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IN CONVERSATION WITH SAMUEL CHENEY OF BEAST.
For episode 43 of the MenswearStyle podcast show we spoke to Samuel Cheney, the Operations Director of Men's beauty store BEAST. This new brand has a mission to change the way men buy beauty. What started with a small store in London's Seven Dials has rapidly expanded to include concessions within House of Fraser and Flannels stores across the UK. Our host Peter Brooker gets an expert insight into how men are both learning and adopting beauty more than ever before, whilst discussing what the reasons behind this trend might be.
What is BEAST. and how did it get started?
“BEAST., the men’s beauty store is what it says on the tin; we’re a store for guys and we sell beauty products across category such as body, hair, shave, face and fragrance. So, whether men are looking for a deodorant, shower gel or face cream, we will have it. We’re a multi-brand concept, so we stock over 80 brands from all around the world. We started because our co-founders were quite annoyed that there wasn’t one place where they could get everything. They found themselves going all across town in London such as one brand stores and department stores where men’s beauty usually has a tiny section in a dusty corner.”
“The beauty hall environment is a lot of bright white lights which is not very comfortable for guys. So, the co-founders created the BEAST. concept to solve this problem. They wanted to make a different experience for guys and put everything in once place e.g. the original store in London’s Seven Dials was like a boys’ locker room with exposed brick. We also realised that a lot of men need educating and guiding through what products do, so the store was set out like a website. So rather than putting one brand on a shelf together, we split it all up into categories such as body, hair, shave and fragrance. For example, within body we will have all the different body washes from brands sat together. The same goes for moisturisers, they’re all together so you can easily compare them rather than having to go from different parts of a department store trying to compare products that are the same or similar. We try to make it simple and the product are displayed in the order that you would use them in the day also.”
When I was growing up a lot of these product weren’t around. How do you educate guys?
“We’re known as a men’s ‘beauty’ store, and we chose to use that word rather than ‘grooming’ because it seemed a bit old fashioned. Men are now much more interested in beauty, self-care and wellness etc. But people don’t necessarily know enough and there’s no starter guide that tells you what you need to do. Growing up, girls will look at their mothers putting on face creams, but guys aren’t exposed to this other than learning to shave from their fathers for the first time. Because of this, BEAST. is all about education. Guys are coming in with a real interest in using these products and have the desire to learn more. A lot of guys don’t actually know anything which is a massive opportunity for us to educate them.”
How did the House of Fraser and Flannels deal come about?
“When we had our original flagship store in Seven Dials, we had a lot of retailers from around the world coming to see our store. This is because we were the first men’s beauty store in the world. To put 80 brands in one place and curate in the way we had was unique. So, we got a lot of attention and one of the retailers that came forward and showed a massive interest was House of Fraser. Our mission statement is to change the way men buy beauty and we realised that with one store we couldn’t do that. We needed to be in a lot more places, so we saw a massive value in partnering with a retailer that could help us to position BEAST. all over the UK and help us to grow our audience and reach. It’s an opportunity to get more guys engaged in what we’re doing. The deal we’ve done with Frasers Group is something we worked on for over a year and it shows massive commitment from them and they’re really engaged with men’s beauty and grooming as a category they see value in growing for their customers. They wanted to do this with a partner that could make it cool and do it a little differently. We’re going into 20 House of Fraser stores across the UK and 10 new Frasers concept stores once opened, and finally up to 60 Flannels stores by the end of next year.”
This is a shortened transcribed edit of episode 43 of the MenswearStyle Podcast with Samuel Cheny, Operations Director of men’s beauty store shop-beast.com You can listen to the full version below or subscribe in iTunes, Spotify or your favourite podcast player.