This Arab Female Entrepreneur Heads Up A Company Catering Solely To Men
Zein Arbeed wasn’t afraid to venture into unfamiliar territory while launching The Grooming Lab.
It takes a fierce female entrepreneur to start revolutionising the men’s grooming industry in the region. Zein Arbeed founded The Grooming Lab, the region’s only dedicated men’s grooming distributor for niche and exclusive men’s grooming brands, with that mission and vision in mind. Fast forward from 2017 and her project houses some of the leading global men’s personal care and wellness brands, including Captain Fawcett, Jaxon Lane, The Groomed Man Co. and Dapper Dan. What’s more, there’s a wide selection of ranges from the portfolio of high-end men’s grooming brands from around the globe, from hair care, beard care and shaving to skincare and bath and body essentials.
At The Grooming Lab, Arbeed, a marketing graduate who has managed luxury automotive brands in multiple markets, oversees a host of different operations. These include new brand acquisitions, sales and business development, product training across retail/B2B channels and business financials, as well as trend analysis and planning for the future.
We talk to the creative and humorous Arbeed about what motivated her to launch The Grooming Lab, which donated five percent of sales proceeds in November to the Shanab Initiative under Friends of Cancer Patients Society to back the No Shave November movement. We also get an insight into what it’s like for an Arab woman to work in a male-specific industry, how men’s getting ready habits are changing and more.
What is it like being a woman breaking into the men’s grooming industry?
It has been challenging and fun-filled, yet very rewarding to be an Arab woman selling men’s grooming products in the Middle East. The region’s perception of the modern male is seen to be more ambitious, better connected and networked, and has more spending power than ever before, which I concur with.
As part of my daily routine, I meet many owners of barbershops where we retail and have always been warmly welcomed. More often than usual, I receive a startling response when they come to know over a conversation that I run the business. But I also do get a lot respect and that’s the great part of being an Arab woman in this business in this part of the world.
I have realised that in the region, men are not the most forward in terms of understanding men’s grooming. Apart from a weekly visit to their barbers, men need to be more educated on the importance of taking care of their skin and keeping up with the global trends. This understanding also has owners / decision makers open to listening to what we offer. Furthermore, like women, men should also be on the lookout for upcoming and current trends and be a part of the next big thing.
On the retail front, I have dealt with many successful women who head bigger retail beauty chains, and they relate to my story and have been very helpful and understanding as well.
What gap in the market resulted in The Grooming Lab launching?
Sometime in late 2016, men sporting long beards became a trend, and that was when we saw a need for men’s grooming products particularly at that time such as beard oils, beard balms, beard brushes etc. This is primarily when and where the business began.
Generally, men were not exposed to many grooming brands. They were accustomed to purchase what was available at their local barbershops. The barbershops / pharmacies stocked more mass-based grooming labels, and this was seen to be a major gap for niche exclusive brands, hence we chose to rise to the occasion and fill that void.
This is when we started our lookout for certain and specific men’s grooming brands, specifically those that are niche and nowhere to be found in the UAE. Post the introduction of our first brand, Captain Fawcett, in 2017, that focused on the beard grooming and shaving aspect of men, we looked at another award-winning hairstyling brand called Dapper Dan. It gives men a chance to use products to style their hair in any particular way, but more importantly with healthy ingredients and formulas that protect the hair well. With Dapper Dan, there isn’t any extra grease and it is easy to wash out. Through these, we filled two important gaps in the market by 2018.
Four years down the road we now distribute four men’s brands covering all aspects of men’s grooming. From beard and shaving to hairstyling, and now, more importantly, brands dedicated to men’s skincare, we’ve got it all!
What's new / innovative on offer at The Grooming Lab?
Face Masks have always been a thing in the cosmetics and skincare industry, but recent trends are leaning towards creating masks that cater to the male demographic. With this in mind, we have started the distribution of another award-winning brand, Jaxon Lane. It’s a Korean skincare brand dedicated to men, with their acclaimed facemask for men called the Bro Mask.
The Bro Mask Power is packed with three percent niacinamide (wrinkle and acne fighting in the form of Vitamin B3), collagen, peptides and nine plant extracts scientifically proven to improve the appearance of skin. Another interesting fact is that instead of common cotton masks, the Bro Mask uses hydrogel to ensure active ingredients are absorbed into the skin, for maximum results. And finally, this mask is made in two pieces so guys with beards can use half.
How are men’s grooming habits changing? Are men becoming more open to skin care etc?
What was once traditionally labelled as ‘male grooming’ is shifting closer to a segment that can be better described as men’s care. Men are in a collective transition towards a healthier and more matured version of masculinity. The men’s grooming space is already seeing some brands portray masculinity with a toned down and more relaxed approach that focuses on values.
Previously the only choice men had was to use brands that were pitching specifically to women or that one-in-all lotion for all skin types, body parts and seasons. However, men’s skincare is now focused on personalisation, straightforward messaging and education, and dedicated men’s skincare brands are looking to provide a seamless experience for men buying products they’re unfamiliar with.
Men today want to feel good about themselves and hence opening up to dedicated use of skincare products, and they are also more actively and openly seeking skincare grooming / beauty services. Moisturisers, hydration facemasks, scrubs, toners and daily sunscreens are becoming more popular with men every day.