Hold Fast Bay Rum Aftershave
My love for barbershop culture began in the 80s when my dad would take me along with him to get a nice high and tight cut. The shop we frequented was in my hometown of Herndon, Virginia. After a fresh straight razor shave or clean up, the barbers would splash their clients with Pinaud’s Clubman Virgin Island Bay Rum Aftershave. That classic smell stuck with me and led me to create my own old school brand of barbershop products.
Into my 30s I never lost sight of my dream. I had visions of my own shop with its own unique smell. The name for my shop was Soapbox Gypsy. Why? You might ask. Being a very outgoing opinionated individual, I was often said to be “standing on my soapbox”. And gypsy because I don’t believe in borders.
In 2010, I partnered up with my childhood friend and we created Soapbox Gypsy. Since the barbershop culture was a part of my vision, I wanted to create my own line of grooming products that I would sell and use in my barbershop. Prior to Gillette, Old Spice and Pinaud’s, barbers made their own aftershave and shaving cream. Each barber’s was slightly different. After many years of research and trial and error, I created the Hold Fast Bay Rum Aftershave, Soapbox Gypsy’s first product. From there I created the rest of the Hold Fast line.
The History of Bay Rum told by The Art of Manliness
The history of bay rum is as manly as it smells. Sailors in the 16th century discovered that the West Indies bay leaf made a great perfume to freshen up and mask the stink they acquired while being stuck on a ship for months. To apply the scent to themselves, the sailors would rub the dry leaves on their body, thus leaving the fragrant oil on their skin. While sailors were rubbing leaves on themselves, farmers were cultivating boat loads of sugar to be shipped back to Europe. A few enterprising plantation slaves discovered that molasses, a byproduct of sugar, could be fermented into a sweet alcoholic beverage.
Brewers on the islands took the slaves’ crude recipe, distilled it, and made it 10 times stronger, thus creating the rum we know today.Tired of having to rub bay leaves on himself like a weirdo, some sailor got the idea that rum would make a great liquid to steep the bay leaves in to extract their essential oils and make an easy-to-apply cologne. And with that, bay rum was born. Islanders took this basic recipe and began adding their own olfactory flourishes by mixing in cloves, citrus rind, and cinnamon.
From the West Indies the scent spread to the rest of the world and became popular among men as an aftershave scent. Barbershops in America developed their own unique version of bay rum aftershave to slather on their patrons so they walked out smelling awesomely manly after getting their straight razor shaves. And if you check the medicine cabinets of men born before 1950, there’s a good chance you’ll find a bottle of bay rum in it. great for your hair, skin, and even your beard.
Owner/Designer – Soapbox Gypsy