BET.com’s THE GLAM GAP is a weekly video series spotlighting Black entrepreneurs and influencers in the beauty, fashion and lifestyle space.
Black men are often forgotten in the beauty space, but Tristan Walker, founder of Walker & Company Brands is dedicated to changing that. The health and beauty startup that’s home to Form Beauty and most notably, shaving brand, Bevel, is shining a light on the forgotten demographics of the beauty industry, and it’s done so in less than 10 years.
“Seven years ago when we started the company, we wanted to create a shaving system designed to help eliminate razor bumps and irritation for Black men,” Walker tells BET. “Now, Bevel is the first head to toe grooming solution wholly focused on solving problems in the personal care space for that demographic. I really wanted to build a brand of products that not only worked for us, but a brand that our community could believe in authentically and commit to.”
But Walker’s start didn’t come from beauty, in fact, it was in an industry quite opposite.
“Before Walker and Company was started, my background, at least for a short period of time, was in Silicon Valley in the technology industry,” he shares. “I moved out there in 2008 to go to Stanford for business school, I was 24 at the time. I saw that they were making millions of dollars and changing the world and I was like, ‘I have to be a part of this.’ I got the good fortune to work in my first year of business school at Twitter when there were about 20 people at the company. That was my first foray into this whole industry.”
Not long after, Walker transitioned to the company Foursquare where he spent four years before joining the venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz as an entrepreneur in residence. It was there that he spent nine months conceptualizing, which eventually led to the birth of Walker company. The business went into acquisition after just five short years.
“Five years after launch, we had the great fortune to merge with Proctor and Gamble,” he says. “They really saw that we were able to spread influence very quickly, while kind of leveraging technology to do it. It was something that a lot of the large consumer packaged goods companies hadn't caught up to yet. We were privileged by the fact that we were very early to the game, and authentically committed to really spreading that narrative.”
And while the beloved brand Bevel is for the most part focused on men, it wouldn’t be possible without women.
“Roughly 30% of our consumers are women,” he shares. “While a lot of that is gifting [for men], we also have women using our products themselves. When I think about issues related to things like shaving irritation, it's not a problem that's unique to men, women have that issue too. While Bevel is a brand wholly focused on the needs of black men, it serves the needs of others as well. Whenever women reach out to us and ask us if the product works for them, we like to give them an authentic answer.”
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But it’s one particular woman in his life that he credits with all of his success both as a businessman and as a father.
“Without my wife, none of this would be possible,” he lovingly confesses. “I mean that in the most deep, profound way. I've been with my wife for 15 years, married for going on 13 years in the summer. My wife has challenged me to be the best man that she believes that I can be. A man of prudence, one that’s loyal to his friends and community, one that is committed to community, and that has respect. Above all, she's challenged me to be the most temperate father.”
And raising two Black boys in these times, temperance is more important than ever.
“It’s both a privilege and a burden that should be respected,” he says. “I'm thankful that she's [my wife] joining me on that journey. As I get older every single day, I realize more and more, that we're just really one soul living in two separate bodies.”
And in teaching his sons how to be Black men, he also hopes to instill a strong work ethic.
“My being a CEO of this company has had a profound impact on my fatherhood,” Walker says. “I've talked previously about the story of when we were first in the Target when we launched, I believe it was February of 2016. It was such a great moment for me to take my son, who was two at the time. It was his first time at a retail store. It was such a proud dad moment for me.”
The real joy came when his son recognized his face while walking down the aisles.
“We go to the shaving aisle and get down the aisle about a quarter of the way,” he says. “All of a sudden I see my son point and he says, “Dad! Dad!’ So I turned around and I happened to be on one of the boxes. His first experience in retail was down this aisle with brands that are catered to his needs, that deserve to be there. He'll recognize that his unique needs as a consumer are served the right way. For me, that was the apex of impact for me when my son had that experience.”
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