The Gentleman Swine is a new rustic men’s beard care company with an emphasis on supporting local business and giving back to the recovery community through their success.
Born out of the necessity to pick up one’s self up after addiction, The Gentleman Swine, currently focused on men’s beard balms, aims to give back to the recovery community which saved the founder’s life.
After the success of their launch night, we had a chance to sit down with the founder, Rob Coomes to find out more. The pictures below are from their launch night at Sullivan’s Tap House, Louisville, Kentucky.
Hi Robert, let’s start by having you introduce yourself to our readers
Sure! I grew up in the Louisville metro area and after completing my undergrad, my career led me all over the place, including Orlando, Chicago, Nashville, and Portland, before returning to Louisville. I have spent most of my career working for large multinational companies such as The Walt Disney Company and Schneider Electric. I love to travel and spend time outdoors pursuing activities such as hiking, backpacking, camping, snowboarding, etc.
Tell us about The Gentleman Swine, what is it and where did it all start?
The Gentleman Swine was born out of some feedback I received while living in Portland. I had taken a break from the corporate world and was working for a local pub called The Ram’s Head. During our Christmas gift exchange, I decided to do something creative, and made up my own beard balm to give out as gifts, as most of the male workers in the pub had beards.
After the gift exchange, a kitchen manager asked me if I had thought about selling it. I had some extra product, took it down to a bar in downtown Portland where I met an acquaintance and ended up selling my first tin of product.
Where did the name come from?
The name is actually a double entendre: first off, my mother raised me to be a gentleman, but as my personal story can reflect, I have also been a bit of a swine. Secondly, I wanted the brand, as well as the logo, to have a feel of both Jekyll & Hyde: that while there was this nice guy on the surface, there is something he’s hiding, too.
One aspect of The Gentleman Swine is giving back to the recovery community, tell us more about that, who are the charities, and what’s your recovery story?
I developed this company as a way to do something productive with my time. Last April, I moved back to Louisville to focus on my recovery and was unemployed. I struggled for many years with addiction and moving home, at the urging and with the support of my amazing mother, I was able to start to turn my life around.
I had the idea to develop the beard balm brand while still being able to focus on my recovery. I also had the idea to give 10% of my profits back to the recovery community in the Louisville area as a way to give back to the community which helped to save my life.
The donation I give is in the form of recovery literature materials, because there are those within the community who do not have the money to buy the literature, which in my experience, has been very helpful to my own personal journey. I also prefer to donate literature versus giving monetary donations to specific charities to ensure the resources get to those that need it versus helping to pay for overhead expenses, etc.
What was your moment of realisation where you were able to begin your recovery journey?
In April of last year, I was at the darkest point in my life. I seriously contemplated ending my life and that experience changed my perception of what my addiction was doing to me as well as to my family and friends. I knew I needed help, and being able to go home after so many years away gave me a landing pad to begin again and really focus on recovery.
Where is your recovery journey taking you now?
I’m still early in my recovery, and for the time being, I have to still focus on taking care of my own sobriety, one day at a time. In time, I hope to be able to become more vocal to help others who are struggling, because addiction and alcoholism are life and death circumstances.
I know today that I don’t have to live like that anymore, and for anyone who is struggling, I want them to know that there is help out there and they don’t have to ever use or drink again if they don’t want to.
Why do recovery charities need support?
Addiction and alcoholism are serious issues… it’s life and death out there. We give back because we want to help educate those in need about a different way of life.
What else is in store for The Gentleman Swine brand, are you planning to expand into other products?
Currently we are focusing on the five beard balm varieties; however, we have been testing a new brand called “Belle’s Body Butter” aimed at the female demographic. Since not all men have beards, this product opens a new demographic group to us. Having issues with dry skin myself, “Belle’s” intends to help women alleviate dry skin with all natural ingredients… the same perspective we have with our beard balm recipe.
Your launch night looked amazing, tell us what happened
Our launch night was a lot of fun and was held at a local establishment in Louisville called Sullivans Tap House. We had live music, a beard competition, and a beer tasting (for those who drink) from a local brewery, Falls City Beer.
We had good attendance as well, especially from the local bearded community and the recovery community, although the temperatures were frigid!
Where can people buy the products?