A feature in GQ. Endorsement from a Premier League footballer. No, it’s not the latest Paco Rabanne cologne, or the Giorgio Armani A/W menswear line. It’s a little-known professional beard grooming company – that’s come straight out of Brighton.
EastWing Grooming Co was launched last September, just six months after colleagues Gary Easton and James Wingate came up with the idea after their own experiences of the beard oils, balms and potions on the market during an attempt at Movember. “I’d always had designer stubble, but then three weeks into growing my beard for Movember 2016, I noticed my face was really itchy, particularly on the neckline,” said James. “So I started looking at what was out there, trying to find beard oils to curb the itch. But my other half – who has been a herbalist for 25 years and runs her own company – then noticed some of the products I was using didn’t look right.”
After researching a bit about the background of these products, including speaking with aromatherapists and trade councils, the pair found out many beard oils currently on the market were not properly registered. “They said it was a huge issue. Because of the massive beard trend, lots of people are jumping on the bandwagon of creating oils and products. But you’ve got guys in their garages just throwing things together and selling it without properly registering it, and it makes you wonder: ‘what exactly am I putting on my face?’ So, we decided to make our own.”
To begin with, EastWing Grooming Co started as a solution to a personal problem – but it wasn’t long before others climbed on board. Once James and his partner had collaborated with an aromatherapist on their first oil, they started to share their concoction with friends and family. “It was a bit like Breaking Bad, the whole experience – so many beakers and combinations. We were just experimenting and trying to make the best product possible. As soon as we were happy with what we had made, we then got friends to try it, as we had made a little batch and had loads left over. Everyone loved it. People were telling us it was clearing their “beardruff”, and any issues they’d previously had.” Soon, even industry professionals were applauding James, his partner and Gary on their achievements. “I contacted a barber friend of mine who hasn’t shaved his beard since he was a teenager. It’s literally down to his stomach. He commended it as some of the best stuff he’s ever tried, so we thought ‘maybe we can go a bit bigger with this’.”
It’s the response – and the subsequent support – from their nearest and dearest (EastWing Grooming Co is a result of many of James’ and Gary’s friends coming together to help out), that gave the pair the confidence to approach Brighton and Hove Albion captain Bruno a mere month prior to their website launch. Going in without expectations, the pair simply sent their products – which by that point had grown to include two beard oils, two balms and a moustache wax – to the footballer to try. But they could not have predicted what would come next. “It was quite a pinch yourself kind of moment – especially for Gary, who has been an Albion supporter since he was 4. He’s a massive fan, he was so excited by it all. Bruno’s got an awesome beard, and he’s probably the most well-known person in Brighton with a beard, so when he told us he loved the products and wanted to share some photos, we decided he was the perfect person to be our brand ambassador.”
Bruno’s association with the brand sparked buzz around the time of the launch, with EastWing then being contacted by wrestlers, voice actors and other professional sportsmen all wanting in on the action. And then GQ called. “That was our dream from the get-go, really, to get featured in GQ. But that happened a month after we launched, so we’ve had to come up with new dreams!”
With two new oils and balms launched this month, as well as new and improved packaging, there’s every sign this pair of bankers from Brighton are on to a winner. Though this writer isn’t in their target demographic, I can’t personally say that I would use their products. But would I enjoy kissing a man who did? Absolutely.
For more details on EastWing Grooming Co and their product range, visit eastwinggroomingco.co.uk