Twelve years ago, Curran Dandurand was on a flight from Dallas to New York when she started brainstorming names for her soon-to-be-launched company. The skin-care concern would cater to men, she knew, virtually creating a market segment that didn’t exist at the time.
Dandurand kicked around some Millennium-themed names and other ideas, but none stuck. She wanted it to be easy to remember and not embarrassing for a man to say out loud. “ ‘Jack’ is American,” she remembers thinking. From there she added the rhyming last name “Black,” and a market phenomenon was born.
Since its founding in 2000, Carrollton-based Jack Black has skyrocketed into the public consciousness, anchoring a men’s cosmetics industry that some estimates place at $2.6 billion. Close to 30 percent growth in 2012 has spiked the company, which had low-double-digit growth even through the Great Recession.
Jack Black began by supplying its cleansers and lotions to golf and country clubs, focusing on a target market of active, affluent men. The first retailer to stock Jack Black products was Stanley Korshak; after that came a single Nordstrom location.
Dandurand previously worked at Mary Kay Cosmetics for 17 years, climbing to the position of executive vice president for global marketing before leaving in 1998. “We knew there was an opportunity,” she says from Jack Black’s industrial-park headquarters. “There weren’t many quality products for men, so for us the most important thing was to make him feel masculine without a lot of hype or fluff.”
“Approachable, comfortable masculinity,” suggests Patricia Finn, vice president of marketing, describing the brand.
Jack Black now has nearly 50 products, and the walls of the company’s hallways are lined with testaments to its reach. TV satirist Stephen Colbert tells Jack Black to “Stay Brave,” while Ashton Kutcher breaks the time-space continuum by claiming the company has kept him beautiful since his birth in 1978.
Along with co-owners Emily Dalton and Jeff Dandurand, her husband, Curran oversees 35 full-time employees, plus nearly 50 part-timers. With success have come the inevitable overtures from other brands. One rival recently ordered five dozen Jack Black products, in what Finn calls an attempt to identify their ingredients.
Then there are the sales pitches from suitors. But, “we like being independent and focusing on the things we find important,” Curran insists. “I didn’t start this company to sell out and be a billionaire.”