SPY Makers is a new conversation series where we sit down with inventors, designers and entrepreneurs to talk about their work. In this story, SPY writer Jacorey X. Moon spoke to Tia Cummings at Bevel on why the brand so crucial to Black men and the Black community.
In 2013, Tristan Walker started Bevel — a grooming brand that caters to the coarse, curly hair of Black men. To quote the man himself, Walker created the brand because, “As a Black man, I have a different hair type. I have a different skin type. And those needs should be respected.” For Walker, there wasn’t a dedicated product line that dealt with the skin irritants Black men face because of their kinky hair texture. The Atlanta-based company takes its initiative of supporting Black men and the overarching Black community very seriously.
First, Bevel offered its signature Beard Shaving System — which remains a bestseller to this day — and it became wildly popular with its target demographic, as advertisements for the system flooded podcasts and Google suggestions alike.
Another staple for the brand is the Bevel trimmer, which is electric and strives to make the shaving process easier and quicker. The trimmer helps fight against the razor bumps and ingrown hairs Black men are prone to with a wider-set T-blade that allows for quicker cuts and more precision.
Now seven years after its inception, the Bevel brand offers several products — from beard oils to body lotions and exfoliating soaps to toners and face serums — and continues to come up with unique products for Black men. The ease of Bevel’s products is what makes the brand such a mainstay.
To find out more about Bevel and its approach to skincare, haircare, and everything grooming, I chatted with Tia Cummings, the VP of Marketing for Bevel, over the phone. We spoke about the company and the customers’ response to the products offered by the brand. Before coming to the Walker Company (which owns Bevel), Cummings managed marketing for other iconic brands such as L’Oréal, Johnson & Johnson and Kellogg’s.
Take a look at our conversation below and visit getbevel.com to cop some of our favorite products.
Some quotes in the article have been lightly edited for clarity.
First, I would like to know, why was Bevel started?
Bevel was started in 2013 because our founder, Tristan Walker, believed that Black men deserved better. He was tired of feeling like a second-class citizen when he went shopping for grooming products because the majority of existing brands weren’t designed with Black hair and skin in mind. So, he decided to create his own brand, and it started with the Bevel Shave System, which was designed to eliminate razor bumps and irritation for men with coarse and coily hair. The brand has since expanded from there.
That’s pretty much why I was tuned into the Bevel brand and why I started using the products. You already talked about it a little with your first answer, but what type of products does Bevel sell?
Today, we have really a full head to toe portfolio of grooming products that are designed specifically for Black hair and skin. We started with the Shave System, and now we have full regimens for face, hair and body. Our goal is to be the only brand that he [Black men] needs in his bathroom. Given that our hair and skin tend to be dry, we ensure that all of our products are highly moisturizing and made without those harsh drying chemicals.
I know the struggle of drying hair and skin products. What are some of the customers’ favorite products?
We get a lot of positive feedback. Our Legacy Shave System, right where we started, is really popular because it is so effective at preventing razor bumps and irritation, and another big item is our Bevel Trimmer. It has a unique, sleek design, up to eight hours of cordless battery life, and one of the sharpest antimicrobial blades on the market. So, it’s perfect for those really sharp lineups. And actually, for the holidays, we launched a limited-edition black version of the Bevel Trimmer to go alongside the silver and that has been a really hot seller so far this holiday season.
But if I go beyond the hardware, men love our exfoliating body wash and our 24-hour moisturizing body lotion. You only have to apply it once and it’ll keep you moisturized all day. They also smell really good, and personally, I’m a fan of our aluminum-free deodorant. That’s one of our products that I sell because it provides 48-hour odor protection. So, we just have such a broad portfolio. There are so many products that people love, but I’ll stop with just those five.
So, my next question is a pretty important one as we’re still dealing with the aftermath and the long-term effects of COVID. But I wanted to know, from a business perspective, has COVID impacted Bevel in any way? And if so, how?
