Updated: Feb 16
Many beauty products are available for women; you can find anything from organic hand cream to cotton pads and even small shelves stocked with toiletries. However, if you are looking for similar items for men, you may find it hard to locate products that tend to the needs of a man's skin or products that focus on pampering men. Men don't always know how to pamper themselves. However, the messaging is changing. With Judith Dumorney McDaniel's help, more men are embracing the idea that there is nothing wrong with treating themselves because they deserve it too.
A Man's Cave was inspired by Judith's husband, who regularly frequents spas. Although they attend spas as a couple, her husband would attend them without her. Her husband noticed something that she didn't––that most of the spas catered to women. Their marketing materials and their aesthetics were predominantly feminine, which some men may not find appealing.
That inspired Judith to dig a little deeper on the issue. She spoke with her male friends, and she came to the same conclusion. There was no space for men. Frankly, men are often known to delay their health and rarely do they ever pamper themselves. Judith asked herself, "Just like men go to barbershops, what would it look like for them to go to a spa? Where everything was catered to them?" A Man's Cave caters to men who have never had a spa experience before. Therefore, men don't know what it looks like to get pampered.
"What would it look like if I created a space where men can come, they can get pampered while also taking care of their health identifying whatever issues that they have but in a relaxed, non-threatening setting?" Judith wondered.
The spa is the draw, but Judith offers the men an experience with her executive chef that teaches them how to prepare nutritious meals. The goal is to ease the comfort of men who are hesitant to focus on their health. Men have access to a homeopathic doctor, have screenings completed, and get their pH levels checked.
The original name was My Brother's Sanctuary; however, she received feedback from another entrepreneur who encouraged her to change the name to reach more men. She learned a name must connect to the consumer. So, when someone says the word, they immediately have a personal connection to it. So, she changed it to A Man's Cave, a pop-up spa where grooming and kings meet.
What are you most proud of when it comes to A Man's Cave?
"As a female, I was able to identify a problem that men actually have, but they don't talk about. But having the opportunity of coming to A Man's Cave, they have a greater appreciation and understanding of how important it is to have a total health assessment in a space that's pretty dope and for and about them. I really love that."
Judith loves seeing men advocate for each other, as many of her clients are referrals. She hopes by reaching more men; this stereotype that spas are for women will be a thing of the past. Judith said, "It's okay to have a manicure; it's okay to have your feet look good, to have a facial." The goal is for men to learn that their outer wellness is directly tied to their physical health.
What's the biggest fear you had during your business journey?
"It took me 20 years to conceptualize this entire journey because I kept using money or lack thereof as an excuse not to do it because everything requires money. And so for me, the fear of me not having access to capital really was a setback." When Judith looked for spa spaces, the fear of not having the capital to purchase space prevented her from moving forward with her idea.
But, that all changed when she met two women along her business journey. Judith received reassurance from them that gave her a new perspective on her business. They helped her reinvent herself and her business and gave her the confidence boost she needed to bring her vision to life. Although Judith still wants a brick and mortar at some point, she loves the pop-up spa service method because she saves money on overhead and allows flexibility that a brick and mortar cannot provide. Her first pop-up energized her and her customers. She rented an event space and thoughtfully recreated the spa experience.
Tell us about a significant setback you had in your business, and how did you recover?
COVID impacted A Man's Cave greatly. With the quarantine and COVID in-person event restrictions, Judith had to pivot immediately. She began to offer virtual consultations for her clients to gain access with spa associates, the chef, and the homeopathic doctor. The men continued to receive vital information for their health. Judith also has a skincare product line. During the virtual sessions, her associates teach the men how to use the products and answer any product related questions.
Describe what it was like preparing for the pitch competition.
After attending the Black Girl Venture's new chapter launch party in Philly, Judith became inspired to be a part of the BGV community. BGV provides founders who pitch in the pitch competitions attend a weekly pitch practice session to sharpen their presentation skills and delivery. Judith participated in the pitch practice sessions for two months. Her mentor Tanya Morris, a Philly Change agent for BGV, encouraged her to pitch in the Philadelphia pitch competition. Judith said, "I really wasn't ready, but I said I was ready." After she signed up, she had one week to prepare.
Judith shared, "What was great about pitch practice, I call them my pitch practice sisters. They all gave us feedback every week. I would take that information and make enhancements to it. And every week, they kept saying you just gotta get better and better. And then also helped me with my slide deck, I didn't even have my slide deck together."
When asked what advice she would give those who are looking to enter and win pitch competitions, Judith had this to say:
"Be passionate when discussing your business because it really will help others get excited when you're asking others to be the shark, to invest in the contest if you will. You definitely need to go to pitch practice so you can know the important elements of pitching. You definitely need to do your research when it comes to the numbers and be prepared to answer any questions that the judges may have. And lastly, you need––and this is a big one. You really need to have thick skin. You want to be able to embrace constructive criticism that comes with all the whether you like it or not because that's either going to make it or break it for you as to whether or not you'll move forward with pitching."
Judith plans to use the funds to hire an executive assistant to focus on other business areas. She plans to purchase more materials for her products. Judith is also focusing on partnerships. She will partner with companies that services men and the beauty schools to hire spa associates. Ultimately, her funds are going towards marketing, operations, and product purchases.
