BOB MACLEOD & STEVE BYCKIEWICZ, founders of KISS MY FACE, have been together 38 years. They were legally married this spring; when they couldn’t ride their bikes to the gym due to heavy rain, they used their car, which they rarely do when wintering in Miami Beach, and while passing city hall, they decided to stop in and get married. That’s how Bob and Steve roll: casual, spontaneous, and without taking themselves too seriously.
You can tell they have fun by the names on their products— a moisturizer called “Filthy Rich,” a sunscreen labeled “Bare Naked” and shampoo named “Miss Treated.” A retailer once told them, “KISS MY FACE puts a smile in the aisle.”
When I asked the founders of Kiss My Face the key ingredient in their success, Steve said, “Love!”
They were in love when they decided to leave NYC and LA behind and settle on a farm in Upstate New York. Steve is an artist and a painter and he wanted the space to pursue his passion. To eat and make ends meet, Steve started growing vegetables that Bob would drive into NYC in an old VW and sell at local shops. “Steve has always been the talent and I’ve always been the salesman,” he said.
One thing led to another and they expanded from veggies to soap on a whim. One barrel of soap purchased from a shopkeeper turned into 10 tons, which grew to a successful line of over 200 bath and body products sold in over 19 countries.
They learned the skin care business along the way and had fun doing it. When I asked Bob what percentage of their time was work and what was fun, he answered, “Oh, we are fluid.” They don’t distinguish between work and play, and they know how to have fun, from flying their own plane to traveling the world, to turning business trips into a cultural adventures, or just a good excuse to catch up with friends.
Bob and Steve have experienced some setbacks as well. Early on, one of their biggest distributors nearly pulled the plug when a piece of plastic found its way into a bar of soap. After dealing with that potential public relations disaster, they went home, sat on their porch and quietly watched a mother fox teach her babies to hunt. This moment of wonder put in all in perspective. Their farm (pictured above) has always been their haven from work and a place to reset their priorities. They seemed to intuitively understand that it was important that they didn’t talk about work outside of work.
They continue to challenge themselves and come up with new ventures. Last year, they joined forces with a new company, Nova Scotia Fisherman, www.novascotiafisherman.com, a portion of sales of each product goes to support the Nature Conservancy of Canada.