By day Gavin Green is a contributing photo shoot director for The Times & Sunday Times newspaper, working with an array of personalities and celebrities; just last week he set up shoots for Ozzy Osborne, Jerry Hall and controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. By night, he creates grooming products for men through his own brand www.gavin-green.co.uk and has recently been nominated for “15 to watch out for in 2015”.
If you do not know what a photo shoot director is, it might help to learn that in the advertising world the same role is referred to as a ‘producer’ or ‘art buyer’. He has being doing this job for fifteen years, and you might think that this work means he gets the chance to travel a good deal, but arranging simultaneous shoots all over the world is time consuming and can be done remotely, which means that he does not usually have time to go to the shoot. So, from 2010 to 2013, Gavin took a three-year sabbatical to travel in New Zealand.
He had been enjoying an ongoing hobby of blending cosmetics and tinctures, but it was while in New Zealand that he was inspired by the natural local ingredients, such as the herb Speedwell, which he could add to his “garden shed”experimentation. He resolved to increase his research in order to start a business on his return to the UK, and in fact discovered that speedwell is grown in Scotland, which has a very similar climate to parts of New Zealand.
Today www.gavin-green.co.uk is trading with a range of four products: Facial Moisturiser, Face & Back Pack, Beard & Body Oil, and a Candle. The products are about 90% organic with no SLAs and Parabens, something which is very important to the brand, and are made to have a specific function. They are aimed primarily at executive gentlemen and frequent travellers, who have limited time and want an easy to use product that works fast and takes up little space in the suitcase.
Gavin spends a long time formulating and blending, then self-testing for several months before deciding that a product is ready for market. This ethos of diligence in seeking perfection is a valuable skill not just because it makes for a superior product, but because cosmetic legislation is very rigorous, and several stamps of approval are required before a product can be sold to market. After this lengthy gestation process, the fragrance is the last element to be added.
Gavin finds that managing the whole process himself allows him to become comfortable with his ingredients and processes, and gives him the freedom to break down the barriers and rules that encumber larger cosmetics companies.
Such extensive research and testing meant it took Gavin only eight months from conceiving the idea of creating something for the market to having an actual product available; a short time scale in the world of business.
PG first encountered Gavin at the Makegood entrepreneurial festival, a 4-day pop-up event held at Selfridges. From there Gavin has gained interest from potential retailers, including several tailors. He hopes to set up product flow through at least one of these in the future, but he already sells directly from his own website and has a European distributor.
At the moment Gavin says of his business that he is “still testing what works; favourite products and consumer reaction. I want my products to work, that’s really important to me”, and, as he has two jobs, that is probably a good thing. In fact, The Times are very supportive of his after hours business, and he says that, although it is a challenge to get the balance between the two right with such tight deadlines, his day and night jobs complement each other well. Working as a photo shoot director has meant working for glossy magazines and high end beauty shoots, and thus exposure to all the top brands and to learn from the “good as well as the bad”.
Gentleman’s 10 Questions
- What makes or embodies a Gentleman for you? Style, manners and good grooming
- What is the most romantic thing you have ever experienced? Received a dozen red roses to my work address after a holiday. It was both surprising and highly embarrassing.
- If you could bring one ‘gentlemanly’ trait into business, what would it be? Bring back the suit, the three-piece has made a bit of a comeback in recent months.
- What element of grooming is most important for you? Skin care and Fragrance, but then I would say that.
- What element of grooming is most important for a Gentleman? Fragrance, because it is the most memorable. It leaves a lasting impression.
- Name an iconic Gentleman? Cary Grant
- What is the most important item in your (a Gentleman’s) wardrobe? My grey dog-tooth blazer
- Why should there be more Gentlemen in the world? As George Bernard Shaw once said, “A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out” and surely that is a good thing.
- What key skill should every young Gentleman be taught? Manners
- What should a Gentleman never be without? A lighter. If you are hosting a party, people always want one. It shows attention to detail.
Finish this sentence: A gentleman should always… avoid being a cad.