It’s hard to imagine Tristan Walker with anything less than smooth skin.
As a teenager, the 29-year old Bronx native’s biggest skin problem was much worse than his peers’ acne.
Instead, he had razor bumps, a common skin issue that affects curly-haired men and four out of five Black men said Walker.
Razor bumps are trapped hair follicles that grow underneath the skin marked by whiteheads and skin discoloration.
After college, what bothered Walker the most were the shaving market’s out-dated, cheap-looking skin care products to treat razor bumps. One product in particular stood out in its appearance for featuring an old Black man holding a gin bottle on the label. (Bump Patrol came in second with its boring packaging that resembled a box of condoms.)
Walker had enough and launched Bevel in December of last year, a high-end shaving kit offered through mail under his flagship, Walker & Company Brand, specifically for skin issues that affect Black men.
Walker, whose name often circulates in tech discussions, unsurprisingly when highlighting the industry’s handful of innovative Blacks, is betting Bevel will break into a shaving market where 80 percent of Black men have razor bumps.
The shaving industry boasts an annual revenue of $13 billion through the help of lucrative, omnipresent brands like Procter & Gamble, Braun and Shick.
Walker hopes to get a slice of the shares, in an industry that’s predicted to reach $33.3 billion by 2015 according to Global Industry Analysts.
Smooth, Razor Bump Free Skin
Bevel, with a focus on precision and care, is the first five-part system that’s clinically tested by dermatologists to reduce razor bumps. When used correctly, claims Walker, men will notice smoother, irritation-free skin.
The culprits of razor bumps, according to him, are multi-blade razors that break the hair beneath the skin.
“Most of these shaving issues are a result of using the wrong grooming tools and products,” said Walker. “Using the wrong product can cause curly, coarse hairs to curl back into the skin. [That] causes major damage like ingrown hairs. That’s not a good look.”
Once Walker began pitching Bevel to investors, a few curly haired white men and Black men took notice.
Most notably, heavyweight investors such as venture firm capitalist Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz-where Walker is the entrepreneur in residence-and rapper Nas have invested $2.4 million with other financiers to back the rookie startup.
The Razor As The Hero
A Stanford University business school graduate who sharpened his business acumen on Wall Street, Walker found a remedy in the single-blade razor. A relic from the 1900s, it offers men a clean-cut shave free of tugging, pulling and irritation even for the coarsest hair due to its unorthodox curved edges said Walker.
What separates Bevel from other shaving sets is its spa-worthy skincare products that are infused with organic ingredients such as aloe vera juice, shea butter and sweet almond extract to treat razor bumps.
The kit also comes with a badger haired brush, a lavender-based priming oil, a white tea infused cream and a restoring balm with an oat kernel extract.
Lemon peel, tea tree and castor seed oils are enriched into the line for hydration.
The restoring balm includes lactic and salicylic acids to combat hyperpigmentation, a common result of razor bumps.
Like popular e-tailers DooBop and Birchbox, Bevel is based online and charges monthly fees to send a box of curated skincare or beauty products.
The shaving kit costs $59.95 to start a subscription. A refill kit is sent every 90 days at a lesser charge of $29.95 per month.
A Cut Above The Rest
Since launching in December of last year, Walker says the feedback for Bevel has been positive, with product sales increasing at a rate of at least 75% per month.
According to Walker, Walker & Company Brand performed a large clinical trial that showed individuals using Bevel saw a decline in razor bumps by 50 percent within four weeks.
“Bevel is the only system I trust for a closely shaven head and neck without irritation-period,” said Marlon Nichols, in a message on Bevel’s website. “Finally, a product that works for men of color.”
“Before Bevel, I never shaved the hair that grows under my neck because of razor bumps,” said Larry Erwin, on the same site. “With Bevel, that’s no longer an issue.”
Walker & Company plan on carrying more products for hyperpigmentation and natural hair care, two topics that are important to Black consumers said Walker.