Dallas bath-and-body magnate Niven Morgan has finally developed a line of beauty products for men. If only women won’t stop buying it up
The last 12 months have been busy for Niven Morgan in the best possible way. In 2013, he was named one of the most fashionable men in Dallas by DFWStyleDaily.com, owing to his stylish way of dressing. But it’s what’s under the clothes he’s most proud of.
We’re talking about his skin.
Niven Morgan — his eponymous, Dallas-based skincare company, now 15 years old — has taken off in ways that surprise even him. Not only have his products been in demand (both retail and with private-label formulations), but he’s finally expanding into a market he’s long hoped to: a men’s program.
“We’re progressing so quickly,” he says with a hint of amazement. “The momentum this year has been great. We have to start now to get the products through their testing and stay focused on the new products.”
It may seem like a no-brainer — a gay male skincare maven doing a men’s line — but the process took longer than you (or even Morgan) would imagine. What really triggered it was his own self-interest: He wanted a product for someone just like him.
“That was it exactly,” he laughs. “I had done this for 14 years and didn’t have any men’s products, and I thought, ‘I run a bath and body company! Why not?’ We didn’t do market research — it was [just me deciding to do it].”
It’s less simple than it sounds. As with fashion, the majority of body products are more tailored to females than males. But as a fashionista himself, Morgan knew there was a place for it. In less than a year, it has shown great growth.
“It takes a good bit longer to launch a men’s product,” he says. “But there are times I want things for myself — it’s just a question [whether] I want them bad enough. We try to do things we are interested in and really like. It’s a lot more fun and makes it easier to sell. We’ve had thousands of requests for reed diffuses, and we’ve never done them because it’s not something that interests me.”
So what’s the difference between men’s products and those for women? In part, it’s the fragrance — or so you’d think.
“We developed the Rule 1807 fragrance based on New Orleans as more masculine-scented. We did the facial product fragrance-free but, other products contain scent representing the mahogany and voodoo and aromas of the bars in New Orleans,” Morgan says. But that doesn’t mean only men like those aromas.
“The women are wanting the men’s line! The customer base is 50-50,” he says. “Women ask, ‘Why can’t I use the cleanser and moisturizer?” I say you can, but not the shave cream.
It was formulated for [the tougher beard of] men.”
In addition to women, gay men (and those reliable allies, the straight “metrosexual”) are a target market. Morgan says they continue the seek out quality products and care about their appearances.
“I was standing in Sephora recently, and I noticed a couple guys go directly to the men’s product, and they were reading about it — not just picking it up and taking to the counter,” he says. That inspired him to provide more information about the product on the outer packaging (and to make it more readable). “I also like to give a little quote about each product we created for the men’s section — it gives us more credibility. For [the hair care products], I actually created an entire story that’s always been in the back of my head.”
Body products are more about stories and grooming, though, and are essential to overall health. Especially during cold months like now, a regimen for men is essential to preserving your skin’s vitality.
“Moisturizing the face is so important,” Morgan says, especially considering men shave almost daily. “Every time I take a blade I think, ‘It’s a piece of metal scraping something off my face.’ Why would you skip good maintenance? It helps to maintain and your skin looks better without that dry flaky look.”
Men also tend to forget their hands — a key area to preserve health and youthfulness.
“I love our hand cream. I noticed over the [recent period of winter weather] that I cannot do without my hand cream. We’re actually working on a new version that is hydromoisturizing. Any water-based products [have changed to aloe vera-based]. The moisturizing effect is so much better.” And he hopes to see more on the way.
“I want to see the men’s line expand,” Morgan says. “We have a collection of lavender-mint men’s products — candles, room sprays, bath salts — coming [soon]. I think it’s gonna be big.”
And all men who look for more choices without browsing through the women’s section will be forever grateful.
LAFCO LAUNCHES HOMEOPATHIC SOAP LINE
For 22 years, Jon Bresler has been, as he calls it, “chief bottle washer” for LAFCO, a homeopathic skincare company known most for importing fine European bath products. But after Bresler and his partner, Vincent LaRouche (who is the creative director for LAFCO) launched a popular line of scented candles a few years ago, Bresler developed “an expertise in fragrance.” And now, LAFCO has combined those skills to produce it’s own line of homeopathic soaps and lotions.
“What makes our candles unique is the quality of perfumed oils we use,” Bresler explains from his boutique in Highland Park Village. With his contacts in Europe, he was able to develop equally good products for his skincare line.
The liquid soaps and lotions, which launched just two weeks ago (the bar soaps arrived last year), are made with high-quality olive oil and palm oil, and is milled with almond oil, “a superfood the body needs,” he says. The high pH in the formulation is ideal for eczema and dry skin, which a quarter of Americans suffer from. Likewise, the liquid soaps are virtually free of sulfates (a petroleum-based detergent) and are ideal for the skin. But don’t expect LAFCO soaps to froth like a bubble bath: “Soaps lather,” he explains. “Bubbles are the enemy.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 14, 2014.