37-year-old J.P. Mastey was only the President of men’s grooming line Baxter of California for 10 years, but his history with the company spans his entire life. A Los Angeles native, Mastey has taken the company to new heights – expanding its POV and gaining global appeal. Here, Mr. Mastey speaks about the evolution of the brand and why, in essence, it was bound to be his destiny.
Life+Times: You’re the Creative Director of Baxter of California, a role you’ve been in for 10 years but it’s been said the brand has been with you since childhood. How?
Jean-Pierre Mastey: I actually recently took over the role of Creative Director after being the CEO for the past 10 years. I acquired the brand from Mr. Baxter Finley, the founder of B.O.C. Finley ran his business right next to my father’s and I grew up with Baxter around me. Finley and my dad would exchange products for a haircut every few weeks, and I became fond of him at an early age.
L+T: The brand re-launched in 2007. How has the brand changed since that time?
JPM: The re-launch back in 2006-ish really revolutionized the brand and gave us an entirely new look and business philosophy. We changed the logo, embraced a new company color (blue), and went after the premium men’s market by aligning ourselves with better shops and moving away from the typical beauty counter. We collaborated with shops like Colette, Unionmade, and Saturdays and gained credibility in the barber shop category by building our own shop in LA.
L+T: In your role, what changes have you personally made? Where do you hope to see the brand grow and evolve to?
JPM: As CEO for the past 10 plus years, I was at the helm of all this change and new direction. As Creative Director, my plan is to expand the brand without diluting the special characteristics it holds, and continue to be innovative as a business and in our creative.
L+T: In 2010, you designed and created BAXTER FINLEY Barber & Shop (an upscale barber shop) – now the face of the Baxter brand. What was the motive behind this move?
JPM: Having a retail environment was always something we talked about, but a boutique offering for a simple and focused line of products did not excite me all that much. My family background in the haircare/salon business and my gut told me that a barber shop was more in line with the brand’s current direction and my personal comfort level. With this first location we now have a proving ground for product development and education in addition to other brand-benefitting opportunities.
L+T: I want to know more about your product. What makes it unique? What makes it different from other grooming products available today?
JPM: Our brand is unique in that it was founded with the idea that men, like women, need gender specific products. These products are held to a very strict and high standard and are made in California under our supervision. Our approach to developing products is based on simple philosophies like demand, performance, and efficiency. We do not create products to suit current trends or editorial, rather to provide solutions for the specific issues that men face. Developing products that cater to men for over 50 years has given us a knowledge-base and understanding that no other men’s grooming brand has.
L+T: Recently, you collaborated with retaW, the Japanese scent designer, on a new car tag. How did this collaboration come about?
JPM: I am a big fan of the retaW brand and took the line into our Baxter Finley Barber & Shop retail environment back in 2010. I love the brand, and how they operate. As a Los Angeles brand entrenched in car-culture, I wanted to make a car scent and retaW proved to be the perfect partner. I simply asked them to work together, and the desire to do so was mutual. The result was a very special product collaboration.
L+T: What are you currently working on? What’s coming down the pipe?
JPM: I am working on several projects for the brand, including new skin, hair and shaving products and more brick and mortar for 2014. Most of the products in the pipeline are kept on the hush for obvious reasons, but stay tuned for some really exciting news from Baxter in the coming year.