Designer Product Boxes: Mr Blackman’s
Marc Belle is a creative and product director based in London and Brighton.
Having worked with names like Jimmy Choo, Sony, Diesel and Google, he's no stranger to what good design looks like or what it can do.
Using his creative and business skills, he founded Mr Blackman's - 'No Fuss Men's Grooming'.
No fuss because it's easy to use, and no fuss because they use natural ingredients, no nasty chemicals - and sustainable packaging.
To quote the Mr Blackman's site directly:
We also strive to use suppliers who are eco-friendly, support sustainability, trade fairly and generally follow our own no bullsh*t values too.
What’s your day-to-day look like within the company?
Well, we are only small. For me, most days start with checking email and scanning over the board we have of what things we want to get done that day.
Usually, this gets interrupted with some of the emails that have come in requiring us to shuffle things around. I tend to jump around a bit between things because a lot of things require my attention.
Because of that anything that can save us time is important because we can focus on other things.
Sometimes while I'm working on one thing I'm actually thinking about something else which helps me cover off a few things at once.
What role does social media play for your brand?
Social media is huge for us. It's how most people find us.
We are a very visual brand and don't have a physical store so social media enables us to share that and tell our story.
How do you use your packaging from Packhelp?
For us having impactful packaging was important.
People always comment on the experience of opening one of our plain boxes which is great because that is part of the experience when you order something.
We try to be as sustainable as we can too, whether that is with the ingredients we use or the packaging, so the fact that we can do that with Packhelp is a huge plus.
Why are you different? What makes customers come to you rather than someone else?
With Mr Blackman's the whole idea is "No Fuss".
Often brands can overcomplicate things whereas we try to distil things down to just what is required.
Whether that is the way we make products or the way we package them we try to adhere to that philosophy.
For us there is no point in creating products that talk about simplicity and then over-engineering our packaging.
Of course, we still want to make it look great, but finding that balance for us is key.
Who is your target audience, and how do you get your name in front of them?
Our main customer and target are men with curly hair. Mostly men of Afro/Caribbean heritage but anyone with curly hair.
We decided to do this because there were very few companies providing solutions for this hair type.
Our goal was to change that and provide something for our community.
That said our products can be used by anyone or any hair type.
We chose to be specific about who to target because we are a small team and we wanted to keep our message strong, focus on our main goal and obviously what we knew.
As we grow and can handle more then we'd look to expand on that. For us everything has been quite organic.
People have liked what we do and they have told their friends and family and shared stuff and it has grown.
We don't have huge budgets for major campaigns so most things are at a community level and then someone has a connection or puts us forward for something and things get ratcheted up a bit as more people discover us.
Your branding is simple, bold, and no fuss. Your Instagram is mostly black and white with splashes of colour. Why go that route?
Our entire motto is "No Fuss". Our attitude is "No Fuss".
Too often people get caught up in what they are told to think or do or the way things should be and that just wasn't us.
Our aim was to simplify things, take a step back and remove what wasn't needed. So our branding reflects that.
It does what it says on the tin (or box).
The Caribbean is also full of colour, everything is colourful, the flowers, the landscape, the food, the clothes, the houses, so by having stark white and black packaging it allows our products to stand off of what are typically colourful backdrops.
With Instagram we wanted to feature and highlight our community - the music we listen to, the things we like, the people in our community - not just models but ordinary men who might not necessarily be your typical "model".
It was and still is about inclusion.
But when we started we didn't have budgets to commission lots of content so would borrow other people's images and credit them hoping they would be OK with that.
But because these images were coming from different places we made them black and white to create some sort of uniformity.
But it worked well for us because our whole thing was about inclusion, stripping the colour so you saw the men.
Black and white photography has a way of making you focus on the actual image.
But as our products are usually shot against colourful backdrops it allowed them to pop against the otherwise stark grid of images.
Again we tried not to overthink it and just solve a problem we had.
You create content about nutrition, mental health - how does this relate to your product and brand?
Well beard and hair growth and to be honest skincare and all of it are related.
As they say, you are what you eat. You put good stuff in, you get good stuff out. If you are trying to grow a beard and only eat burgers, pizza and fried chicken you can almost be sure your hair growth isn't going to be what it would be if you ate a little healthier.
Your skin too would be in better condition.
So we think it's important to highlight these things because a product on it's own isn't going to solve your problem.
It's not a magic pill and we want to make it clear that there is some effort on your part to get the growth and healthy beard and skin you want.
The same with mental health. Many men, especially in the Afro/Caribbean community don't talk.
Men are meant to be men and strong. But it can be damaging and stressful which will have an impact on your appearance - you age quicker too.
We look at ourselves as a lifestyle brand that makes men's grooming products, not a men's grooming brand trying to associate a particular lifestyle.
Like I said earlier, we're rooted in our community and culture
What’s next for Mr Blackman's?
We're still very much in the growth stage and hope to keep doing that.
We are expanding our range and hope to continue expanding across the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.