Taun is a brand new skin care line for men focused on reviving skin from the stress and wear associated with the hustle and bustle of a successful man’s life. I was fortunate enough to review their product, and I know from personal experience how great this facial repair formula is. Throughout my discussions with co-founder Tom Devine, he revealed himself as a very interesting person with a great life story. I became interested to know more, so Tom gave me a few hours of his time to answer some questions.
Electrogent: First of all, introduce yourself to those who might not know you or your brand.
Tom: My name is Tom Devine. Andrew Hunt and I are the founders of Taun Small Batch Men’s Skin Care. I’m older than I look and I intend to stay that way.
E: What made you switch from law to skincare, and how has the change impacted you?
T: I had trouble locating a distinct path in law that I was passionate about, though I did appreciate the education. The experience and skills certainly help me, and Taun, at every step of negotiating and understanding how our decisions are affected from a legal perspective. Starting a company where I could be an integral part of building a brand, filling a market need, and engaging customers was ultimately more appealing and rewarding to me, but my law background helps me on a daily basis, if not how I initially planned.
E: Taun is a very unique name. Is there any special meaning behind it?
T: Taun is a majestic hardwood found in Asia, but more than anything we wanted a name that elicited strength without carrying any other connotations with it.
E: What do you mean by “small batch” men’s skin care?
T: Small batch was a term we borrowed from the bourbon industry. We took the philosophy of creating a product with a real concern and passion for seeking out the best ingredients available.
E: How long did it take you to develop your product?
T: From inception to launch it was the better part of a year with an inordinate amount of time researching the right ingredients and crafting the look, feel, and smell of the formula. We certainly could have spent less time, but alas, we are perfectionists.
E: Was there ever a point during product development when you doubted your success? How did you work through that?
T: We tend to analyze things ad nauseum – some would say overanalyze – so we’re always acutely aware of the negative scenarios. But that sort of preparation tends to lead us to the right decisions based on the information in front of us at the time, and we believe in ourselves and what we set out to do. Had we made millions in the gold rush or something that would be a nice safety net, but that can also lead to complacency.
E: What are your long-term goals for Taun?
T: We want to cultivate a small, loyal audience for the Facial Repair Formula and slowly release other products for a man’s arsenal, focusing on quality over quantity.
E: When someone asks what you do for a living, what do you say?
T: Depends on how long I want to talk to them! I find our American need to discuss what we do for a living fairly boring, I would much prefer to learn what someone’s interests and passions are, though if you are doing it right they will overlap.
E: Did you ever see yourself running a skincare line when you were a teenager?
T: Well in hindsight I probably should have beaten Proactiv to the punch…but no, I don’t think skin care of this sort was on my radar. Men operate on a need basis and after getting beat up by law school, playing golf competitively for years, living in China, and partying for over a decade my need for healthier skin has come on quickly.
E: What is the biggest problem with men’s skin care these days, and how would you fix it?
T: It’s a developing industry and we certainly need better products. I’ve always been very leery of marketing hype generally and I think the skin care industry is certainly an offender in that regard. We intended to bring transparency and quality, and we did.
E: What is the first thing you do in the morning?
T: Lately my wife to be and I have been watching “Way too Early with Willie Geist” from DVR while we get ready. 22 minutes to catch me up on what’s going on in the world so I can descend back into my Taun bubble for the rest of the day.
E: What inspires you to keep moving forward with your company?
T: The feedback has been tremendous and that keeps us grinding away. A lot of great ideas and products fail, but we think we’ve got a good thing with Taun and we aren’t going to let that happen. We’ve created one of the best products available to treat the signs of aging in men and it’s something people want and need. We just need to get it in front of the right audience.
E: If you were to start all over, would you change anything about Taun?
T: Honestly, no. As a poker player I just want to play my cards best I can with the information I have. Occasionally you’re going to have your Aces cracked. Same way here, we’re going to have things we can’t control go wrong, but we learn from that and adjust. Dwelling on mistakes is counterproductive. It’s how you recover and persevere that ultimately determines success. I read a fantastic book recently by Mike Sprouse called “The Greatness Gap” and he pulled a quote from David Livingstone that is fitting here: “I’ll go anywhere, as long as its forward.”
E: If someone wanted to do what you do, what advice would you give them?
T: Do it, but make sure you know what you’re getting into (which is the same advice I give for law school). You have to be a generalist and a specialist all at once, and you will have to quickly become adequately competent and informed about every facet of the business. And finding partners that you trust and will reliably execute are considerably more important than cost in the long run.
E: You’re stuck on a deserted island. You get one book, one album, and one movie–what are they?
T: I would lean towards replay value and keeping my spirits up. So The Big Lebowski, for sure, the Dude is an inspiration. An album I turn to when I am in a good mood is Amadou and Mariam’s Dimanche a Bamako. I don’t really know what they are saying most of the time but it seems fitting for an island. (I’m not trying to be pretentious naming an album most people won’t have heard of, I’ve just listened to it consistently the past 7 years, their backstory is fascinating and deserve to be famous!) And for the book probably Moby Dick, for its nautical themes and the fact that I just won’t find time to read it until I’m on a deserted island.
E: What are your hobbies when you can escape work?
T: I don’t know how unique I am in this regard but music, movies, books, and sports occupy a good deal of my free time. That’s something we want to incorporate into our brand is sharing some of our interests with our customers. We’re pretty confident in our tastes and enjoy bringing smaller, underappreciated nuggets to others.
E: What’s your favorite sport and team?
T: I grew up in Cincinnati and I would choose baseball over football with a gun to my head, so it’s the Cincinnati Reds. I’ve just always appreciated the pace, history, and nuances of the game. Spring optimism was high for the Reds this year (when isn’t it?) though the Ryan Madson elbow surgery news is at least a temporary bummer.
E: You get to spend the day with three men from history who came back from the dead–who do you pick?
T: I could think about this for far too long so off the top of my head I’d probably go with three writers who would keep things lively, interesting, and somewhat philosophical : let’s say Twain, Fitzgerald, and Bukowski.
E: What’s your biggest fear?
T: I’ve conditioned myself not to fear things I can’t control, which is most things that are truly fearful. But we all have things that keep us up at night.
E: Anything else you want to add?
My thanks to Tom for taking time out of running Taun to answer my questions. I strongly recommend you take a look at the Taun website to learn more about the Taun facial repair formula.
Now it’s your turn: what do you want to know about Tom or Taun? Post your questions in the comments below and get your answer from Tom himself.