By Adee Phelan, celebrity male hairdresser and serial beauty products entrepreneur
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t feel that different for me. As a hairdresser, you get used to managing yourself and your career direction from an early stage. You take chances and some pay off. I had my breakthrough moment when I gave David Beckham that, now famous, mohawk for the 2002 World Cup. That really helped establish me as a hairdresser in my own right. I think entrepreneurship is a similar story really. You work hard, you take chances, and you keep looking for that big break to put yourself on the map.
This is certainly the approach I am taking to launching my new product range. I’ve specifically designed the products for men as I think they’re looking for something quite different from women – so taking a female product and simply adapting it for men doesn’t quite work.
The idea came to me when I went to the British Hairdresser of the Year Awards, in about 2004/2005. I was waiting for a limo to arrive with my mates and, just before leaving the house, I put a load of coco butter through my hair to give it a bit of structure and gloss. I’d done it before and didn’t really think much of it, but in a room full of professionals I got a lot of compliments. I knew that I wanted to turn it into my own range, but the time wasn’t right ten years ago.
It’s taken more than a decade for me to develop a full range of hair products that men will be really excited to use. It’s also taken that long for the male grooming market to mature. And that’s been the real challenge: understanding what men want from grooming products.
Ten years ago, it was impossible to even have a discussion about men’s hair products. Shampoo was entirely aimed at women and styling products were limited to gel or wax – no other hair products really existed for men. If I’d launched a range of specialist hair products for men at that point I’m sure people would have thought I was mad.
But slowly, the conversation has moved. I’ve been able, through hands-on experience and meeting a lot of people in the industry, to find out what exactly men are looking for in hair products. Over the same period, male grooming has become much more popular, hitting a major growth spurt in the last few years. All of this has led to a greater demand for more product choice for men as well as products specifically created for men.
For example, there has been a lot of hype around preserving natural hair oils, particularly by doing away with shampoo. As anyone who’s tried it will tell you, your hair looks great and feels super soft, but it does feel unclean and can smell pretty bad after a while. CoWash was created to be the best of both worlds. It has just 2% cleanser, so it leaves hair feeling clean without stripping natural oils away. The rest is a specially-formulated conditioner that locks in the natural oils while giving hair a nice smell. So, as it turns out, the biggest challenge was also the most useful learning exercise.
I’ve been keen to launch these products for the last few years, but I have been waiting for the right time. Men’s grooming has been growing steadily, but I wanted to know I was entering the market at the optimal time. In the last couple of years there has been a real change. The number of YouTube grooming tutorials for men has skyrocketed and a host of fashion brands and bloggers have popped up. The time is ripe. That’s why I am launching my new product range now, to provide these discerning men with products designed just for them.