Tristan Walker is a Queens native, former Wall St. trader, a key player behind the Foursquare application and entrepreneur. He is currently developing a health and beauty company called Walker & Company, which will target beauty issues that plague the black and latino community. His initial product line is Bevel a shaving system meant for men with naturally course face hair.
The Source Magazine had a chance to sample and speak with the 29 year old entrepreneur. Here is what he had to say:
Q: What is Bevel?
Bevel is the first flagship brand under Walker & Company and Bevel is the first and only shaving system designed specifically for people with course curly hair.
Q: How does the design differ from other products?
All my life I wasn’t able to shave and there are really three ways I encountered hair removal and all of them sucked. The first way, I put a multi-blade razor on my face when I was 15 years old. When I woke up the following morning I was completely broken out and that was because multi-blade razors cut the hair underneath your skin and if you have curly hair its just gonna grow under your skin. The second was I learned it was going to the barber. He’ll use the same clipper he uses on everyone else’s hair on your face. Which, when you think about it is kind of disgusting, but also pretty harsh on your face. The last I learned it was what I did for about 15 years of my life and that was put a depilatory cream on my face. This stuff you let sit on your face for 6 to 8 minutes and it has all these hazardous chemicals but it removes the hair without you having to use a razor at all. I did that with out realizing that I was damaging my skin, burning my skin, and all that stuff. There just had to be a better way. What we set out to create with Bevel is that way. So, Bevel is a 6 piece kit formulated to fix this issue for men. The first hero product is the single blade safety razor and people have been using this for the past 120 some odd years. The reason a single blade razor works better than a multi-blade is because it cuts the hair level with your skin and also its just one clean cut. So if you think of a multi-blade razor the first blade will pick up your skin, the second blade will cut beneath your skin, the third blade will cut level with your skin, and when you get to like the fourth blade it make you breakfast in the morning and all that. A single blade razor just cuts it very level and very clean. We combine it with a shaving brush to exfoliate the skin, the blades, priming oil to moisturize the skin, a shaving cream thats aloe based and moisturizing with shea butter and a whole lot of other things, and then we have a restoring balm with a moisturizer. So it’s not alcohol based like a lot of the after shaves you might find on the market. The big difference between what we’re doing and what a lot of people are doing is we take a whole system approach for fixing this issue.
Q: Is this product for a specific group of people?
It’s really for anybody who shaves period.When you think about ingrown hairs, razor bumps, and that sort of thing it’s a big issue for African American and Afro-Latino. But it’s also an issue that 30% of white men have and it’s also an issue that women have. A lot of our marketing is geared towards the demographic that has the issue the most ‘black men,’ but it’s definitely an issue that all men have. And if you look at our customers, we have both men and women of all demographics using our product.
Q: Nas is an investor in your company. Can you explain how that collaboration came about?
Yes, Nas is a small investor in the company, really great investor, and a very smart guy. He was the first pitch that I ever gave about Walker & Company and specifically Bevel. At the time, I was in residence at Andreessen Horowitz; the venture capital firm. At the firm they would bring in folks and corporations, just individuals to learn about portfolio companies. It was one of the pitches he heard and he liked it and has been supportive ever since. Very very smart guy.
Q: What is your vision for Walker & Company and Bevel? What are some of your future goals?
I’ll start with Bevel then I’ll talk about ‘Walker & Company.’ So Bevel we decided to start that as our first brand because it was out of my own filtration of not knowing what to use. I didn’t have a father to teach me how to shave and that’s something that the community faces and I wanted to fix that. I wanted Bevel to do something larger than just a product that works. It’s also about the lifestyle and culture. Culture is just as important as education. It’s one thing to get the product, the next thing is to know how to use it the right way. I tried to think of instruction and all that jazz. If I did have that father to teach me sort of that right passage how would I want it articulated to me. I think that has been something that we have been able to unlock better than most in this space. So what does it mean for this future of Bevel? I think we just need more folks to know about it, more folks using it like yourself, the more folks use it, the more they realize it works, and there is a lot of skepticism about it. I get it, I was one of the skeptics in the past, but the product works! And when you use it a couple of times, you won’t want to go back and that’s the experience we want to afford everybody.
When you think about the future there a lot of stuff we can do for Bevel. We could come out with electric shavers. We could come out with a more focused product for women. Even though we have women buying our product now, we could see how we can make that experience better. We could open barber shops. These are things we are thinking about actively and probably should be considering. As far as ‘Walker & Company’ we have a pretty ambitious road here we like to say that ‘Walker & Company’ exists for one reason and that’s to make health and beauty simple for people of color and we’re going to develop brands that solve really important problems in the community. Like we’re not gonna make shampoo just to make shampoo and conditioner. We’re going to find a problem, fix that problem and tell a story and Bevel is the first manifestation of it. We saw this problem with razor bumps and not being educated about the right way to shave and we wanted to solve that problem and tell the story. This story is very much my story, but it’s shared by a lot of people. When I think about other problems in the community, I think about natural hair transitioning, Vitamin D deficiency, and various health issue that exist in the community. We are trying to solve a lot of these problems. We are trying to build company that last a very very very long time.
Our review of Bevel is on the next page!