At the heart of a good idea lies an entrepreneur, take Steve Banks, co-founder of Beast, the visionary all-men’s beauty store in Covent Garden. A bona fide ‘Heath Man’ he’ll take a pint in a pub (Guinness) over a swanky bar and chills in the green parks of London.
Beast is brilliant for many reasons – yep, it stocks Heath which we’re pretty happy about – it’s also unique in that products are put together by type rather than brand. So, you can nip in, go to the moisturiser section, pick out the one you like, buy it and go. Job done. Steve has a knack for sniffing out great new men’s beauty brands. And his keenness to get them into a chap’s hands in an easy, fuss-free way has led to Beast.
It was a Saturday afternoon and I was about to go to New York for Christmas. I had a few hours to get beauty supplies and had to go to eight or nine different stores to get what I wanted. On that flight out it hit me: why is there not a place like Space NK for men? I had a couple of weeks in New York and there was nothing there. More international travel, including Japan, there wasn’t really anything there either.
How do men buy beauty products?
Men need to come into a physical space to buy and test products. We contemplated having an online business only, and realised we needed bricks and mortar because we knew that guys are not as developed in the same way as women for buying on line.
What is your grooming routine?
After showering I apply a serum, deodorant whilst the serum sinks in, moisturiser, and sometimes eye cream. I style my hair and finish with a spritz of fragrance.
Barber of choice?
My good friend Paul Grice at The Generals Barber Shop in London Fields. I can’t say I have a specific style – I just keep it short, simple.
Sports massage or face treatment?
I’m a sucker for a massage. Aveda in Holborn and Gentleman’s Tonic in Mayfair is great for a treat.
Favourite Heath product?
The moisturiser may be the best moisturiser I’ve ever used, and I must have tested over 200.
What fragrance do you wear?
The brand I always go back to is Odin NYC, their range is brilliant. 00 is my favourite.
Are men’s grooming routines changing?
There is a shift in how younger guys want to be perceived in terms of their look. Social media has driven that – dating websites, Instagram. Before now, they had one photo taken, now they are posting on Instagram several times a day so have to look their best. For guys in their 40s and 50s (I’m 43) their routine is definitely changing. Everyone seems a bit younger these days, there is a younger feel, we are more conscious now than ever.
Best source for interiors and your last best buy?
I am trying to decide which wall textile to buy from LRNCE.com based in Marrakech.
Favourite clothing brand? Folk menswear always has a great selection. The drawcord trousers have been my summer staple.
Classic clothing pieces you can’t live without? I have a few Sacai pocket tees that have served me well over the last couple of years.
Shoe of choice? I have four pairs of Nike Mayflys on rotation in the summer.
Best inspirational international beauty store? I love Buly 1803 in Paris and Tokyo. The packaging and store design are beautiful. But the best stores are Gentle Monster, the sunglasses brand, they’re outrageously good.
The last great place you ate? A restaurant called ‘O ver on Southwark Street, authentic Neapolitan food.
Best London bar and favourite tipple? I prefer a pub and a pint of Guinness.
Last great exhibition you visited – what would you take home with you? Newport Street Gallery for the True Colours exhibition. Anything by Boo Saville.
Last great film? I only recently saw Shawshank Redemption which I loved.
Last best book? Things A Little Bird Told Me by Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter.
What gets you up in the morning? My son, Oliviero.
What is your take on ‘urban natural’ – how do you create balance with stressful city living? We head to galleries for head space, the parks for greenery and the coast for fresh air.
How do you unwind? Hanging out with my missus and son or I play footy to blow off some steam.
What is your ‘natural’ escape in the city? The pub.
Your advice to your 15-year-old self? Start DJ’ing!