Refined Rebels

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Photo supplied

Fade in: a Toronto condo building.

Cut to: a young man shirtless in a bathroom. He’s looking in the mirror, watching himself jerk off.

Pan: across the room so we see his hands. The man is just working in moisturizer on his hands.

Fade out.

“We won’t tell you what to do… but it is designed for your face,” reads a caption across the bottom of the screen.

Up pops the Rebel’s Refinery logo: a black and white cowboy sporting a bandana and top hat.

This is Rebel’s Refinery– a skin care line targeting men who are a little rough around the edges.

Eric Fallon, 30, is the CEO of the company. He’s obsessed with making viral ads.

So they created “I Jerk.”

“We wanted some high quality commercials to establish our brand,” says Eric. “We’re not making skin care in our grandmothers bathtubs. This is a legit company.”

“It’s for men who work hard, play harder and may need refining on occasion,” he says. “We wanted it to reflect a lifestyle, the owners and how we are living.”

•••

Eric was fed up.

“I was unhappy with my current work situation,” he says. “I wanted to create a new business.”

So Eric called up his friends Justin Maclean, Elian Marks and Julian Pinder and started Rebel’s Refinery. Eric and Justin, the director of sales, have been friends for nearly 25 years. The two guys grew up together in Dundas, Ontario. “We were trying to find a market we liked,” explains Justin.

Justin thought the skincare industry was old and stuffy. He wanted to make it cool.
Eric agreed.

“I was getting interested in skin care. I just didn’t like any mens products,” says Eric. “I decided to create my own because none of them were cool and they were loaded with synthetic ingredients that did more harm than good.”

Skin care is a growing industry. Between 2010 and 2011, the men’s skin care market grew by 11 per cent— seven in 10 men are now buying skin care products.

Since January, the guys have been selling their creams and cleansers online and in stores around Toronto. And their products have been flying off physical – and virtual – shelves.

“Everyone seems to love them,” laughs Eric . “We’ve only been testing in a couple of stores but people are picking up our products off the shelf and buying them without a lick of knowledge about who we are.”

“Men still prefer to buy their skin care online so that’s a bonus for us,” adds Eric.

Bob Blunder, an associate professor with the Rowe School of Business, says the guys’ online strategy is smart.

“It’s almost like pornography,” he says. “It’s in the privacy of your own home. It makes it easy.”

But not everything has come easy for the Rebels.

•••

Open: “I watched my boyfriend cream for the first time last night. It was kind of hot,” says a girl sitting on a park bench.

Cut to: Eric, doing yoga on the lawn in a American flag print speedo.

Cut to: “My girlfriend’s mother loves the smell of my cream”

Cut to: “I cream at my nephew’s ball game,” says a man sitting in the bleachers at a baseball diamond. “At first the other kids thought it was weird. Now they are all creaming.”

Cut to: a dark haired man strolling down by the island airport. “Not only does moisturizing relieve stress, it helps keep your skin young and good looking. More and more men are moisturizing. Are you taking care of your skin?”

Fade to black.

Words appear on the screen.

“Cream every day. It’s natural.”

Rebel’s Refinery.

•••

“I don’t know if there is a literary term for it, but I liked the way two words juxtapose one another,” says Eric. Eric wanted the company name to have two words. He still has a list of the potential names, including “The Sneaky Barber.” Once the guys landed on Rebel’s Refinery, he knew it was the one. “It fit with our brand,” he says.

A brand that’s all about men.

“We wanted to give back. We wanted to promote men’s health. We wanted to donate to a cause that affects men specifically,” says Eric. “And then when one of the founders fathers passed away to prostate cancer, we decided we wanted to help out.”

In 2010, Julian’s step-father died of prostate cancer.

The guys donate part of their revenue to Prostate Cancer Canada, a cancer research foundation.

“Even if this doesn’t become the next big thing, at least I’m going to be raising some money for a good cause,” says Eric.

But altruism aside, the goal is to become to the next big thing in men’s skin care.

“We want to be the one of the most trusted men’s personal care brands. Period.” says Eric.

They must be doing something right– the guys landed a spot on Dragons’ Den for the fall.

And they think pitching their products to five prudent, sarcastic multimillionaires on prime-time television will help expose the company to a larger audience.

“We are going to see how big we can get,” says Eric, “I don’t want to limit ourselves to skin care.”

But what defines Rebel’s Refinery could be their undoing.

“We’re going to win some fans with our branding. We’re going to break a lot of rules sometimes and we’re going to do some risky stuff,” he says. “But then you still run the risk of people not digging what you’re doing. We’re a rebel brand to the core and that’s what we’re going for.”

•••

New Product Line Up Shot for Home Page

“Never for one second assume that men are not as vain as women,” says Fallon laughing.

“I remember my uncle said to me the other day the one thing he wishes he had done was start [taking care of his skin] earlier,” says Eric.
“[This is] more preventive maintenance as opposed to, ‘Oh shit I’m wrinkly and I’m 55.’” and I feel like I will do anything to catch up.”
So start early.

Advanced clear skin facial scrub $14
“Our exfoliant is amazing. It’s 97% natural, 85% organic and you’re going to want to exfoliate every other day or once a week depending,” says Eric. “It’s a lot grittier than your average exfoliant because men have slightly rougher skin and have the slight problem of ingrown hair from shaving and shaving bumps so a good hard exfoliant is really good for guys.”

Anti-wrinkle moisturizer $17
“The anti wrinkle moisturizer is fantastic,” says Eric. “It’s just a great, well balanced moisturizer with men because they typically have oilier skin than women, you know you want a moisturizer that is not too oily.”

Rehab roler under eye treatment $15
“This helps with puffiness and dark circles,” says Eric. “They key ingredients for dark circles that you want to have in your product is caffeine cause what dark circles actually are, are clusters of blood vessels underneath your eye and caffeine is one of the only things proven to actually help dissipate those.”

Advanced clear skin facial cleanser $13
“The cleanser is just like a face wash,” says Eric. “So you’re going to use that everytime you wash your face.”

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