Could you please tell us what’s the story behind Bear Face and how you decided to create your own brand?
Its funny it all started kind of by accident, with two beards full of mud back in early 2013. Jimmy and Matt had been growing out their hair and beards for a Spartan Race as they wanted to look a little ferocious and feral on race day. After months of training in bogs, forests and rivers through the cold, wet winter they had the feral look down but needed cleaning up.
Unbeknown to us all, we had been separately looking for beard care products and were coming up short, there was very little on the market at that time especially in the UK. After a brief moan about the lack of mens products we started talking about making our own solutions. Ems has Aromatherapy knowledge in the family and Jimmy is known as a bit of a mad scientist inventor – so how hard could it be?
Its turns out pretty difficult. Evenings and weekends turned into researching, making, smelling, testing, binning and starting over. Hundreds of test vials later and we were starting to contemplate whether the beards warranted this much free time.
Fast forward to summer 2013 and we had four amazing beard oils. We were using them as part of our daily routine and our beards had never looked, felt or smelled better. We were getting a load of positive comments from friends and started joking that we could sell the oil. Then a light went on - we might actually have something here!
Fast forward again and we are travelling to London Tattoo Convention 2013 dressed in our newly printed Bear Face logo tees and armed with a bag of free samples. We were going to the show anyway and thought we'd combine our love of tattoo and alternative culture with a few days of inking, seeing friends and a bit of light market research.
We weren't prepared for the reaction, it went crazy. The light market research turned into full on assault and by the end of day one we were clean out of samples. Now we knew we had something.
Whilst waiting for the train home Ems created our Facebook and Twitter account, Matt bought our website URLs and Jimmy ordered packaging. We shared a bunch of photos thanking all the awesome new people we had met that day and started to plan what came next. By the time we got home we already had a stack orders via email and reality kicked in – we'd just started a new business.
Three and half years later and we are still making everything by hand. The setup is a little different to those early days but its just as fun and crazy. Ems takes care of business, Jimmy continues to make and Matt looks after the brand. We still love meeting new people and can often be found at shows or events, supporting other local businesses or on a crazy road trip somewhere fun.
Its not all just for laughs though. The three of us place massive importance on being innovative, researching, making, smelling and testing, that hasn't changed and never will. We believe any products we are using on our bodies should be super high quality, natural and should actually work the way they say they will. We're passionate about this in our personal lives and work hard to ensure that's the experience our customers get every time too.
We can tell you’re passionate about handmade products and natural ingredients, you’ve recently launched vegan waxes and balms…do you think that people start understanding how important it is to know what you apply to your skin?
We're definitely starting to see a change, especially among our male customers (without over generalising I think women have been more switched on to this and have had a larger range of products to choose from). We're getting asked more frequently about the ingredients we use, what they are good for and how the products can make a difference. The growing trend of buying local and independent is also helping as people are becoming more conscious about the brands in their shopping bags and what they are spending money on. Its great to see smaller brands making a difference in peoples buying habits and hopefully having an effect on health and wellbeing.
Having the opportunity to speak directly to people about their needs, allergies and sensitivities is another great way of promoting natural and learning more. We were trading at VegFest London recently and its obvious that there is a growing interest in all aspects of natural products whether its what you put on or in your body. Its great to see this shift occurring especially among the younger generations, they seem more switched on, more militant than I remember being as a kid (back then Lynx Africa was in everybody's gym bag).
You already do unisex products such as the Bear Face Hair Oil Treatment and Shave oil - any plans for a women’s grooming range?
We've talked about this a lot over the years and have developed a whole range of products and continue to do so. We only ever release something when we're 100% confident that its right so we have a lot on the back burner. I'd say stay tuned.
Also, we find labelling products as unisex is a great way of introducing new ideas to our customers. We already had lots of crossover with our male orientated products (girlfriends stealing beard oil as hair or skin oil etc) so we decided to make a feature of it. When we formulated the new hair oil we assumed mainly women would buy it, but after testing we found that guys with longer hair were just as keen - it appears Ylang Ylang is loved by men too.
If you had to use only one Bear Face product for the rest of your life, which one would it be (and why!)?
That's a tricky question as they are all brilliant (not biased at all) and all have different uses. For me it would probably be our Scoop + Shape Hair Pomade. It's a traditional oil based recipe thats 100% natural, vegan and devoid of petroleum products. Having tried so many of the popular pomade brands I found that they left my scalp in poor condition and feeling itchy. Like many I have sensitive skin and have to watch what ingredients I use, so will always opt for a 100% natural where possible.
Any exciting plans for 2017?
Yep, secret plans.
Finally (because we need to know), moustache or beard?
Discover the Bear Face range here!