Annelise Hillman, CEO and Co-Founder of FRONTMAN, is building a skincare brand that gives men immediate control over their acne and normalizes the importance of self-care, regardless of gender.
Annelise and her co-founder started FRONTMAN when they realized how much of a gender gap there was between the types of personal care products available to men and women. It became clear that women had many effective options to choose from, while the selection available to men was slim. FRONTMAN is fighting this gap by creating new skincare essentials that change the way men look and feel in their own skin.
We asked Annelise about the importance of having a community as an entrepreneur, what she wishes she had known before starting her business, and what accomplishments she is most proud of so far.
Q: Tell us the story of how your business was founded. How and why did you start working on FRONTMAN?
A: My co-founder Nick and I met in college when we were co-founding a Gen Z ad agency. Together we realized we had polar opposite experiences growing up dealing with acne. I had my dermatologist mom and a slew of immediate and long-term solutions in my arsenal, while Nick had things like Proactiv, which he said wouldn’t show results for weeks. We recognized that there is a gender gap in education and product selection, which deters men from engaging in skincare and personal care in general. FRONTMAN provides men with new essentials that have both cosmetic and skincare benefits, to ensure that everyone can feel good first and look good second, regardless of gender.
Q: What problem does FRONTMAN solve?
A: Male grooming is outdated for our generation. Men have a myriad of skin issues like acne, ingrown hairs, and oily skin. And established brands have instead focused on reinventing the razor over and over again over the past 20 years. We’re solving men’s grooming problems with new essentials, ones that combine elements of traditional grooming, skin care and cosmetics for the next generation man. Each of our products is hyper-targeted to solve a common problem in 10 seconds. For example, our flagship product, Fade, treats and covers acne in seconds.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
A: I wouldn’t say that I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I’ve always wanted to create something that matters. I originally got involved in the life of a startup through branding and design, and this thinking about design ripples through many facets of my journey as an entrepreneur.
Q: What is one thing you wish you had known before starting your business?
A: Founder burnout is the #1 risk to business success. The Hustle culture may preach about being “always on” and “always hungry”, but that ultimately comes at a cost to you and your business. Prioritizing my own mental well-being has been a must in keeping the team happy, motivated and productive. I encourage all budding entrepreneurs to take time to rest and reflect on their work.
Q: We dare you to brag. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
A: In our first year, we won an Esquire Grooming Award for Fade, a product that we’re really proud to create for our community. Beyond recognition, I take pride in creating a product that positively impacts people’s lives. Clients tell us that Fade has changed the way they feel about themselves and even the way they live their life. That’s really what it’s all about.
Q: What did you learn about building a team and a support network around you?
A: A founder is only as good as her community. Our growing team is a group of like-minded, creative individuals who are driven to do meaningful things and have fun while doing it. I also wanted to surround myself with strong foundresses facing similar challenges who can be open and supportive of each other.
Q: What would you say to your younger self if you were to start your entrepreneurial journey all over again?
A: Looking back, I don’t see myself taking any other path. The creation of a company is the ultimate act of creation. It fills me with joy to see others benefit and rejoice in our work. To my younger self: you have the time and you have a vision. Breathe. Not everything has to happen today, and it won’t. Your vision is uniquely yours and no one can do it better than you.
Annelise is a member of dreamers and doersa private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through thought leadership opportunities, authentic connection, and access. Learn more on dreamers and doers and subscribe to their monthly The summary for the best entrepreneurial and professional resources.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.