With his natural skincare company Dark Heart Beard Co, Gareth Edwards is on a mission to "enable beardnedness and inspire greatness".
Hi Gareth! Tell us a bit about Dark Heart Beard Co. What do you do, and how did the business come about?
So Dark Heart Beard Co was a business I started a little over a year-and-a-half ago with my then business partner Jo Lehndorf (owner of Loveskin Oils), and it came out of a need for a product that I actually liked. I had grown my beard and thought it was about time to groom it, but what was on the market at that time didn't really appeal to me for various reasons, so I started to research oils and their properties with a focus on creating a product that spoke to my inner gentleman.
Dark Heart Beard Co is all about “gentlemanly values” - what do they mean to you?
I think Gentlemanly values have been at the forefront of my business; first and foremost taking pride in one's appearance, that also extends to looking after yourself inside as well, physically and emotionally. Secondly, it's about caring for others in your community, not just your family and friends. I've been a big advocate since staring my business for giving back where I am able, and I think as business owners it's something we really need to be conscious of. So far I have worked alongside charities and organisations like Decembeard, Bowel Cancer NZ and Prostate Cancer NZ. I've also shaved my head to raise money for Shave for a Cure.
"I've been a big advocate for giving back where I am able, and I think as business owners it's something we really need to be conscious of."
Tell us a bit about your product range and how it came about.
A big part of my business beliefs are to champion the craftsmen and women in New Zealand, and somehow showcase their ingredients in my handcrafted products. What I found in my research and development phase was a lot of other brands used the "fragrance" of something which never really smelt like what it said on the bottle. Being a big coffee drinker (some say snob) I wanted a way of putting real coffee into some products and began developing my arabica bean-infused coffee oil using my friend Mike's locally-roasted beans, from his roastery Meebz in Milford. I use his freshly ground beans for our beard oil, beard balm and also my most popular product, the arabica & manuka honey facial scrub.
I'm also a whisky drinker and enjoy the odd dram, so I reached out to the amazing craftsman that is Matt Thomson from Thomson Whisky and ran some ideas of products I had in mind, of which he was more than happy to collaborate on. So with some trial and error - and many a glass of manuka-smoked single malt - I created my number two selling product, the Thomson Whisky-infused aftershave tonic.
"I found a lot of other brands used the "fragrance" of something which never really smelt like what it said on the bottle. I wanted a way of putting real coffee into some products."
Another big part of our business is making it sustainable and as environmentally conscious as possible, so that led me to the next product, the Rosemary & Charcoal wash bar. This is a shampoo, beard, face and body wash, all rolled into one triple-milled, beautiful soap bar. Not only is this wash bar palm oil-free, the packaging is paper so 100% recyclable, and it means fewer plastic bottles in your shower!
When did you first discover that natural ingredients could be used for male grooming?
I think natural ingredients in grooming are a hot topic, and more people are in tune with what they want to put in their bodies these days. The powers of social media has a big part in this, making us more aware of the benefits of using ingredients that are organic and natural. I think a lot of brands jump on the "natural" band wagon though, and try to exploit this market with only a small percentage of their ingredients deemed "natural".
What's the coolest thing you've learned in the process of running your business and making your products?
I think the coolest thing that's happened since I started my business isn't so much what I've learned, it's more about the network of people I have been introduced to and got to spend time with. Friendships have grown with other NZ creators and makers, craftsmen and women all trying to forge their own path.
What natural beauty products or ingredients do you find yourself recommending most often?
In terms of recommending products or ingredients, I tend to keep it simple and tell my customers not to over do it. Having something to exfoliate with like our scrub; clean with the wash bar and then moisturise with a good nourishing oil like our kawakawa infused facial oil.
Who are your favourite social media follows for inspiration?
Inspiration for me comes in many guises, in a business sense the likes of Richard Branson, Elon Musk and David Beckham and also my fellow NZ small business owners. Style-wise you can't look past Beckham again... also guys like Timothy James, Justus Frederic Hansen and William Wade.
If you could go back to the beginning of your business journey, what advice would you give yourself?
To not sweat the little things that go wrong or don't quite work, and to really enjoy the wins. I was and am still, to a point, all about the next thing and the next thing, not really stopping to go 'wow, look where we've got to and how far we've come'. Also I'd probably outsource a lot more at the beginning rather than try and do it all in house to save a little bit of money, when in the long run you'll spend more time doing it than the professionals, and possibly end up paying them to redo it further down the track anyway!
Find Gareth and his products on Instagram, Facebook and on the Dark Heart Beard Co website.
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