BYRD Founder Chase Wilson on GQ Award and getting back to Newport roots

BYRD, a brand rooted in gentlemen’s grooming products that harken back to past eras, recently got recognized by one the largest men’s publications out there — GQ Magazine.

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BYRD’s product offering has expanded since its initial launch in 2012.

The Southern California brand received GQ’s 2017 Grooming Award for its hydrating body wash, with three other products receiving a nod from the iconic publication, including the classic and matte pomades and the texturizing surfspray.

Founder Chase Wilson says the brand standing out amongst thousands of other products has been “surreal.” The evolution of BYRD, which first hit the market in 2012, has seen some big twists and turns, including the introduction of the “BYRD Bath” collection, and recently the brand’s return to its hometown of Newport, California, with a new barbershop location.

Wilson, who grew up in the area, says he is excited about entering this chapter with BYRD. He spoke to us about the recent high-level recognition, what it means for the brand’s future and BYRD’s strategy entering the new year.

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Inspiration inside the brand’s return to Newport.

This is your second year being recognized by GQ – What does it mean to be acknowledged at this level?

It’s definitely an honor. We were announced as GQ's breakout grooming brand in 2016 and now four BYRD products have been GQ approved. Knowing that you stand out amongst thousands of products that come across their desk is surreal. It's the ultimate signification that you're hard work is paying off.

How does it increase the brand’s reach?

Considering GQ is recognized as the destination for men's fashion and is loyally read by millions of guys nationwide, there is definitely a measurable upside when they get behind a brand. Even though the BYRD is rooted in surf culture, it's relatable to the stylish gentleman who takes that extra step with his grooming routine; and that sums up the GQ market.

@GQ approved — again. ⚡️

A post shared by BYRD Hairdo Products (@byrdhair) on

BYRD’s bath collection has seen a bit of an evolution. Can you discuss what that has looked like from initial launch through today? What has improved and why?

Initially, BYRD Bath was packaged in aluminum bottles and we noticed they would easily get dented and damaged in shipping. To eliminate the issue for our customer, we entirely redesigned the bottle and moved to plastic. We also we're able to improve our retail pricing on the bottle from $22 down to $20. Since this re-launch in September, we've had a great overall response from our customers and we're really excited to build

Have you made any additions to the product offering or do plan to do that in the near future? If so, what specific product types are you honing in on?

At the start of this year, we felt like we had a solid foundation with our product assortment. Rolling out a new product launch is very intensive so I wanted to focus our time, energy and resources into expanding our market share with our existing product line-up. With that being said, we're always brainstorming new product ideas that make sense to our lifestyle and we do have some exciting new products that we're testing in haircare and skincare. The vision has always been hair to toe.

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It's the ideal space and there is a lot of history there,” says Chase of creating the Newport flagship location.

You recently opened a new barber shop in Newport. Can you explain the thought process behind opening a new location and how that’s been going?

I've always wanted to build a retail flagship for the brand and it had to be in Newport Beach where I grew up and where the idea for BYRD all started. Our HQ (where The BYRD's Nest got its nickname) was stationed in Culver City for the last 3 years and when the opportunity to move to back to our roots in Newport Beach presented itself, we jumped at it. We took over my dad's old office that he had for the last 20 years. It's the ideal space and there is a lot of history there. The goal was to create an environment where our customer could not only come in for a quality haircut, but also get to know our products and experience the lifestyle behind the brand.

byrd gq award

The brand plans to continue its presence in LA with the Culver City location. Photo: BYRD

What does your retail strategy look like at the moment and how do you see that strategy evolving in the next year?

Since the grand opening of The BYRD's Nest in Newport Beach, we've already opened our second location in Culver City at the Platform. It's a small one chair shop built out of a repurposed shipping container. We wanted to keep our footprint in LA, especially in Culver City where we already had an audience. Our strategy from here is to create experiences where customers can come interact with the brand, test product, and, most importantly, receive a good cut with good conversation. We want our customers to feel and be a part of the Flock; and that starts with us creating great products and delivering quality experiences at our Nest locations.

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