Tristan Walker’s empire began in a totally relatable way — from an awkward teenage kid experience. We can all remember the first time we tried our hand at shaving. There were blades. There was blood. It was bad. And although it gets better as get older, we still could be doing it better. So Tristan started Walker and Company, and never looked back, putting his best face forward.
Walker and Co. is the parent company to a family of brands catering to common beauty and skincare problems that arise amongst people of color and beyond. The most recent brand is Bevel, a beautifully packaged suite of products designed for a luxurious, easy to manage grooming routine for men.
As Jet.com celebrates Black History Month by spotlighting CEOs and Founders of color, I chatted with Tristan about what makes Bevel the perfect grooming step system.
What got you interested in the beauty and grooming industry?
I started like anyone else, at 14 years old, using the wrong tools. I didn’t have a father who could help teach me, and I was at boarding school. It was just me at your local retailer, some gel foam in an aluminum can, and a multiblade razor. It took them all home, shaved, and woke up with a red, broken out face. I had no idea why.
80% of black men and women suffer from razor burn and bumps because their hair is curlier, and a multiblade razor wreaks havoc on your skin. That first experience of mine was so painful I switch to a depilatory cream, that smelled awful and is full of harsh chemicals and will burn your skin. I knew there had to be a better way, so we developed a collection of products designed especially to give you that smooth shave that actually improves your skin. Bevel was born out of frustration.
Walk me through the Bevel system.
We will keep expanding, but we have a unique shave system currently. We have a trimmer (which is the best trimmer in the universe) and a single-blade, double edge safety razor. We have a shaving brush to lather and exfoliate (exfoliation is so important when it comes to grooming, this unlocks any ingrown hairs and makes it a seamless shave). Our priming oil provides a protective layer on the skin. Aloe is the very first ingredient in shave cream, not water — that makes it extra nourishing. Finally the restoring balm, with salicylic acid and tea tree oil. The system as a whole is made for men of color who have drier skin and moisture issues.
What are some tips you like to give men who want to look more stylish?
Go to Bevel Code if you someone looking for easy to understand grooming tips. We started Bevel Code because there wasn’t really quality information on grooming for men of color. There was no place I could go who could show me how to line up my hairline and tell me about Kanye West’s latest Yeezy season. You can take ownership of what is going on with your skin, instead of letting the industry make these decisions for you.
People are always talking about getting “a great shave.” What that usually means is “close,” and infers the more blades, the better. But closeness leads to issues. A real great shave means that you don’t have redness, no bleeding. You wake up looking the same as when you went to bed. It’s easy for us to define, and help you through the process. In the end, style is all about confidence.
There is definitely a beard trend going on with men of color, and to be honest, I think a lot of men choose the beard because they are scared of having painfully shaven skin. They are basically giving up because they have had bad experiences and think it’s their only option. Bevel gives you the option of having any style you want.
How did you decide on such a chic, minimalist look for the packaging?
The look of Bevel was also born out of frustration, as a man of color shopping the aisles of stores looking for quality products and not finding any. The ethnic aisle (or rather, a bottom shelf usually hidden and dusty) always held products with cheesy images of a 60 year old man in a towel drinking cognac. I wanted something that would look nice on my sink and make me feel like I was treating myself to an experience, a humanness and an elegance. We want to help inspire confidence.
What are some other brands that you draw inspiration from or admire?
I really admire Estee Lauder, it’s such a wonderful company. Walker and Co. aims to own a suite of brands that all make sense as a family but serve lot of different parts of your life, just like the brands under Estee Lauder. They have always had a taste that is unique and compelling, with an inspiring discipline. They are always developing premium products, with a real truth behind them.