Sports organization Overtime Elite (OTE) and grooming giant BEVEL have announced a partnership that kicked off with the start of the new-age basketball league’s season.
The grooming brand opened up BEVEL Barbershops inside Atlanta's OTE Arena. The shop will cater to OTE’s athletes, while providing them with various products. Beyond a great cut and shave from official BEVEL barbers, there’s an educational component that is the true value for players who will have an opportunity to learn grooming routines based on their individual needs.
The two companies, who have collaborated previously, represent new ways of thinking. OTE is an alternative for basketball athletes looking for another path to the league. While they spend ample time developing players’ skills and revenue opportunities, the league is also dedicated to education and financial literacy. BEVEL is a welcomed unicorn. The brand, founded by serial entrepreneur Tristan Walker, provides a solution for Black men who have long struggled with products that wholly cater to their hair and skin type.
After a successful opening on the first day of December, Girard Hardy, BEVEL’s director of brand marketing, spoke with LEVEL about why this partnership is so symbiotic and a score for introducing the brand to younger Black men.
LEVEL: How did this partnership come about?
Girard Hardy: We've been going back and forth and worked with the Overtime team probably three, four times over the last two or three years. We've been really excited about working with their brand. This opportunity just developed into what it is. I think the first project I worked with Overtime on was just influencer content around a product launch. Six months later, they're launching a sports league. And all of a sudden [our collaboration] starts to make sense, because there's a strong overlap between our consumer, the BEVEL shopper, and sports and entertainment properties. And so this is one that just has that irreverence of BEVEL at the core of what we do and who we are as a brand. It’s just a real natural fit.
This is also a really good opportunity to teach young Black men about grooming at an early stage.
Yeah, for us it's probably a threefold kind of piece. The backstory is the brand has been around for 10 years. And one of the moments that happened very early for BEVEL was DJ Khaled and Nas shouted us out on [“Nas Album Done.”] Now at the time, eight, nine years ago, that was great, went viral. People still use a lot of the phrases from that song when speaking about the brand, but if you look at who that person is today, who heard us 10 years ago, myself included, we're all a little bit older. We're in different positions in life. And then if you go and you talk to the fans of Overtime Elite, they're 17 years old, maybe they're 19, maybe they're 20. They don't know that song or they don't have that song in the same reverence that someone who is in their 30s when that song dropped might have.
All of that is just context to be able to say the first thing for us is it allows us to drive awareness of our brand with an expanding demographic. A lot of grooming decisions are made at that 15-, 16-, 17-year-old range. Even if you can't afford the products, you're making a decision about the products for when you can afford 'em, right? And so the opportunity for us to be able to partner with Overtime allows us to grow awareness of the brand. It allows us to be able to grow that awareness with a younger demographic as they advance into it.
And then third is to your point: It allows us to educate a younger demographic, a younger consumer, about grooming, about not just shaving because a lot of the guys on those teams are babyface—they're not shaving. But you still have skin that you can take care of. You wash your face, you can exfoliate, you can use body wash, shampoos, conditioners. All of those are conversations that I think as society we usually wait for men to have until people can get their jokes off and clown the guy for washing his hair with hand soap. You know what I mean? So I think it's an opportunity for us and those three things are probably the critical piece for us as a brand.
Are you seeing Gen Z get familiar with grooming faster than previous generations?
I think so, honestly. [Here’s an example] just to personalize it. My dad didn't start shaving until he was doing a tour in Vietnam. And so he was shaving out of a cup with a bar of soap and a straight razor. That was his introduction to grooming. Years and years later, I was forced to for a job situation, but it wasn't something that I had thought about. But of course as I was coming up there was GQ and all of those things that sort of tell you what it should be.
It's really interesting now if you think about the TikTok application of a lot of things. The reality is these kids can open their phone and see visuals of men talking about therapy [while] using face wash [and] exfoliating. You can see all of these things. Obviously, there's some downsides to all of that, but I think the plus side is specifically as a Black man, you potentially learn earlier on more and more that we're not a monolith and that there's a lot of different ways to come into this situation, which if I look at my dad or my grandfather or great-grandfather, they weren't having those kind of conversations, but they weren't in spaces where they could feel comfortable with it. It's a long answer to your question; the short answer is yes.
Let’s stay on the education piece, which I think is the most intriguing part of Overtime as a brand. BEVEL will be doing workshops around grooming for the players. What does that entail?
The big piece for the workshops is that product education, I think selfishly as a brand, we think a lot about the experience that people are going to have using our products, and so we want to make sure that if we're giving product or if the athletes are able to receive product from BEVEL, that they're able to really understand how to use it. Some things are really self-explanatory, right? This is face wash, you wash your face with this. But then I think the broader piece is, okay, so what does it mean to have a regimen of things, right? Oh, okay, so those are exfoliating toner pads. I'm going to be able to use those, or I should look to use those two times a week. Which again, from a personal standpoint, it is a miracle that my skin survived using those oxy pads.
Related: 4 Steps to a Perfect Head Shave
You took me back to a time! It’s tragic what we were using on our faces.
I would use those things probably four, five times a week. So it's a wonder that there's any sort of moisture left in my skin. So that's one of those things where you want to be able to have a conversation with these guys about the products that they're getting, how they should use them, what they're looking for, that kind of stuff. And our aim is to have one of our expert barbers provide that training for these guys so that they can understand what the products are so they can see them in context, and then they can have a good experience from there.