I never gave solid fragrances much thought UNTIL I found myself at airport security a few years ago having to explain that my liquid bottle of Creed was my favorite perfume—and not cheap!—and could they please make an exception? (The answer: a resounding "no.") As a result, I've become a bit of a solid fragrance junkie. My current favorites are Soap & Paper Factory's L'Orange, Diptyque Philosykos, and Tocca Bianca, of which I also have the spray, and I'm delighted to say I've finally found a line of solid colognes worth endorsing: Fulton & Roark, made in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The two fragrances I sampled (out of three) smell sophisticated and clean without being overpowering, which is something I can't stand (when I hug you, I don't necessarily want to come away smelling like you, even if I love you!), and from a design perspective, they're spot on. The sleek, square design—a 0.2 oz cast aluminum case—fits easily in your pocket and has a rotating magnetic lid so you can't lose it. I sampled Shackleford, which is woodsy and masculine, and Tybee, a musky scent with rosewood and cedar accents—definitely a summery fragrance I could even see myself borrowing from my husband. I asked Fulton & Roark co-founders Kevin Keller and Allen Shafer's to share a bit more about how they got started, the benefits of solid cologne, and the best way to apply them, after the jump.
I love your company name! What's the story behind it?
We wanted a name that hearkened back to what we call the "pre-plastic era" (before we decided everything should be disposable), but also one that was authentic. We realized our own names, Shafer and Keller, sounded a law firm and we joked that our rescue mutts Fulton (a boxer mix) and Roark (a lab mix) had much better names for a company. Eventually, we decided the joke actually sounded like a good idea.
What were you guys doing prior to F&R and what inspired your decision to make solid cologne?
I (Allen) was working for a direct trade coffee company and Kevin worked for the indie music magazine Paste. We met at business school and found that Kevin was highly involved with grooming products and I have a big interest in design, so F&R has been the perfect outlet for both of our passions.
Aside from being TSA-friendly—and obviously, the practicality there is a huge benefit—what else do you like about solid cologne?
Even for the guy who doesn't leave town often, the ability to take his cologne anywhere is nice. He can throw it in his gym bag without fear of it leaking or breaking in his locker, and he can very quietly reapply it without creating that awkward, "Wow, you JUST put on cologne" elevator/bathroom moment.
Do solid scents last longer than sprays?
Just like with sprays, the longevity of a solid fragrance varies depending on the person's skin type, perspiration levels, etc. More important to most of our users and testers is the steady strength of the fragrance over time.
What's the best way to apply it?
We suggest just one or two fingers swiped lightly across the product and then applied to the neck, wrist, and behind the ears.
How are you differentiating yourselves in a steadily growing men's grooming market?
We decided to start F&R because we found that while there are a lot of men's grooming product companies out there, not enough of those companies were asking "why" enough. So much of what was out there was just a repeat of what people have been using for hundreds of years. So, we started with cologne, because that's basically been the same since the Renaissance. But we hope that moving forward, people will come to know and trust us to first figure out how men like to get ready and then to create innovative and top quality products around that.
How do you envision the company evolving? Are you looking to stay very specific to solid cologne or do you see yourself branching out to other products?
Our goal is to eventually offer a complete men's line. Our next product, due out in a few months, is a TSA-friendly, highly-concentrated shaving cream, which we're really excited about.
Your entire line is assembled, mixed, and filled in North Carolina. Is continuing to manufacture in America very important to you?
Definitely. There's something fun about actually making something here in the States, not to mention, it gives us a great deal of pride to know we're helping employment within our community.