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The Soapbox Gypsy Story

The thought of opening a barber shop began rattling around my head around 2006. The notion of hanging out, talking streetwear, politics, current events, music, movies, beer and whiskey in a barber shop environment was a very appealing. But the lack of the financial ability to open a barber shop put this idea on the back burner for a few years. In 2010 though the thought creeped back into my head. I designed the crown and arrow logo just to do something to start making this dream become reality. Then in 2011 I read an article about bay rum aftershave and decided when I open up my barber shop this would be a product we carry and use at The Soapbox Gypsy. So I started a batch using a recipe he found online and after three weeks the results were disappointing. So I did more research and found other recipes truer to what bay rum aftershave was when it was used widely in the early 20th century. After 15 or so batches and many tweaks I finally had a product I was proud to share with the public. In February 2012 Soapbox Gypsy posted its bay rum aftershave on ETSY and the rest is history. We expanded their line from there to include small batch, handmade, shaving cream, pre-shave oil, beard oil, mustache wax, beard balm, pomade and bergamot aftershave. Later in 2012 Soapbox Gypsy started selling on their own website soapboxgypsy.com. This site was designed and built by another owner Ryan Vann.

In early 2013 Soapbox Gypsy was contacted by Urban Outfitters requesting a sample of each product. Urban Outfitters was interested in carrying Soapbox Gypsy products in their online store. Once Urban Outfitters received the samples they placed an order immediately. Being new at business I did not set the wholesale prices in a manner that made sense in the long run and prior to shipping out the fulfillment order we cancelled the contract with Urban Outfitters. All the product was made so Ryan and I challenged ourselves to sell everything we made in two months at full price and we did. We did learn from our pricing mistake and have had our grooming products carried in barber shops worldwide.

Fast forward to 2015 Soapbox Gypsy made a small run of t-shirts for promotion featuring their signature crown and arrow logo. After giving a few out to friends in their hometown they were being asked how much they were. Me growing up being a huge fan of streetwear companies such as Vans, Stussy, The Hundreds, Benny Gold, Rebel 8, The Brooklyn Circus, Iron and Resin etc immediately thought of expanding to t-shirts, hoodies and hats. Me and Ryan being the do it yourselfers that we are we decided to buy a screen printer and make the apparel ourselves. After some trail and error we realized to get the quality we needed the screen printing would need to be left to the experts. Luckily for us our life long friend Donnell Douglas owns the screen printing company Official Ink. After a few meetings over Donnell’s beer of choice Miller Lite we worked out a deal for Official Ink to print Soapbox Gypsy’s apparel.

So now in 2017 Soapbox Gypsy now carries skateboards, flasks, apparel, small batch handmade mens grooming products and other goods. My wife Courtney has joined the Soapbox Gypsy family and helps plan the pop-up shops and events. We are also now looking to finally open up our barber shop as soon as we find the right spot. Whatever may come Soapbox Gypsy will continue to bring an independent line of lifestyle products to the market for years to come. Live, Move…BE Soapbox Gypsy

By Jeremiah Johnston

Owner/Designer