A Close Shave

The salon where it is all about the man! We speak to former Apprentice contestant Adele Lock.

By Fusion Lifestyle Reporter
November 3, 2011, 7:08 pm
A Close Shave

A gap in the market for male beauty products led to one former contestant on TV's The Apprentice to set up a Manchester-based male grooming service.

Adele Lock set up The Gentry Grooming Company in 2005 with her husband Matt after an appearance on Lord Sugar's hit show.

Following her appearance, Adele was determined to take The Gentry Grooming Co to the next level and make her mark as a successful entrepreneur in the male grooming industry.

She undertook extensive research into the sector to create a credible brand that is an authority in male grooming. Intent on putting the 'great back into British grooming,' the concept of ‘Gentrification' was born.

Following the opening of its first flagship ‘male grooming salon’ in Manchester, they went onto develop a high quality product range that contained selected hand picked ingredients to complement male skin and a vast amount of research both theoretical and practical was undertaken into men’s skin with the help of the Manchester Business School ‘Incubator’ scheme.

In June last year the products were commercially launched within House Of Fraser and the first Express Shave & Skin Centres for men opened in Manchester and Glasgow with more planned for roll-out in 2011 in other House of Fraser stores.

The company, which offer services including haircuts and shaves, has three outlets in Manchester, one in Wilmslow and a fifth at the House of Fraser store in Glasgow

Managing director Adele is planning to establish a presence in Birmingham and London as well this year.

She said: “In the past seven years there has been a 800 per cent growth in the sales of men’s toiletries – but the market is still 15 years behind the female market. Nineteen per cent of British men are very interested in personal appearance, fashion and beauty, a figure that has trebled in the four years.

“Whilst the gender gap is closing, 44 per cent of teenage men in the UK think that looking good is important, compared to 47 per cent of women in the same age group.

“We also discovered that 15 per cent of men refuse to shave their face due to the discomfort they experience from shaving and 97 per cent of men say that shaving irritates their skin because the daily shaving ritual aggravates the skin, destroying the hydrolytic film on the skin's surface, thereby increasing dryness and reducing the skin's natural protection.

“Men also have more delicate skin than women, it's often more thicker, oilier and more delicate.

“Coupled with all that we decided to produce a range of products that were much more suitable to men's skin types.”

The company went onto develop TheEssentialsRange using selected natural ingredients that complement the structure and function of healthy male skin which reduces skin irritation and replenishes natural defences to make skin all the more touchable.

Adele said: “We've taken a contemporary approach to a traditional market. Our products are niche and I want them to remain so.

“When I launched the business with my husband and brother-in-law, John we knew there was huge potential but now we want to cater for the whole male grooming market and that means creating innovative products and listening to what our customers want.

“There is defeinitely potential for growth. Last year we received finance from RBS in a climate where many businesses have found it difficult to access funds. The injection of capital has helped us in our next stage of developing the business further.”

As well as having a good product, Adele said hard work has been the key to driving the business forward.

She said: “A lot of people think it's easy to start your own business. But it's far from it. Having a good idea doesn't necessarily mean that you will be good at doing business. Getting the key essentials right from the start is really important like having a business plan. We worked really hard to produce a good business plan. Sometimes people produce one, and if that gets turned down by the banks they give up, but instead of giving up they need to go back, have a look at their plan and see how they can improve it, seek advice if they have to.

“And importantly put in the hours and the hard work. Too many people give up, the key is not to, and try and try and try again.

“It can be done. People shouldn't think they are on their own because they're not.

“There's a lot of people out there who are willing to help, whether its free advice or ones that you pay for, if you want to succeed then just go for it.

“Networking is also important, I'm always out at events meeting people and handing my cards out, even if I'm at a takeaway, I'll speak to someone next to me and tell them what I do and give them my card. You need to out yourself out there so people know who you are.”

As for Adele's experience in The Apprentice, it's not one of her most memorable moments.

She said: “Experience is important in life, and that was one of the reason's I went on the show. My parents have both been in business. My dad started off fixing washing machines whilst my mum canvassed, they later went onto set up their business in shop premises and I helped to manage it when I was younger.

“I thought I had some business background and went onto the show to see where it would get me.

“It was probably one of the most difficult things I have done and I didn't enjoy a minute of it, but at the end of the day it was experience and when I left it made me determined to look at my business ideas and take it forward.”

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