Gregor Jaspers (The Grey)
We are thrilled to take the interview with the incredible Gregor Jaspers, the founder of the men’s skincare brand called ‘The Grey’. Grey, as Gregor is known to his friends, wanted a skincare set that would have the same luxurious feel and effectiveness as women’s skincare, doubled with the ease and convenience of a simple men’s skincare regime.
The Fashiongton Post: How and when was born the idea of creating a men’s skincare brand?
Gregor Jaspers: The ‘how’ and ‘when’ was during one of my buying trips in Milan, when I used to work as a buying director for a dutch Department store. During the buying season I was living on my suitcase going from trade show to trade show. I remember sitting in my hotel room and looking at my wash-bag stuffed with all different skincare products from high end to pharmacist brands from men‘s to women’s brands and still I had the feeling I was missing certain products. I said to myself this should be easier, I went out of the hotel to a well known beauty retailer and tried to buy an easy men’s skincare range. Coming back to my hotel room with the usual suspects in my bag, I was hoping for a new easy skincare regime but in the end I was missing my old products from my overly cluttered wash-bag. This was the moment I realized there was no skincare brand made for men focussing on skin improvement and maintenance, thus the idea for ‘The Grey’ was born.
F.P.: Do you have some kind of background related to beauty and skincare or it was a completely new niche for you?
G.J.: I don’t have a professional background in skincare but my mother was from the industry, so at an early age I became aware of skincare and its necessity. Now, having my own skincare brand and working with some of the best laboratories in Europe, I learn and grow my knowledge as a passion, because it became my profession, and I learn every day which is something I cherish!
F.P.: What existing beauty brands on the market do you consider as your direct competitors and why exactly those?
G.J.: As a men’s skincare brand we have to compete with a lot of different type of brands: 1) Grooming brands like, for instance, Lumin. They are competitors simply because they are so visible and have a great but aggressive marketing strategy which we need to battle; 2) Independent skincare brands like Dr. Barbara Sturm, Verso, Malin and Goetz, which have a similar brand philosophy, price point and positioning which is appealing to the male consumers; 3) High end brands like Chanel, Dior, Tom Ford – those with a track record and large brand awareness, focussing on the male market. So, we are competing on different levels, getting grip on all of these different brand spectrums.
F.P.: Tell us about the process of choosing the brand name ‘The Grey’. Why exactly that one? What other options were you choosing between?
G.J.: Choosing a brand name is like choosing a name for your child and, when at the start of the creation certain names came up…. But one day a good friend called me saying “Hey, Grey (short for Gregor and the nickname most of my friends use), how are you getting along with your skincare brand plans?” Thus “Grey” stuck in my mind, as it is close to me, and most of the men don’t worry about a wrinkle here but the first grey hairs are a significant sign of us getting older, and life is not just black and white.
F.P.: Did you have a start-up capital and how quickly did you start making a profit?
G.J.: In the beginning I thought that I could manage all by my self working 7 days a week setting money aside, but as we moved forward in the development I saw that the initial budget was not going to be enough, so this is when a friend stepped in as an angel investor giving me the financial backing enabling me to create the brand as it was intended.
F.P.: Has the team of the brand grew since then or you still manage the brand by yourself? Who stands behind ‘The Grey’ except you?
G.J.: It has grown bit by bit. First adding a sales team was the first step then slowly adding some team members so I would have more time to to focus on growing the brand, develop new products and keep the vision and strategy clear we are still a small team which I like but I need to learn to delegate more which is a big challenge.
F.P.: What are the most rare and innovative components that you use in your skincare products?
G.J.: Skincare ingredients are not the star players in a product, it is all about the formulation and combination of ingredients that make a cream or serum effective, so we love to combine “old fashioned” and next generation ingredients into formulations strengthening the activity of the product resulting in a better skin.
F.P.: How long does it take to develop a single product?
G.J.: This really depends on the type of a product. Our sunscreen took us over three years. After numerous attempts and errors we launched the perfect SPF this spring. An easier product could be developed in one year but then everything needs to go as planned and most of the time is doesn’t. Things like product briefing, sample development, testing, ingredients, packaging, legislation, lead-times — all of these play a role in the final production time.
F.P.: What skincare products you guess will be in demand in 10 years from now?
G.J.: If I would only know for sure! Men’s skincare will be more and more accepted within the coming years and we already see that men’s makeup is getting more and more popular, a trend coming from the asian market. I can imagine that protection will be a keyword in skincare within the coming 10 years: sun-protection, polution-protection, enviromental-protection, etc.
F.P.: What will happen if the skincare boom ends and men stop fighting their wrinkles?
G.J.: I hope for all of us that we never stop fighting wrinkles! The “boom”, in my opinion, will not end, it will be more of a general acceptance that men are taking care of their skin and this will be an ongoing process as skincare is a part of a healthy lifestyle which will soon become more and more important .
F.P.: What was the very first product of The Grey skincare?
G.J.: That’s a 3-in-1 Face Cream, which was the product I initially wanted to make, for me it’s iconic for the brand, and it’s also our best seller, so our clients agree.
F.P.: What’s your next step?
G.J.: We are on the right track, and have many ideas: new products, new product groups… We keep building our community and keep looking for the best retailers in the world to work with, and we still have a lot of territory to cover here while working on a sustainability plan for new product launches, but also thinking how we can change current products with this plan. So, we actually have a lot of steps ahead but we will take it one step at a time as we want to build and grow with a solid base, as well as with a long term vision!
F.P.: Your piece of advice to ‘The Fashiongton Post’ readers?
G.J.: For the men out there: invest in 2 or 3 great products for you skin — a face wash, a face cream and an SPF. This is all you need to start with. The smaller the routine the bigger the chances are that you will be able to keep the routine going and that‘s what skincare is all about, keeping your routine.