One of the biggest things in beauty right now is men’s grooming. There are tons of companies popping up all over the place to help men groom their beards and generally keep them looking great. Les Industries Groom is a Montreal-based company started by three friends Julien Blanchard, Maxime Leclerc, and Etienne Côté. We’ve already had a chance to check out a few of their products and we have more on deck. In the meantime, Julien took the time to do our Makeup Most Wanted interview and tell us a little bit of their story and what they have coming up next.
Do you remember your first experience with grooming products?
I do remember my first time shaving. As a boy growing up, you know it’s one of these milestone moments of life. It’s acknowledging that your body has changed in such a way that you have to adapt how you approach it, and there will be no turning back!
In a way you’re prepared for it since shaving is such a universal (maybe I should say « man-versal ») action. You see it on TV and films (Home Alone features a great scene of how NOT to use aftershave!) Still there is a lot of unknown and expectations are high.
I think I was disappointed after that first shave; the way my father taught me was too quick, too simple and it seemed to lack meaning.
Shaving being such a harsh treatment on the skin, it turned out to be a painful experience that I would repeat only when I had no choice. It took many years of sporting trimmed stubble before I actually discovered how to shave the right way, with the right tools and products.
How did Groom get started?
Groom really happened by chance, and still today, we three co-founders are still surprised by how it happened, and how quickly it happened! I decided to grow a full-on handlebar moustache, and at the same time I met a new flatmate, Maxime, who had decided to grow a full-beard; that was just before beards and moustaches made their real comeback. We quickly figured out that there was some maintenance to be done… but no available products for it!
We found some online from the USA, but each moustache wax or beard oil/balm that we ordered seemed to be just a bit off: either the feel wasn’t quite there, or the fragrance not just right. Gradually we knew what quality products should be like.
It took Étienne, whom we met by chance in a cocktail bar, to throw the idea of making some products ourselves. Since we had other occupations and none of us any background in business management, it started out as a fun thing to do: registering a business, learning how to run it, enjoying the thrill of its growth. It gradually took more time in our lives, so we moved it into a commercial space and hired some of our friends to help with production. Now it’s a full-time occupation for us three and a part- to full-time job for 5 other people.
Did any of you have experience making any kind of shaving product before?
No experience whatsoever. We made dozens and dozens of tests for each product, changing dosage here, switching an ingredient there, tweaking the fragrance. In regular business thinking we probably wasted a lot of time developing the products ourselves since we first had to teach ourselves how to do it. However, it allowed us a solid slow-growth approach during which we as persons grew to learn and adopt our roles within the business. Now it allows us to stand in full confidence behind our products.
Do you have a favourite out of all the Groom products?
It’s hard to have just one favourite! I don’t have children but I can imagine it’s similar to being a parent: you love each child equally for who he/she is.
Since my arm is being twisted, I would have to say that I have a little something special for our old-fashioned shaving products: the aftershave splash and the shaving soap. They resonate with that moment when I discovered – over ten years after my first experience – the true pleasure of shaving with the right products.
With all the men’s lines around right now, what makes Groom different?
There seems to be a strong trend in marketing strategies for men’s lines. They tend to prescribe their vision of manliness by building their campaign around high-profile athletes, motorcycles, attractive women, etc. The psychology behind it has proven to be successful: you choose the products according to what you wish to identify with, carelessly subscribing at the same time to questionable stereotypes.
Since our approach is rooted in the use of traditional products, it made sense for us to foster a genuine, inclusive approach. Becoming a man is a thing that takes time, requires thought that turns into maturity, and grooming reflects that principle.
In our photo shoots we wanted to put forward a diversity of genuine men. Our models are friends or relatives that have a life story: cooks, artists, barbers, carpenters, fathers. They couldn’t be more different from each other, yet they share an essence of masculinity. This is what we want to put forward: be the best man you can be, whoever that is.
Are there any new products coming up?
This year has been a hectic one, with the development of 2 brand new products: a shaving cream and an aftershave balm. They will be the keystone of our shaving line, finalizing a chapter that has required tons of efforts. We’re also looking forward to offering a Trial Kit and a Gift Box for our shaving products, and some branded items (shaving brush, hand towel, dopp-kit) are on the way.
What’s the one thing you want people to know about Groom?
In the past few years, we have witnessed a deep and durable change in how men approach their masculinity. There seems to be a search for the authentic, digging out old traditions and tools in the process. We’re ecstatic to see this happening; our goal is to encourage this movement by providing products, tools and knowledge.
As a Canadian brand that uses natural ingredients, manufactures its own products and puts forward an inclusive image of grooming and masculinity, we strive to be recognized as a genuine agent in that new era.
* Les Industries Groom will have a new shaving collection available as of November 1st that includes shaving cream, aftershave balm and shaving kits. For more information on Les Industries Groom or any of their products you can head to their Les Industries Groom.