In the realm of men’s grooming, these days there are more choices than ever – fueled by their own research-driven packaging, messaging and celebrity endorsement. But despite the increase in quantity, Kevin Keller and Allen Shafer, two friends who met at Wake Forest business school, were less than impressed with what they considered an egregious lack in quality – especially when it comes to cologne.
“There are so many things wrong with cologne,” Kevin says. “It’s really hard to travel with, you can’t put it in your carry-on bag and if it breaks or spills, that’s a total catastrophe. You never know when you get a new bottle how strong it’s going to be. And we thought, ‘we can do better than that.’ ”
Kevin and Allen set out to learn as much as they could about the history and chemistry of cologne, in hopes of creating an alternative of their own. They found that coconut oil, pharmaceutical-grade mineral oil and plant-based products like sandalwood and lavender can create a scent that is both natural and lasting. They also learned that natural amber, one of the finest fragrances in the world, is actually extracted from whale vomit. (And masses of it, called ambergris, go for upwards of $60,000.) “That was one of the few cases where we felt okay going with a synthetic alternative,” Kevin laughs.
But the true breakthrough came when Kevin and Allen discovered ceresin, a microcrystalline wax that enables them to create solid cologne that is masculine, travel-ready and filled with concentrated fragrance that won’t irritate skin.
After more than a year of research and design, Kevin and Allen launched Fulton & Roark, a men’s grooming line named for Kevin’s boxer-mix and Allen’s yellow lab. All three pilot fragrances, Tybee (a light, clean musk), Hatteras (a traditional, spicy classic), and Shackleford (think wood and tobacco), come in a square container no bigger than a silver dollar and can be applied with the tips of your fingers. Since the package can fit in the watch-pocket of a pair of denim, Kevin hopes men will see it as the solution to a long-standing problem.
“We’re not the kinds of guys who think we’re changing the world,” Kevin admits. “We just want to make getting ready a little bit better for men.”
Fulton & Roark hopes to solve other men’s grooming problems as well. Next on the list is shaving cream that is TSA-approved at 3.4-oz and rolls down so as not to take up too much space in a cabinet or suitcase. All Fulton & Roark products are available online or in an increasing number of locations nationwide.