Huron’s Matt Mullenax On Using Vulnerability In Your Brand’s Marketing

Hear how the Huron co-founder’s greatest insecurity turned out to be the skincare brand’s greatest marketing asset.

Matt Mullenax was always shy about his (as he puts it) “severely bad skin.” For years, his acne scarred his confidence. (It didn’t help that one boss told him they had to send another less qualified representative because of his appearance). 

This experience (unfortunately) is not unique. And with few effective and affordable skincare products available for men, Matt founded Huron

Today, his clear skin and newfound confidence prove that his products work. And his story is a driving force in the brand’s insane growth. 

In this episode of The Checkout, Matt shares how Huron built a customer-first experience built on vulnerability. Tune in to learn:

  • Huron’s #1 marketing strategy for winning customers’ trust 
  • How a “finish-line first” mentality grows Huron’s bottom line
  • The pros and cons of focusing on acquisition vs. post-purchase CX
  • Why humanizing your brand attracts new customers (and how to do this)

Tune in on: Apple | Google | Spotify

"Whether it's communicating pain points, talking about the brand background, sharing our individual stories, or championing wins, I think people gravitate towards that [kind of vulnerability]."
Matt Mullenax, co-founder & CEO of Huron

Meet Matt Mullenax

Matt Mullenax is the co-founder and CEO of Huron. Growing up with severely bad skin, Matt had an up-close-and-personal understanding of the shortcomings of men’s skincare products available on the market. That’s when he decided to create a premium skincare brand for men without the premium price tag.

Before focusing all his energy on Huron, Matt earned his MBA at Stanford and has spent several years in investment banking and private equity. He also spent the early days of his career at Bonobos, where he learned what it really means to build a brand around the consumer. 

Connect with Matt on: LinkedIn | Twitter 

About Huron

Huron is a men’s brand offering affordable, high-quality personal care products. One co-founder (Matt Mullenax) knew from personal experience about the struggles of growing up with skin issues. While the other co-founder (Matt Teri) built products for the world’s most prestigious brands.

In 2019, Huron’s co-founders teamed up to build a best-in-class product, knowing their complementary skills would help them reach their business goals. Together, they have scaled Huron to offer world-class products at down-to-earth prices. All while staying true to their mission “to create high-performing personal care to help you look out for the guy in the mirror.”

Learn more about Huron on: Website l Linkedin

The Checkout episode 13 unpacks:

In this episode, Matt shares how their customer-first strategy has allowed them to create a show-stopping product experience that ensures high customer satisfaction. Here are the highlights:


The origin of the name "Huron" and their mission

  • Nothing helped clear Matt’s acne other than overpriced skincare products, which wasn’t acceptable
  • “Huron” was the name of the street where he lived in Chicago when his skin was at its worst
  • During his private equity consumer role, he learned that men are overlooked in the skincare market and wondered how to bridge the gender gap in skincare
  • “When I find something that works, I have this light bulb moment: Why does this cost so much? And why is this such an elitist purchase? Why can’t it be brought down to a much broader base?”

How the Matts came together

  • Huron was co-founded by Matt Mullenax and Matt Teri in 2019. They met in New York and found their skills complemented each other
  • Matt T had spent 20+ years in product development, having worked for several skincare brands such as Estee Lauder, Tom Ford, and Lab Series
  • Matt M had a personal understanding of ineffective skincare products
  • “We teamed up in 2018, spent the rest of 2018 and 2019 building products, building the brand, and raising a little bit of money. Then, we launched on July 29, 2019. So it was just the 2 of us for about 6 months.”

The right time to launch a show-stopping product

  • The right time to launch a great product is when it’s a 12 out of 10
  • Some folks launch quickly and iterate to get a 10 out of 10 product. Huron took a year to develop a 12 out of 10 product so the customer would fall in love with it in the first interaction
  • “Let’s create a show-stopping product literally from launch. We’re going to get one shot, and we want that wow experience to happen from the time we launch so that this guy comes back to us for the next 5, 10, 15 years.”

Prioritizing retention over acquisition

  • By strengthening the core pillar infrastructure on the backend, they improved their retention rates and repeated sales
  •  “How can we roll out the red carpet such that the post-purchase experience is amazing, the shipping is fast, the fulfillment process is amazing? And that we have a high degree of conviction that this person, this customer, will love the product?”

Driving repeat purchases with broader CX

  • Matt M was inspired by the high level of customer service experience at Bonobos, so they focused on all things customer experience at Huron (including post-purchase flows and response times to fulfillment)
  • “Fulfillment is something that’s neglected by lots of folks within the DTC world, but that’s basically the last consumer touchpoint you have right before the product is in hand. So we put much time and consideration into that piece of the puzzle.”

The humanization of the brand

  • Huron’s brand voice is relatable: “Hey, we’ve been in your shoes, and like, here’s what we did about that.”
  • Humanizing their brand means sharing the ups and downs and revealing what happens behind the scenes in manufacturing
  • “Hey, behind the scenes, there’s a team of 5 that’s working hard to grow this thing. And whether it’s communicating pain points, talking about the brand background, sharing our individual stories, I think people gravitate towards that.”

Keeping a close eye on the cash conversion cycle

  • Their goal is to chop lead time and marry that with the cash conversion cycle
  • “When you think you have everything buttoned up, there’s always a chance for something to go haywire a bit. Can we buy or invest in components to store stateside? Because that’ll trim off X number of weeks, lead time that alleviates any port congestion.”

Growing the bottom line with a "finish-line first" mentality

  • CX has been seen as reactive, but there are ways to be proactive by anticipating questions and pain points
  • “So maybe you live in New York, and there was a crazy snowstorm a few weeks ago, and things are getting caught in Philly. Can we then reach out to those people and say sorry, we’re happy to resend your order?” 
  • Manually reaching out to build personal connections will require a heavy lift upfront, but the payoff is priceless in the long run

The most gratifying part of the job

  • At Huron, a lot of customers share their positive skincare experience making CX wins the most gratifying for Matt M
  • “I think the granularity of understanding the actual differences that we’re making in people’s lives in a category that’s not really talked about. That type of win is something that really hits home for me.”