Fulton & Roark is your one-stop-shop for all of your manly grooming needs. From solid colognes curated to manly aesthetic reminiscent of Zippo lighters and body wash, to shaving cream that moisturizes and refreshes your skin; Fulton & Roark has slowly worked their way into the men’s grooming industry, providing a much-needed update for us guys and our daily grooming routine.
To gain a bit more insight into the type of brand Fulton & Roark is and how us men can improve our own grooming routines, we spoke with one of their founders, Kevin Keller, whose passion for his products have driven the success of this fairly young brand.
Why did you begin producing men's grooming products?
When I was coming of age, there was this pretty radical shift happening as it related to masculinity in our culture, and interestingly, men's grooming seemed to be at the center of it. All of a sudden, the term "metrosexual" popped up, which was the word for a very particular kind of man who took a little pride in his appearance. The whole thing annoyed me, for obvious reasons. But what was interesting was that within a few years, that word had virtually disappeared, and the new word was "normal." That rapid shift was great for a lot of reasons (in large part because it represented a shift in societal expectations of both gay and straight men) but in a smaller way, it just meant that guys, in general, were getting far more comfortable and interested in taking care of themselves...which is a good thing.
The problem was that while my soon-to-be co-founder and I saw that guys were wanting to step up their grooming games, the vast majority of the "men's lines" on the markets did one of three things. They either did the same old same old in terms of product offerings, but put the words "for men" on their packaging, they went for the super-bro route and made the bright blue 7-in-1 shampoo, conditioner, shave cream, etc.. product and loaded up their messaging with machismo...or there were a few lines that tried to take very complicated 11-step morning facial regimens that are fairly common in women's beauty, and slapped the words "for men" on that packaging.
In each of those scenarios, we were disappointed by the lack of thought and care put into guys' evolving grooming routines. We were sure that we could do better, by doing the work of understanding how men get themselves ready, and what end results they're looking for and creating product accordingly.
What makes Fulton & Roark different than other men's grooming companies on the market?
It starts with our being details guys. We think those little constraints in a man's life can make a big difference in creating ideal solutions for him. For example, we started by trying to completely overhaul cologne. Traditional spray cologne doesn't seem problematic...until you start asking guys detailed questions about their lives, where they get ready, and so on. All of a sudden, a fragile glass bottle of flammable liquid doesn't seem like a great idea when you learn that your typical customer travels quite a bit, and he's trying to take that on an airplane...and through the TSA checkpoint, no less. Or you learn that he gets ready at the gym, which means he's cramming his stuff in a metal locker with a tile floor. Those realizations were just a few that led us to re-imagine fragrance, and create a line of solid fragrances that perform as well as spray colognes, but without all the problems that come with an old-school version of cologne. We put that same level of precise thought against each of our products.
If you could put it into one word, what does Fulton & Roark pride themselves on, and why?
Fulton & Roark prides themselves on this one word: meticulous. We do more than make good products; we go the extra mile in every way we can. We use the safest ingredients available, and we’re transparent about what goes into each product. That's why we have posts on our blog for each of our products explaining every ingredient, what it is, what it does, and why we use it.
What is next in the line of Fulton & Roark products?
We have a few products in the works, including some hair and beard products that I think will get some attention for having a new perspective as it relates to hair and beard products. Our customers have been asking for hair products for quite a while, but we didn't want to make any moves until we thought we had something interesting to offer. Now that we think we do, we're really excited about that. We also have a couple of fragrances in development right now, which is always fun.
How have people been responding to your products?
Some of my favorite experiences are the times I watch someone check out our products for the first time and then they almost "sell" me on why it's great. For example, a guy will get his hands on one of our solid fragrances and start telling me about how much easier they will be for traveling, and that the application process is far more discrete (he often explains "the elevator moment" when a guy has just applied spray cologne and it's way too strong.) We put a relentless focus on details — from perfecting the size and hand-feel of our solid cologne to deciding which products should be TSA-friendly — so it's really rewarding when people notice the attention to detail we put into our products. Luckily, we get that response quite a lot.
How have your products grown and developed since you have started?
Since we started, we vowed not to be a "check the box" kind of company that just goes to a contract lab and says, "give us one of everything." (I'd guess that 90% or more of all of the celebrity-fronted grooming lines and lots of others operate that way...they put their name on a bunch of pre-made formulas, put it in their package and call it a day.) We have been slow to roll out new products because our customers expected us to release both remarkably clever and effective products, and we take our time to make sure we deliver on that. The result is that we don't have a huge offering of products, but we think every one of them has a great reason for being.
What is your best grooming tip for men?
The best grooming tip for men is to take interest in the before and aftercare. The process of shaving is essentially dragging one or more sharpened blades across your face in hopes of cutting your facial hair as closely as possible. Using products that protect your skin before, like our Shave Cream, and after like our Aftershave Cloths, make a tremendous difference in your grooming care. Oh, and of course...moisturize! You'll thank yourself in ten years.
What is the most overlooked part of men's grooming?
The most overlooked part of men’s grooming is most definitely moisturizing. Shaving is the act of dragging sharpened metal blades across your face. And, exfoliating is the removal of dead skin cells through physical abrasion. Our shave cream and bar soap are both designed to make shaving and exfoliating respectively as gentle and pleasant as possible, but moisturizing is always a great next step.
Also, most guys shower a lot. And while that leaves you feeling clean and smelling fresh, all that washing has a tendency to overdry your hair and skin...even if you're using good products. Lotion and conditioner can help offset that problem, which helps keep everything healthy and healthy-looking.
What is the most difficult part of running a men's grooming product company?
Probably just being patient, honestly. While self-care has made its way to the male industry, we still have a ways to go. Years ago, men followed a specific definition of masculinity and were frowned upon for any participation in the self-care industry. A challenge would be in part due to the antiquated connotations that come with being “feminine” or “masculine” and the need to educate more men to be comfortable with taking an interest in their personal care and wellness. This is definitely not the most pressing issue of our time...not even close. But, I sometimes get impatient about that. Even more so, I just get excited for all the different things we want to tackle and all the things we want to offer. However, we don't want to over-extend ourselves, so I find myself reminding myself to be a little patient, and be thankful for all the cool things we have already been able to do. We'll get to everything, eventually!