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VOL. 42 | NO. 42 | Friday, October 19, 2018

Whiskey makes beards smell better; at least that’s the goal

By Vince Troia

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Andi Whiskey

A bad smell will kill a good look every time. That’s why Nashville men’s grooming businesses spend an inordinate amount of time, money and energy making sure their customers smell as good as they look.

It’s easy for men to grow beards, it’s harder for some to take care of them. While they visit local shops such as The Moose and Whiskey Neat and spend good money getting clipped, trimmed, shaven and groomed, the mirror is not the only judge of quality work. There’s also the nose.

“One of the reasons we’ve done so well is because there are so many beard companies out there run by dudes with beards, and I have smelled their products, and they smell like dirt,” says Andi Whiskey, who refers to her Whiskey, Ink & Lace products as ‘significant-other approved.’

The variations on these olfactory offerings are evident by their marketing – labeling products as ‘energizing,’ ‘arousing,’ or ‘earthy,’ for example. Scents run the gamut from sandalwood to peppermint, pine to patchouli, ginseng to caffeine (yes, caffeine).

Cascarano

John Cascarano, founder of Tame the Beast, had worked in the women’s personal care product industry, but with the help of his NYU dermatologist father-in-law and a cosmetics laboratory, he began to create oils and lotions in his spare time.

In a quest to “feel something different as a guy” after working with women all day, he combined traditional ingredients with what he called ‘invigorators,’ such as menthol, eucalyptus, and even black pepper.

Whiskey runs her business in a 5,000-square-foot warehouse which allows the company to create, package and ship products. It also allows her to run her new scented creations under the noses of her customers and her staff.

“When we create a new scent, we walk around asking each other what we think,” she explains. “I’ll also walk into the (barber)shop and go to whoever’s in the chair and go, ‘Smell this,’ so I can immediately see if they like it.”

Recently, a limited scent for fall – Hot Toddy – made the menu for feedback. On her website, potential online buyers can ‘shop by scent,’ which includes a glossary that differentiates aromas by character, i.e. Pirate, Connoisseur, Lumberjack, The Gent, etc.

While Whiskey acknowledges that she’s creating with men in mind, sometimes women “like to wear the scents as much as others like men wearing them.” To discover the right formula, there is a back room that resembles an overstocked kitchen where she and staff play like chemists in finding the perfect of scent and substance.

“It’s a lot like chemistry, but I never imagined that this was what I was going to be doing with my life,” she acknowledges. “Chemistry was not my strong suit.”

Her team did come up with a bestseller for its website, the Viking Beard Kit (oil, balm, shampoo bar), which earned the company some props in GQ magazine. ‘Smell like a Viking’ served as the invitation to buy, and oakmoss, blended with pine and leather, and just a hint of citrus is apparently what a Viking aspired to smell like – so now every guy can, too.

Beardition has a new beard oil, Warm + Woodsy, that “has top notes of bergamot, middle notes of rose and violet, rounded out with amber, sandalwood and vanilla,” which sounds fragrant but only the nose knows for sure.

The ‘Doc Holliday’ beard oil is offered by The Moose as a “rugged, masculine fragrance of bergamot, patchouli, oakmoss and sandalwood. Again, whether that combination works is left up to your nostrils.

The Extreme Yawp, a beard, hair and body wash from Tame the Beast, greets men with hints of caffeine, moringa, eucalyptus and green tea in a product that can be used on hair, beards and the body. It is the company’s top seller.

The other smell these young companies are in search of is the smell of success. These Nashville enterprises have injected a cleverness and sense of humor into their creative marketing ideas. The casualness of the bearded, well-groomed men and the robust entrepreneurial nature of Nashville allows these companies to be playful and have a little fun with their merchandising, according to Cascarano.

“We live in a world of people who take themselves way too seriously,” he says. “A brand’s humor is key to getting people’s attention.”

Nashville’s grooming businesses are here to remind men that even if they think the state of current affairs stinks, they still can smell great.

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