Yes, but probably not in a way you were expecting. As a business, we actually saw sales growth, especially during the early days of COVID, because barbershops were closing down, and men were focused on doing more of their own grooming at home. But, as a brand, we felt an obligation really to support those in the community who were more negatively impacted by the pandemic.
I’m glad to hear that Bevel is doing things like that, it’s admirable. So, a pretty simple question. Where is Bevel sold, and where can consumers find your products?
We’re available in a variety of places, you can purchase them at Target and on Target.com. You can also find a selection of our products on Walmart.com and Sally Beauty. You can always find everything Bevel on our website, getbevel.com
How is Bevel marketed to the public?
We take a 360-degree marketing approach. So that includes multiple channels like PR, and interviews like what we’re doing right now. It includes influencers and paid media like social networks, digital radio, and online video.
What is your favorite part about implementing the marketing for Bevel?
As a Black woman, it feels really good working on a brand that supports Black people. We make these amazing products that work well for our skin and hair. We’re doing so much good in the Black community. It just goes back to the mission. I’ve worked in marketing for a long time. I worked at a lot of big companies but being able to work on a brand that has such a strong mission of supporting Black people is something that makes me enjoy the work that I get to do every day.
I saw the press release for the “Created for Kings” campaign. I love this idea. How did you and the Bevel team come up with this idea? Did you feel like it was crucial for the times we’re in?
It’s a really simple message. In a world that doesn’t always respect or appreciate the greatness of Black men, Bevel sees Black men as kings, and our goal is to help them look and feel their best every day. We think it’s a really powerful message that needs to be heard, and it has been resonating positively so far. We’re proud to be sharing all of these positive images of Black men in the media because we think it’s something that the world needs to see more of. We are an Atlanta-based company, and we were the first to contribute to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ Strength and Beauty Fund that she set up to help support barbers and beauticians who were struggling during the shutdown.
We also partnered with Urban Prep Academies in Chicago, which is an organization that helps all-minority boy’s high school in lower-income neighborhoods. And we provided laptops to their student body to ensure that they didn’t fall behind once schools closed because that’s something that Black students tend to be more at risk of. They don’t have the access to the materials that they need to be able to continue learning at home, and we wanted to combat that.
Also, Bevel partnered with Headspace, which is a mindfulness and meditation app, and we provided a free subscription to anyone who needed help navigating these stressful times, no strings attached. We take our mission of supporting Black men and the Black community very seriously. And given how 2020 has really impacted our community so harshly, we were compelled to take action in all the ways that I mentioned.
Is there anything else that you would like for me to mention?
Stay tuned. We’re continuing to grow and launch new products that we think our consumers are looking for. So, we’ll have a slew of new items coming in January. Be on the lookout.
Bevel has a large offering of products and that can sometimes be daunting for the guy that’s starting to get into skin or hair care. Here are some of my favorite products that Bevel offers:
Bevel Shave Kit
This is the kit that made me a Bevel customer and supporter. It can help you shave your beard without creating razor bumps or ingrown hairs. Not to mention, the products, especially the restoring balm, leaves your skin nourished and smelling great. The kit includes a safety razor, priming oil, restoring balm, shave cream, shave brush and 20 blades.
One of Bevel’s most popular additions to its product lineup is the Bevel Trimmer. The trimmer is cordless and provides up to eight hours of sharp cutting and shaving. It also repels dirt and buildup that can cause skin irritation. Also, this trimmer comes with the ability to offer 360-degree non-slip handling, and it runs cooler than other trimmers, so it won’t provide the annoyance of overheating and burning your hands.
Bevel Body Essentials Bundle
My favorite items offered by Bevel are its body products. This bundle comes with the body wash, exfoliating bar soap, aluminum-free deodorant and body lotion. There are a variety of scents that you can get for the bundle, but each scent will make you smell good and feel good. Also, I think that buying all of these essentials in a bundle is smart and will save you some money in the long run.
The 2020 Man Awards: SPY Editors Pick the Best Men’s Products of the Year From Hell