Credit: Staying Uncomfortable
Mixing Friendship and Business, with Tedd Strom, Co-Founder of Chicago Comb
You have the power within to elevate your surroundings and pursue your passion. Get beyond the initial no which usually comes from within.
The co-founders of Chicago Comb, Tedd Strom and John Litwinski, have been close friends since the 7th grade. Although their lives diverged after high school, they found themselves together in Chicago, where a conversation in a condo changed the trajectory of their friendship and their lives.
The two were long been interested in creating something for the local community. From those early discussions, the idea for a beautiful, high-end men’s hair comb was born. There was nothing like it on the market. Indeed, metal combs, like a lot of other products, had disappeared from the market decades ago. Inspired by what they saw, they decided then to make modern, metal hair combs.
In 2010, Tedd Strom and John Litwinski co-founded Chicago Comb, a Chicago-based business producing and selling high-quality metal combs. Their company is dedicated to creating products that have timeless design, utilize artisan manufacturing practices, and are made locally. Like many one-of-a-kind products, Chicago Combs have a stylish cachet of a budding luxury brand.
From those early beginnings, they have expanded their lineup to include the only combs in the world made of pure American titanium, the only American-made carbon fiber combs, and leather sheath comb cases.
Tedd has said “We’ve always been really interested in manufacturing and doing it locally, but also really loved well-designed products. There was no other company in the world we could find who was making metal combs. All the combs around had no design elements. They were either basic, ugly or both.”
Some questions we ask:
- How was Chicago Combs born? (1:00)
- How did you study the trade of metalworking and craft behind comb manufacturing? (3:00)
- How did you deal with the anxiety around potential failure in today’s instant gratification driven society? (6:00)
- How did you take the leap from a part-time to full-time? (9:00)
- What advice would you give to tomorrow’s entrepreneurs? (10:00)
- How has your friendship with John evolved as you became business partners? (12:00)
- How did you feel when you created your first comb? (13:00)
- Can you walk us through how the usage of your combs depending on your hair texture? (16:00)
- What is your favorite comb? (24:00)
- What were your sales and marketing tactics for customer acquisition? (25:00)
- When did you taste success and rejection? (28:00)
In this episode, we talk to Tedd and learn how:
- He and John help people keep their hair coiffed.
- He blended his personal and professional relationship with John and proved the theory of ‘friendship and business don’t mix’.
- Amazing it feels to witness the product he conceptualized become a part of people’s special occasions and day-day lives.