Support isn't always given to women of color in business; when has this shown and hurt or disappointed you the most?
Judith shared, "I think that sadly, again, when you ask people for support, they don't support you. You know when you're sharing your information for this pitch. I'm asking for people to help support me financially. They don't want to hear what you have to say, sometimes that can be disheartening. If you're building a network organically, that can be intimidating for some people. That's why I do love and embrace Black Girl Ventures because when one wins, we all win. That's the mentality. But that's not always the case for many of us. That could be a make it or break it if someone decides to continue on or not."
What's the most critical lesson you've learned about business, in general?
Judith shared, "You need to learn from your failures. You need to know that you're not going to succeed all the time. You need to know that you're not going to make all this money that you think you're gonna make when you open up your business." Judith used her own money to invest in her business and didn't see an immediate return. She said, "I had to bet on myself. I mean, that's the reality. I literally had to bet on myself, and every single time I said, 'You're gonna bet on yourself. You're going to take some big L's before you take some wins. So you need to be okay with that, and you need to be prepared'... I'm somewhat in a different space than some of my other colleagues because I work full time. I use my job to fund my dreams."
Judith said she decided to invest in herself and uses every dollar that she makes betting on herself. And despite experiencing many losses, everything is coming full circle for her, and all the hard work is materializing. She didn't see an immediate return. Judith said, "I invested so much of my own money. I didn't see the return in my investment. I had to bet on myself. That's the reality."
What's the biggest risk you've taken in your life thus far? And how did it turn out?
The most significant risk Judith took was paying upfront for spaces and staff without fully knowing if men will secure their spots. Whether one or ten men show up, she still has to honor her financial obligations. She has learned how to prepare for those losses by securing payments and changing her refund policies. "I had to think like a business person," Judith said.
What's the most exciting part of your business?
"Preparation, looking forward to seeing men that had never been to a spa before. Explaining to the spa associates, morning meeting prior to our guests arriving, and letting them know that many of the men are coming for the first time, so I really need you to make them feel comfortable," said Judith.
She had seven successful pop-ups. Watching the evolution of the business excited her. Through the pop-ups, she created a blueprint and duplicated everything that they did so that everything worked like clock-work. She gets excited in identifying locations and visualizing how the pop-up event will transpire.
Has there ever been a time that you wanted to quit?
Judith never wanted to quit, but there were moments where she wanted to pause because she wanted to make sure that she was doing the right thing. At times her nervousness and her fears got in the way of her committing fully to her venture. She also found herself stuck and wondering if it was too late for her to launch her idea. Then she would fixate on her competition, but then she realized no one was like her, and that's what made her unique. "Took a while for me to–– 'oh wow, they're not like you,' and it's okay if they are. 'You still have your own clients, and you still do something different.' That wasn't always my mindset."
What do you think the future holds for Black women entrepreneurs?
"Oh my God, this is our time. It really is our time. It is a great time to learn how to create something that you've always wanted to birth. And you didn't know where to start, and my suggestion is to just start. A lot of times, you want all the bells and whistles because you want it to be perfect, but what I've recognized is that time is of the essence, commit now and figure it out later. Everything else is going to fall into place, and it really, really does," encouraged Judith.
Three years from now, looking back, what would it take for you to feel happy about your progress?
For Judith, it's all about the follow-through. To be able to execute fully on her vision would give her great satisfaction. She would most like to create a franchise model where she has multiple man caves in various states. She hopes that her branding is so powerful that when someone thinks of a man cave, they think of Judy. She hopes to be the go-to person for men's spa services.
What do you think is an important skill or asset you need to be successful in business?
"One, you should have a vision. Two, what I learned is you need to have people that are smarter than you to help you execute your vision," said Judith. Having experts that can help you bring your vision to life will help you to go further than you could imagine. Judith says discipline is another important asset. There are many distractions, but discipline enables you to go from dreaming on the sidelines to creating something. Judith says you have to have those skill sets and those characteristics to grow your business and sustain it.
Owning a business while balancing a personal life can be demanding and taxing; how do you take care of yourself?
Judith takes mental health days because she recognizes when she's exhausted, she needs to sleep. She pampers herself by getting her nails done, taking herself out to dinner, or getting a massage from her spa associates. She enjoys doing these activities alone because it allows her to reflect on the day, reflect on what she's doing next, and the next steps for her business.
What is your favorite quote or mantra?
The secret of having it all is believing you already do.
What book or podcast would you recommend?
Podcast: David Shands Community, The Morning Meetup, David Never Sleeps and Sleep Is For Suckers
Book: E-Myth Revisited
What is your favorite app or business hack that you can't live without?
Name one food item you have a hard time saying no to.
Rice and beans.
What's next for A Man's Cave?
Judith will be part of the next Jetpack cohort, where she'll be working with Shelly as her mentor. Through Jetpack, she's going to learn how to scale her business. Judith plans to continue to build her brand and expand to become the go-to business for men spas. She is going to highlight her products. A Man's Cave will continue servicing her customers through her virtual consultations and product demonstrations. Lastly, she will focus on partnering with different organizations, such as fraternities and churches.