When Calvin Quallis first launched Scotch Porter in 2015, there wasn’t a huge space for Black grooming products. He began his journey in the grooming field as a barbershop owner, a line of work that he learned from his mother, a beauty shop owner. Working inside the barbershop, Quallis noticed the lack of products that served his customers who often had hair textures that were coarse and dry. He wanted to develop a hair care system that would soften and care for their natural textures.
He understood that Black men need self care, too. What at first started as a passion project quickly grew into a million-dollar business. Today, Scotch Porter is sold not only on the brand's site but at also at Walmart, Target and Amazon.
EBONY caught up with the grooming entrepreneur to learn more about why he created a self-care brand for men.
EBONY: What made you want to create a grooming brand?
Calvin Quallis: My passion for helping men to feel their best was born out of observation and my firsthand experience as a barbershop owner and as a kid in my mom’s beauty shop/barbershop. There, I watched my mom and the other stylists transform the customers that walked into the shop, leaving them feeling more confident than when they first entered. The barbers and stylists had this unique ability to help people feel better about themselves. That experience is ultimately what inspired me to create Scotch Porter.
When I first opened my barbershop, I almost immediately spotted an issue. Lots of our customers were walking into the shop with hair and beards that were a bit dry and frizzy. At the time, men were beginning to experiment with and grow out their beards but weren’t really taking care of them by keeping them moisturized and groomed other than the weekly or bi-weekly trim and upkeep at the barbershop. I went home and learned everything I could about natural ingredients and which were the best for moisturization, strengthening and defrizzing. I began crafting and sharing the products created in my kitchen with the barbers and customers of my shop and leveraged their feedback to refine and build out our products.
When we launched Scotch Porter, the team and I had absolutely no clue what lay ahead of us. There was no money. This was a passion project. We had this intense desire to bring what we believed to be an especially important mission—to help men look and feel their best and live their best, most fulfilled lives. We launched in our barbershop and then direct-to-consumer starting strong with beard care products and we did well. We then launched one or two haircare products, and that did well. Within the first 12 months of operation, Scotch Porter generated more than a million dollars in sales and has been growing rapidly ever since with distribution in major retailers such as Target and Walmart. In fact, by the end of 2022, we were the fastest-growing male grooming brand in hair and beard at retail.
How does it feel when you see someone purchasing your products?
It’s an amazing feeling to see our products on the shelves and in customers’ hands. Over the holiday, I was at the checkout and saw a woman with 4 of our products in her hand telling the cashier that she was buying some last-minute items for her hubby. I snapped a picture as a keepsake. Seven years ago, this was just an idea. I was in my kitchen mixing products, and here I was witnessing the blossoming of this plant that was once a seed. All the hard work, watering and care that the team has put into this has manifested into what will become a tree. It’s so gratifying, and it’s a powerful testament to what’s possible when we speak on it and act with intentionality, goodwill and passion.
Where do you see the brand going in the next five years?
I started this business as a little hobby many years ago trying to solve some of the grooming issues that our customers had in our barbershop, but as the business has grown and I’ve grown personally, I now understand that business doesn’t have to be self-serving and that it can be a tool leveraged to change your life and your family’s life, and also have an impact on others’ lives as well.
That said, what excites me the most about the future of Scotch Porter is our opportunity to play a part in making millions of people’s lives better with our products, including our launch into skincare and with the information that we provide our customers on the daily. Also, we're excited to have added real value to our customers' and communities' lives by way of our Social Impact Fund. Since its launch in 2022, we’ve donated over $268,000 and impacted roughly 46,000 lives through partnering with forward initiatives in the areas of job and education training, entrepreneurship and recidivism.