Meet modern mammals, a new kind of shampoo for men

by Stephen Garner

The story behind new men’s haircare brand Modern Mammals is a classic consumer story – the founder, Joe Moriarty, had a problem in his own life and couldn’t find any existing product that worked for his needs. “I was exercising every day and had to wash my hair, but never felt like shampoo or conditioner did what I wanted,” Moriarty tells MR. “So I really just needed a better product, and decided eventually that the big CPG companies weren’t ever going to figure it out, so I’d do it.”

“Back in 2015 I was an early person to go ‘no-poo,’ trying out homemade concoctions at home to replace shampoo,” Moriarty says. “Wes (the first employee here) was also trying to avoid shampoo too, and we realized there were a lot of other guys like us.” So, in January of this year, he launched Modern Mammals as an alternative to shampoo, designed for guys.

Moriarty tells us that the original idea for the shampoo was modeled after the “paleo’ concept – treating our scalps more naturally. “We wanted to protect the natural oils in our hair, and not harshly dry out our scalps,” he says. “Modern Mammals has a meaning specific to hair too – the mammal is defined (scientifically) by the presence of hair. Hair is our natural accessory as humans. It’s your unique signature to the world, so we want to celebrate guy’s hair too, and we wanted that to come across on the website and our social media.”

And, it seems to be catching on. After selling out of its first round of inventory during the height of the pandemic, the company is now set to ship the second run of production with an updated and improved formula not overloaded with chemicals, plus a new colorful bottle design.

But the road to success wasn’t easy, especially launching in a year riddled with surprises. Moriarty says that he felt the second-hand effect of an extra 1 billion bottles of hand sanitizer being produced because of the pandemic, which led to a bottle and ingredient shortage for several months. “Being a new brand launched in 2020, we had no inventory reserves either. So we had nothing to sell for months and barely survived. Luckily, we had customers writing in all summer telling us they needed more of our product, so their enthusiasm kept us going and we were able to take pre-orders and come back strong in September.”

At the moment, Moriarty isn’t planning on expanding to other products just yet. “We will offer reduced-plastic packaging and different sizes, but our focus is really on making the best single hair washing product we can. We’re also minimalists ourselves, we don’t want a multi-product routine, we want simplicity and convenience in our own lives as well.”