Founder of the Buckhead-based Walker & Company empowers through products and education
The list of accolades for Tristan Walker is lengthy and varied. It includes being named one of Fortune’s 50 World’s Greatest Leaders, USA Today’s Person of the Year, Ebony’s 100 Most Powerful People and more. The founder and CEO of the Buckhead-based Walker & Company Brands, which includes Form hair care and Bevel men’s grooming products, works with the community in mind, from creating products designed especially for people of color to funding educational programs for black and Latinx students. After a stint on Wall Street and earning an MBA from Stanford, Walker relocated to Atlanta in 2018 to be closer to his customer base here and to raise his two sons. Here, he shares how the business and those initiatives got their starts.
What motivated you to launch this company?
I immediately think of one of my earliest experiences shaving. I was an intern on Wall Street, and I had some facial hair. One day, I was called out by a supervisor in front of all the other employees for not being clean-shaven. When that happened, I didn’t know what product or products to use to solve this problem. My confidence took a major hit. For me, launching Walker & Company Brands and Bevel was about solving a problem that’s been around for a long time.
What different needs is the company addressing?
When it comes to black consumers, there are a multitude of issues in the health and beauty space that have gone ignored for far too long. That’s why we developed a full skin care line specifically targeted at eliminating dark spots and skin dryness, and reducing the skin irritation issues that many of our consumers face. Razor bumps are another issue. When we launched Bevel in 2013, we started with our Shave System featuring a single-blade razor. The more common multi-blade razors cut the hair beneath the skin, and as the hair grows back, it curls up underneath the surface, causing razor bumps and ingrown hairs. Black men suffer disproportionately from these issues, and we set out to eliminate them.
What was some good advice you received about being a business owner?
Stick to your values and remain true to them every step of the way. I approach every decision through my values of courage, inspiration, respect, judgment, wellness and loyalty. For me, those values always come first and keep me true to what matters most. This goes for work, family and all decisions.
Tell us about the company’s commitment to education.
Walker & Company Brands is committed to the success and empowerment of black men, and a big part of that is education. It’s important to us that there are no barriers to education. This led to our support of Chicago’s Urban Prep Academies. We provided assistance with college tours, college application fees and college test prep fees for the classes of 2020 and 2021. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve donated tablets to keep students connected and on-track via distance learning. In 2008, [I founded] Code 2040 to ensure that more folks don’t make the same mistakes I did, which was not learning about Silicon Valley until I was 24. The mission of Code 2040 is to activate, connect and mobilize the largest racial equity community in tech and dismantle barriers that have kept black and Latinx people from full participation in the tech economy. We select students who have a strong engineering ability and who match our values.
You’ve also supported Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ “Strength in Beauty Fund” to raise money for the cosmetology workforce.
My team and I are proud not only to call Atlanta home, but also to remain dedicated to the economic empowerment of the independent cosmetology workforce. We will always advocate for the health of our community, especially those most impacted by this pandemic.
Clarification: Walker relocated to Atlanta in 2018 to raise his two sons with his wife, Amoy.
Atlanta-based writer and editor contributing to a number of local and state-wide publications. Instructor in Georgia State’s Communication department and Emory’s Continuing Education division.