As well as bringing great businesses and products to your attention, we will also be highlighting positive figures in our community. Whether that be inspiring fathers, thought leaders or successful entrepreneurs, you will see them featured on the publication.
One such man is Aaron Wallace, co-founder of Shear & Shine, the UK’s first black-owned hair grooming product range. Aaron, along with his business partner Lina A Mtengeti-Gadi, also owns a men’s haircare salon, based in Croydon and also called Shear & Shine.
As a professional Men, as Husbands and Fathers, our personal grooming is of utmost importance. That sharp haircut is what gives you that extra bit of confidence in a business meeting, it’s the first impression in an interview and it’s the icing on the cake that compliments a well put together outfit. That being said, I was keen to speak to Aaron to find out about his journey as an entrepreneur, the Shear & Shine brand and how the new generation of British Black men are now ready for a luxury grooming experience.
A socially conscious entrepreneur, Aaron grew up in South London and studied Music & Business at University. As a motivated and tenacious business man, Aaron previously set up a social enterprise, Start Young Global, which was a hub for young entrepreneurs to build with each other and connect people with like minded peers. Growing up with a strong sense of family, his father was the ‘ideas man’. Aaron wanted to build on this and take his own ideas one step further and actually turn them into successful businesses.
One such idea was to provide top quality service to black men who wished to receive a superior experience to the one currently being offered by the local barbershops. Priding themselves on providing a luxury and efficient service for their customers, Shear & Shine appeals to the modern Black British man. As millennials, we have greater expectations than our fore-fathers. We want to book an appointment online. We may want to get our hair washed and have a facial massage as part of the salon experience. And we definitely want to leave the shop with some products that were made specifically with us in mind, designed to pro-long that ‘new trim’ feeling and take care of our hair, beard and skin.
“There is a subtle movement of consciousness, Black Men are now businessmen and entrepreneurs with higher expectations. Shear & Shine is at the forefront of this movement.”
Speaking to Aaron I was not only impressed with his creativity and vision but also his willingness to put the work in and get his hands dirty. While doing lots of hands on DIY work to get the shop ready to launch, he shadowed an experienced barber to learn how to cut hair while focusing on building the business behind the scenes. A support network helped Aaron get through the initial stages of setting up the business, a lesson for any new entrepreneur – build strong personal and business relationships to act as your support network, you’re going to need it when going through the initial stages in starting your business.
Using Toni & Guy as a reference point, Aaron aims to offer a full grooming experience for his clients. As a result, Shear & Shine is the market leader for the superior grooming experience for Black men. They put customers at the fore-front of their business, treating them as valuable individuals. Offering an ambience you are unlikely to experience at your local barbershop, an online booking system for busy professionals and an all round welcoming vibe.
“Shear & Shine is redefining grooming for black men in the UK”.
Aaron noticed that a lot of black men were having the same issues with their skin such as dry scalp, dandruff and razor bumps. His customers were asking him about which products to use. Rather than recommend the usual Head & Shoulders, which clearly isn’t made with us in mind, Aaron recognised a gap in the market and decided to create the products his customers were asking for. At this point, Shear & Shine grooming products were born.
I was fascinated to learn about the process he used to create the products. Identifying the ingredients which combat the common issues black men face with their hair and skin, he used himself to trial ingredients and formulas. Aaron worked with a production factory to experiment with different formulas, eventually finding products that worked.
In terms of quality and branding, the Shear & Shine product range is up there with the most professional and established brands on the market. Due to the high standard of the products, the attractive and polished branding, Aaron and Lina’s likeability, and of course their undeniable talent for business, the brand has received widespread coverage from a range of high profile platforms.
“The campaign is successful because its about representation. This is a range of products made by us, for us.”
With a range that includes products such as Regal Beard Oil, Hair & body Shower Gel & Fix & Hold Spray, Aaron and Lina are currently selling their products online through their website, in some of the local black owned hair shops and of course in their salon. The next step is to get into the mainstream retailers. Moving into hair industry, Aaron is keen to give back to the community.
“The black hair industry makes billions of dollars a year and none of it is getting invested into our own community. A lot of the large brands we consume are not black owned. The food, hair and beauty industries are largely catering to the black community and we are just consumers. We need to create services and products that are better than what’s already out there and support each other”.
Aaron gave us an insight into the long-term vision for the brand. Similar to Toni & Guy, Shear & Shine will be people’s first thought when it comes to male grooming for black men. The Shear & Shine products will be cemented amongst similar brands in the mainstream retail stores and a chain of stores across the country will all be offering the signature luxury grooming experience.
After speaking with Aaron and Lina, I have no doubt that this vision will soon be a reality.
Find out more about Shear & Shine here: http://shearandshinegrooming.co.uk/
Follow Shear & Shine on twitter: @ShearAndShine