Buy Black: Tristan Walker of Bevel
Hairstyles for both men and women often represent their personalities, and fresh to death is always the desired outcome for everyone when they sit down in that stylist chair. The most popular trending cut for a Black man is the fade. But where did it come from? JET spoke with Tristan Walker, founder of Walker & Co., Bevel’s parent company, about classic haircuts and the importance of knowing your history. Meet the man we selected as the latest in our entrepreneur-supporting Buy Black series.
JET: Tristan, let’s learn a bit about you. Where did you grow up?
Tristan Walker: So I grew up in Queens, NY. Born and raised and much of my family’s still in Queens today.
JET: Queens. That’s land of the hustle. I take it you’re no stranger to hard work.
Tristan Walker: I was very fortunate to have a family that really believed in my potential and wanted to ensure that I got outta that. My story is almost like the rose that grew from concrete. I worked very hard to get us to where we are now. I’m really thankful for that upbringing because it really taught me that hustle and how we have to really go above and beyond to succeed.
JET: So let’s get into the story of how Bevel came to be.
Tristan Walker: Bevel is really the first flagship brand for Walker & Co. It was founded when I was 28 out of the two views I have and continue to have, that very few people in Silicon Valley understand. I have this fundamental belief that all global culture is led by American culture which is led by Black culture. And a big frustration of mine is my living in the earliest adopting region in the world and its knowing very little of the earliest adopting culture. And the second view I had pertains to health and beauty companies. I think they’re all going to be challenged in the next decade or so. My experience of going to a retailer and having to go to aisle 15 (the ethnic aisle), but it’s not really an aisle it’s just a shelf, and [having] to reach for the bottom of that shelf for a package that’s dirty…that whole second-class citizen experience really needs to go. So Walker & Company was built out of putting those two views together. To build a very special product that focuses uniquely on people of color and Bevel is the first manifestation of that vision.
JET: It seems like grooming is particularly important for Black men in America because honestly, how you look can be a matter of life and death in some instances. What do you hope to achieve through the brand?
Tristan Walker: We’re very fortunate that we have customers who are very loyal to our mission. A woman reached out and said, “Tristan, thanks for finally having a product to help single moms teach their sons how to shave.” I didn’t have a father to teach me how to shave the right way. We’re all about inspiring that confidence in our consumers so they stand up a little straighter because they deserve that.
JET: So let’s talk about your “Bevel Classics” campaign. What actually constitutes a classic haircut?
Tristan Walker: I think it’s something that’s timeless. That’s number one. Timelessness and simplicity. There’s nothing more quintessential and iconic, at least in our culture than the fade haircut. Whether it’s the skin fade [or] the taper fade. That actually started out of the military. Like putting a bowl around your head and shaving around it. Then recently over the past couple of decades or so, it started to get modernized with the blending etc. So [there’s a] really interesting, rich history, but then you have to think, “How does that affect the clients who get that cut?” In the video, you’ll see one gentleman who is from St. Louis. He no longer lives in St. Louis, but he always goes back to the same haircut because it reminds him of home. These are stories that need to be told.
Watch an introduction to Bevel Classics below:
There’s some other classic haircuts like the iconic Nas half-moon part (laughs). You know I used to rock that style when I was in high school because Nas used to do it. And that haircut still comes up today. We even got his barber in the video as well talking about how iconic it is and how people still ask for it.
JET: What hairstyles can you do without? Is there one that you would ban if you could?
Tristan Walker: (laughs) The Gumby’s gotta go…forever. People trying to bring that back man, but I don’t know (laughs). The Jheri Curl should just be stuck in movies in my opinion. Every time I think about the Jheri Curl, I think about that scene in Coming to America that Soul Glo scene where they get off the couch? That’s not a good look at all (laughs). Those are a couple of those trends that haven’t been able to persists, and there’s probably a reason for it (laughs).
For more info on Bevel Classics, visit www.bevelcode.com.