28th December 2021
Shane Carnell-Xu and Jake Xu, founders of SHAKEUP COSMETICS tell Gavin Smith, senior associate solicitor at THRINGS, all about the growth of their skincare brand for men.
Gavin Smith: What is Shakeup – when was it first created and why?
Shane Carnell-Xu: Shakeup Cosmetics, which we launched in 2019, is a range of hybrid skincare and makeup products designed specifically for men. The ethos behind Shakeup is to challenge the gender stereotype of what masculinity should look like. And we want to provide for the growing number of male consumers who want high quality skincare products.
Jake Xu: The whole idea has been a personal journey for us; we both suffered from rosacea when we were teenagers and we used products to cover up our skin flare-ups to help us feel more confident. But we both really struggled to find products we could relate to as men – it was all aimed at women.
GS: So, you discovered there was a gap in the market, but what experience did you have in this highly competitive beauty world?
SC-X: Prior to Shakeup, we ran a marketing agency in Bath called Ready. We were lucky enough to work with some big beauty brands, which gave us an insight and some contacts into the industry. But it was hard work nonetheless – from our initial research to launch took us two years. GS: What was your starting point?
JX: As British Asians, we knew that Asia was ahead of the UK in men’s cosmetics, so our journey started there. We saw how the influence of K-Pop (Korean pop music and culture) meant that boys and men wanted to look good and that the Asian beauty industry understood the importance of male skincare products. What we didn’t know, of course, was whether it would translate here in the UK.
GS: And did it? What has been the response from the UK?
SC-X: The response has been incredible, which shows us how important it was to bring the brand to market. And, the other interesting thing has been how popular our brand has been in Asia. British brands have real kudos in Asia and, as all our products are made in the UK, they are seen as having retail prestige.
GS: Why do you think that launching product targeted for men has been so important – couldn’t men simply use the same products as women?
JX: Our research led us to identify the differences between male and female skin – our skin is thicker with bigger pores. And we shave more, taking off the top layers of our skin each time. Taking all this into account means that the formulation of male skincare has to be different from that for women.
GS: So, what’s next for Shakeup?
SC-X: We’ve listened to our customers, so we are broadening our product range. And we are also looking to expand into other territories as the demand from other countries grows.
GS: What are you both most proud of?
SC-X: We are immensely proud of building a brand which is disruptive – not following the market but creating a challenger brand.
JX: We are proud that we have a purpose to the brand; a percentage of our profits goes towards the charity Look Good Feel Better, an organisation helping people to feel more confident after cancer treatment.
SC-X: And we are very proud that we are growing this brand from Bath. This is our home and we are so pleased that we didn’t need to move elsewhere to make it a success.
GS: And what would you say to those men out there who haven’t yet tried male skincare products?
JX: Men are much savvier now about taking care of their skin. We would encourage more men to try products not simply to enhance their looks and increase their confidence but as part of a healthy lifestyle routine. We would say… try it and you won’t look back.
Want to know more get in touch with Gavin Smith here.