We speak to founder of Britain’s first men of colour grooming brand Aaron of ‘Shear and Shine’ which is a business that has opened the gap even further for brands catered to individuals of colour to come into existence. Featured in Voice news, SBTV and Black Beauty Magazine, Shear & Shine began the journey in a barbershop based in Croydon. Read below for more.
1) When did you first spot the gap in the market for grooming products for black men?
It was during my time running the Shear & Shine Barbershop in Croydon, which I opened in 2013. I noticed a lot of my customers would ask for advice on certain issues and for specific product recommendations.
I often found it challenging to direct them in the right direction because there aren’t many options available to us, especially in the mainstream market. Women are in that respect spoilt for choice, whereas us men have to pick from a very small pool. This is when I realised that it might be an idea to launch something that would cater to these needs. To be honest, I’ve always had the vision of launching a range from before opening my barbershop but it wasn’t until I spoke to customers, that I realised just how much this was missing from the market.
2) So you started off in a salon, when did you decide that it was time to start selling in high street retailers?
Shear & Shine Grooming and the Shear & Shine Barbershops are two separate entities operating under the same brand so the idea behind S&S Grooming was always to get our products onto shop shelves. To make it accessible and easy for black men to pick up products that cater to their needs and address the issues they face.
We started selling in the shear & Shine barber shop and online because this was the best way to get our products out onto the market. We already have a strong clientele who repeatedly return to our barbershop so it only made sense to start selling to them first. Get some early feedback and build from there. However, since our launch we have received such amazing press and an overwhelming amount of people have shared our story. This has lead to some retailers approaching us to stock our products and accelerating our plans to enter the high street.
3) On your website you go into very in depth information about knowing your hair type/texture. Why do you feel this is important for black men to know before picking out a particular product?
Being able to make an informed decision about your hair and skin care is essential to maintain it’s health. It’s the same as knowing what nutrients and vitamins are good for your body or what shoe size you are. We are all different and knowing your own hair, its texture, its problem areas etc. helps you figure out what needs to be done to improve or maintain it. I notice that a lot of us men are in the dark about our own hair. We know when to get a haircut but that’s about it. Whereas women, spend a lot of time understand their hair, the products that are needed and the hair care routines that will make a difference.
We too want good hair, good hairlines, thick beards etc. and I think understanding our hair is key to that, which is why we place emphasis on educating our clients too. I often talk to customers about their hair and find that many appreciate the information.
4)Congratulations for having your products recently stocked in XSandy’s. How did that all come about?
Thank you very much. That came about because I saw her story being shared on Facebook and felt compelled to reach out to her. We had a lengthy conversation over the phone and then met in person at her shop in Lewisham Shopping Centre.
I was very impressed with the layout and the look. Following the meeting, she agreed to trial our products in her store which was obviously great news for us.
5)What are your current best sellers?
Our three best sellers are the Regal Bear Oil, which has also received great positive feedback from customers who have been using it for a while. Our Argan Infused Shampoo, which as the name states contains argan oil as its key ingredient. Then our third best seller is the Cleansing & Softening Conditioner, which has Tea tree as its key ingredient.
6)You spoke briefly previously about being in conversation with other retailers to have your products stocked. Where would be the ideal highstreet/highend store for your brand to be purchased?
I have big ambitions for Shear & Shine Grooming. At the moment we are in a few retailers in London, including a very chic men’s wear boutique called Grey’s which is also located in Lewisham.
In addition to this we are also stocked in a French retail store called Beauty & Soul. located in Amiens.
Ideally I would like to see our products in Boots at some point. I think they have the high street presence that would provide our customers the accessibility we aim for.
7)What are the future plans for Shear and Shine?
I plan to add another location for the Shear & Shine Barbershop in 2017 and continue to expand across London. For the grooming range, we plan to enter more retailers and continue pushing our brand onto the mainstream market. We are also working on exciting things like developing a range to tackle ingrown hair and our monthly subscription service which will allow our customers to receive products straight to their door every month.
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