at creating boundaries and not letting business spill over into personal and family time.”