Bevel CEO Tristan Walker on why #BlackDadsMatter now and always

EXCLUSIVE: 'I am a Black father before I’m a Black CEO,' Tristan tells theGrio

Founder and CEO of Walker & Company Brands, Tristan Walker speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2015 - Day 3 at The Manhattan Center on May 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

At a time when #BlackLivesMatter has finally gained the attention it rightfully deserves, folks are looking to brands of all colors to step up to the metaphorical podium and let us know what they plan to do about it.

And while all efforts are appreciated, some companies are heard at more of a whisper. Then there’s Bevel, which gained notoriety for their men’s shave and grooming products catered to the Black man, created by a Black man. 

Bevel has taken more of a say-it-with-your-chest-approach, and Founder/CEO Tristan Walker is the voice. He can be heard on Instagram, Twitter, and even CNBC speaking about not only justice for the Black community, but the work that needs to be done to heal it and where Bevel fits in.

READ MORE: Fathers of NBA players discuss raising strong Black children

Also instrumental in his plans to promote healing — his duties as a father. All fathers matter, but Black fathers are tasked with a whole other set of responsibilities to their children that involve life or death stakes. Tristan, a father to two young boys, doesn’t stop being a father when he enters the Walker Brands boardroom and his boys are in truth the driving force behind his business model. 

While continuing to trailblaze for Black men, women, brands and communities Tristan caught up with theGrio.

theGrio: You’ve been tweeting about helping to raise funds for organizations fighting systemic bias and inequality with P&G. Can you expound on this campaign and what organizations are involved?

Tristan Walker: At Walker & Company, we’re committed to real change and I’m proud to say that we are donating to both the ‘Know Your Rights Camp’ and Black Lives Matter Global Foundation to support the fight against systemic bias, racism, and inequality against Black women and men. In addition, we’re also close to announcing details soon around a program to bring mental health services to our community during this time.

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For Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. For the countless other Black brothers and sisters we’ve lost. And for those of us fighting here today. We’re committed to effecting real change and shining a spotlight on the systemic oppression and injustices toward Black people in America. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Bevel is donating to two organizations that are crucial in the fight against injustice, inequality, and systematic racism: Know Your Rights Camp (@yourrightscamp) and Black Lives Matter (@blklivesmatter).⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Everybody has a role to play in this and we encourage all of our friends and loyal followers to donate, raise your voices, have those important conversations with those around you, and continue educating yourselves on the issues. Keep up the fight. ✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

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theGrio: What do you feel is your duty as a Black father vs. your duty as a Black CEO during this time?

TW: I am a Black father before I’m a Black CEO, because my family always comes first.  

And my desire to teach my sons about the way the world is, share how the world should be, and leave them with a legacy that they can be proud of is what drives how I lead as a Black CEO.  As the leader of a company that is dedicated to supporting Black men and women, I have to actively speak out and promote activities and initiatives that will make our lives better.  

How can I teach my sons the importance of having a voice and being the change you want to see if I’m not modeling that in both my roles as father and CEO?

READ MORE: Will Smith gets emotional on special Father’s Day episode of ‘Red Table Talk’

theGrio: How has being a father shaped your approach to your business?

TW: My sons inspire and motivate me to be the best version of myself.

My sons inspire me to create a better world for them and all of us. When they grow up, they can walk down the beauty and grooming aisles with a sense of pride that comes from knowing that the products that they deserve are available for them. I want them to know that Walker & Company products (Bevel and FORM Beauty) are made with their needs first in mind and that they too can not only be consumers but also producers. 

theGrio: What approach should Black fathers take to discussing the Black lives lost, the protests, and the overall state of circumstance the Black community is in right now with their children?

TW: My sons are young (5 and 9 months), so we haven’t had all of those discussions just yet. I think that the best way to approach any conversation is with honesty and integrity. 

A few years ago, we had the opportunity to work with Bishop TD Jakes with Bevel, and he said something that really struck me: “Any time a boy can’t see the future, he becomes self-destructive.” As a Black father, my aim is to always speak with honesty, integrity, and show my sons that they have a future. To always leave them with hope.

theGrio: What’s a life lesson every Bevel man should learn?

TW: Learn how to live confidently. Support products and brands that speak to you and your needs. Live by your values. Lastly, if you can’t find what you need, from a brand, product, or service, make it yourself.

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