Client Feature: Kings

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Hi Blue -

Thank you for taking the time out in this busy period for you and Kings – not just in the beginning stages of setting up your brand but also running a crowdfunder, and getting married!

1. Kings is a very empowering brand. What inspired you to start it up? 

Kings was born out of my personal frustration of not being able to buy an aftershave fragrance that matched my ethics and values with the combination of my passion for social change. I wanted to start a business that used its profits to fund and start projects in men’s mental health and youth projects. I wanted to start something of real value to society.

2. We noticed you use the hashtag ‘Redefining Masculinity’ can you explain what this phrase means to you?

Masculinity is a subjective term and means different things to different people. When I say #RedefiningMasculinty, I’m encouraging men to form their own definition of masculinity. One that falls in-line with the person they are. I want men to escape the ‘man box’ and feel free to challenge the traditional views of what a man is or should be. A man can be many things and it’s about celebrating what makes each of us unique and being proud to own who you are as a person.

3. What makes your product stand out to others on the market?

 Kings is the only aftershave and grooming brand in the world that reinvests at least 20% of its profits back into men’s mental health and youth mentoring projects. All our products are made in the UK, registered with The Vegan Society and Cruelty Free International, are paraben free, palm oil free and contain natural essential oils.

4. What is it that drives you to raise awareness of Male mental health? Do you think it gets enough attention?

My own experience of mental health is the strongest factor for my drive. I experienced a drastic decline in my personal mental health during my mid-twenties and it’s something I still manage on a daily basis today. I am now in a position where I feel comfortable giving back to this subject after spending years exploring and experimenting with the way my mind works. I wish I reached out during my own struggles but the shame and taboo surrounding men’s mental health at the time prevented me from showing any sign of weakness and speaking to family or friends.

Awareness of men’s mental health has definitely improved over the past 5 years and I believe awareness is the first stage before action and eventually improvement. There are a lot of good people making positive movements in this arena and I believe the subject is starting to get the attention it deserves. With poignant statistics such as “84 men commit suicide every week in the UK”, we’ve got to challenge the shame surrounding this subject and encourage men to talk when times are hard.

5. Why might someone want to switch from a mainstream product and use yours instead?

Kings is a premium product and has been designed to suit the needs of modern men who want to smell great without compromising their own ethics and morals. It’s been tried and tested on men that would usually wear big name brands such as Hugo Boss, Tom Ford and Viktor & Rolf but want that little extra from the brands they buy. I believe there is a rising awareness and movement of men who are buying products in a more conscious manner. Kings is for them.

6. Can you tell us a bit about the process of selecting the fragrances you use? Each one seems to be perfectly blended and includes some unusual essential oils which work well together and smell amazing!

Yes, Kings first fragrance ‘Evolution’ has been 13 months in the making. I’ve worked with a specialist perfumery to research and develop a fragrance that was of both high quality and met my ethical requirements. I started with a high number of scents and whittled them down to just three by using focus groups in Bristol. We’ve launched with ‘Evolution’ as it’s a fresh, sharp scent that is light and floral, with a perfectly balanced sweetness and woody feel. It’s ideal for the summer months. It contains natural essential oils: patchouli, cardamon, vetivert, copaiba, ylang and eucalyptus. We also have a second fragrance ready to release in the winter but that’s top secret at the moment ;)

7. How does the way society view masculinity impacted your own mental health? How can we encourage people to speak more openly about this, or break down these barriers?

Certain demographics of society have a very singular view of masculinity. The spectrum of what it means to be a ‘man’ has been very wide-ranging throughout history. The role, traits and appearance of men, in general, is an ever-changing dynamic and it’s very close-minded to have one stereotypical model of what a man is. When we create boxes and put men inside them, we chain them up and restrict their freedom to be anything else but the norm. We discourage growth, creativity and free thinking. The very things that add value and richness to our lives.

I felt unable to reach out during the period of my mental health distress. This was due to my own stereotypical views of what it meant to be a man. I felt an overwhelming sense of shame and felt weak. Two emotions often unattributed to men. This in a sense only exacerbated what I was going through at the time. I felt more isolated, alone and different. To encourage people to speak more openly we must first raise awareness. We must teach men the emotional intelligence and vocabulary to be able to speak about what they are experiencing. In the right context, we must also be willing to show our own vulnerability and create a space for other men to share what they are currently going through. I have found first hand that being vocal about my personal struggles with mental health has meant that my friends and family feel comfortable speaking to me about the subject. In my opinion, being honest, authentic and truly listening is how we break down these barriers.

8. What do you think Bristol community can get from Kings?

I’m Bristol born and bred. I love this city and the people who live here. I’ve travelled to many cities around the world but there’s nothing quite like the buzz and energy surrounding Bristol these days. And that Bristolian accent! I’ve seen the city rapidly transform over the past ten years into a hub of creativity, start-up businesses and thrive economically. However, I’ve seen the other side of Bristol where life can be a lot tougher for people through no fault of their own. I want to be part of a movement of people and businesses who are looking to improve society in one way or another so that we can raise and improve the standards of people lives throughout the whole city. I’ve chosen to dedicate the next portion of my life to improving men’s mental health and youth services. I’m hoping fellow Bristolians will be the first people to back me on this mission.

9. What everyday advice can you give to people out there, to take better care of their wellbeing or mental health?

I’m no expert in what works best for you, you are your own expert. Therefore my best advice would be to get to know yourself. Track your own mental health and well-being to figure out what your triggers for a decline are and what makes you feel positive and good about yourself. Experiment with exercise, sleep, your career, the foods you eat, the people you spend time with, the activities you partake in, the subject matter you watch/read and generally everything you do. Unlearn bad habits and negative patterns of thinking and give yourself an armoury of tools and techniques to draw upon at your disposal at times of need. Everything is changeable so no matter how you feel right now, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Find out more about Blue’s mission and his current crowdfunder here.

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