By Je’Don Holloway Talley
For the Birmingham Times
Don’t underestimate the number of men who take advantage of cosmetic grooming at health and hair events. Jaret Patterson and Jason Hawkins, co-owners of Respected Roots, an Atlanta-based men’s cosmetics grooming line, said their product has an undeniable demand.
“We know there’s a market here for us in Birmingham because we’ve had to restock our shelves about three times today,” said Patterson, one of more than 100 vendors in the Magic City earlier this month for the seventh annual Natural Hair and Health Expo, which drew thousands to the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC).
Hawkins said his military career inspired his journey into men’s cosmetics.
“After I got out of the military, I said I would never shave [my] face again unless I wanted to, and I also would never work for anyone else again but myself,” he said.
With those as goals, Hawkins returned to school to earn a master’s degree in information systems management and branding. When he embarked on his business venture, he faced several barriers surrounding men and cosmetics.
“First, we had to convince men that they need to upgrade their grooming by using men’s moisturizer and beard conditioner,” he said.
When educating male customers about the importance of skin moisturizer, Hawkins said, “I’ve used regular lotions before, and what I noticed is that our melanin absorbs it quickly and [leaves the skin] ashy after applying it. We found that cocoa butter and shea butter work better for our skin. So, we infused those [ingredients] with natural antiseptics and natural antibiotics, plus natural oils that kill bacteria on and regenerate our skin.”
Affordability was a major factor in pricing their brand, said Patterson and Hawkins.
“We wanted to make sure it was affordable for everybody, so anybody can use it,” Hawkins said.
During the recent Natural Hair and Health Expo, Christopher Albritton paid a visit to the Respected Roots Men’s Grooming booth and came away pleased.
“[Respected Roots] really has something to offer, so I’m going to patronize the business,” he said. “I’m going to get some of their Tropical Scent Beard Conditioner; it [contains] a moisturizer for your skin … even your head, that can be used after shaving.”
Patterson said men need grooming education and product tutorials: “Men stop getting grooming advice at a young age, so we want to give the guys some tools on how to care for their skin and beards. We’re helping to rectify that situation [within the male community] as a whole.”
Hawkins added, “We have to teach the men that purchase from us about their skin and why it’s just as important for men to groom. We teach them how to use our products.”
Tiffani Brown, an independent female barber, said she also has noticed an increase in business from males. While working in the Men’s Lounge at this year’s Expo, she said she did more haircuts and edge-ups than she can remember, and she hopes to have pulled in some additional clientele.
“That’s always the goal,” said Brown. “I ran out of [business] cards. … That’s always a good thing.”