Meet the Gen Z founders behind the leading men’s cosmetics company

  • Annelise Hillmann and Nick Bunn are the co-founders of the men’s grooming business Singer.
  • In January, the company closed a $1.2 million funding round led by venture capital firm Recharge Capital.
  • This is part of the Insider series”rising star” spotlighting early entrepreneurs.

Name: Annelise Hillmann and Nick Bunn

Age: 23 and 24, respectively

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Business: A men’s skincare and cosmetics company.

Past: As a teenager, Annelise Hillmann remembers a plethora of skincare and makeup options available to help treat and mask her breakouts. His friend Nick Bunn had a different experience: There weren’t many educational beauty blogs for men when he was growing up, and he often couldn’t find any immediate options for solving his skin issues, he recalls.

“Together we realized the grooming gap between men and women,” Hillmann told Insider. In January 2021, Hillmann and Bunn launched the Frontman Company, which provides men’s cosmetics and skincare products. Their mission is to “create this generation’s go-to grooming brand that solves men’s annoying pain points.”

Last October, its first product, a concealer to cover and treat acne, won the Esquire Grooming Award, which annually recognizes the best products for men. Past winners include hair brand Briogeo, skin brand Peter Thomas Roth and even Old Spice.

Bunn says it’s a great time to enter the global men’s personal care space, which was valued at $30.8 billion in 2021 by research database Grand View Research. Additionally, Gen Z is redefining the tropes that once defined masculinity — such as not wearing makeup or implementing a skincare routine — as more and more young men seek to exist in a world without judgment or stereotypes, he added.

“We have good winds blowing in our direction to help us change the narrative around what products can be for men and what culture can be for them too,” Bunn said.

FRONTMAN Ingrown Hair Cream

Launch of a new product by Frontman.

FRONT MAN


Growth: Frontman closed a $1.2 million seed round in January led by venture capital firm Recharge Capital. Other investors include Stila Cosmetics founder Jeanine Lobell and actor Nargis Fakhri, who has 6.9 million Instagram followers. It launched five new products this year, including an ingrown hair remover, razor burn pain reliever and sunscreen. Meanwhile, on TikTok, the company’s hashtag amassed 93.1 million views.

The company posted six-figure lifetime sales through April 2022, selling on its website and on Amazon, which Insider confirmed with documentation. This year, the founders expect to make $1 million in revenue by entering physical retailers and expanding the product offerings on its website.

Before Frontman: Bunn and Hillmann attended Harvard University and pitched Frontman while in college. Bunn graduated in 2019 and briefly worked for Anheuser-Busch before leaving to help run Frontman. Hillmann operated a college advertising agency before graduating in 2020 to work full-time at Frontman.

Challenges: Learning to run a direct-to-consumer retail business in college was difficult because the co-founders had to learn the nuances of manufacturing, credit lines, order quantities and international logistics, Hillmann said.

Trading tips: “If you see something in the world that needs to change, don’t wait for someone else to do it,” Hillmann said. “Making that first leap may be the hardest step, but it’s just one of the many challenges you’ll face on the Founder’s journey.”

Annelise Hillmann smiles at the camera wearing a brown jacket

Annelise Hillmann, CEO of the company, said Frontman wanted to give a “young and fresh perspective” to the men’s grooming market, which she called “boring” and “uninspired”.

FRONT MAN


Business Mentor: The founders count Lobell as a mentor and said she emphasized the importance of creating a great product and putting consumers first.

“It’s about what guys are looking for in terms of product formulation and marketing,” Bunn said.

Why is this the best time to start a business: “The pandemic has forced us to learn how to adapt, and adaptation is a vital skill for a founder,” Hillmann said. “If you’ve been able to roll with the punches and stay sane, you’re capable of starting something new.”

At hiring : The company currently has 10 full-time employees and plans to hire at least four more by the end of the year.

On managing burnout: Bunn and Hillmann turn to exercise to help decompress. Bunn enjoys playing water polo and Hillmann practices yoga daily.

“We realized that burnout is the number one risk to startup success,” Hillmann said. “We actively encourage our team to take unlimited vacation and sanity days.”

Donovan B. Sanford