Welcome to The Holy Black Trading Company, the place for innovative, small batch grooming products made specifically for men. My name is Stefan Vincent, and I started this company in early 2013. I've always had a fascination with old school barbers and barbershops. My grandfather and his brother were barbers in Brooklyn when they moved here from Italy, and when I was old enough to shave I inherited their old straight razors and strops. It took me a long time to learn how to hone them and use them, eventually I amassed a serious collection of vintage barber gear and was hooked on the whole idea of wetshaving and the grooming practices of a bygone era.
Soon my bathroom cabinet was overloaded with aftershaves, creams, soaps and brushes. Boxes of vintage straight razors seemed to multiply on their own, and I became obsessed with finding older, more unique items. I started restoring them and giving them away as gifts and even sold a few on a commission basis. I eventually pared my collection down to a manageable number and started experimenting with different shaving soaps, creams and aftershaves in search of the elusive perfect shave. Once I tried just about every product I could get my hands on, and knew what I liked, I started buying unscented creams and mixing my own scents with essential oils and different additives. I found that adding a little castor oil to my lather helped to hold it together, and eventually I took to making my own products to cater to my tastes.
I am a Bay Rum fanatic, to me, the most classic of all barbershop scents. The history of Bay Rum is fascinating, and I found out that many classic barbers would have their own formula. I started right away on my own batch. I decided to use American Whiskey instead of rum as a nod to the barbers of the old west. I ordered pimenta racimosa leaves from the west indies, I picked juniper berries that grew in my yard and I steeped countless bottles of my own Bay Rum concoction. I gave a lot of them away as gifts and still have a few bottles in my personal stash. Eventually people started running out and asking if I could sell them some. Unfortunately, steeping giant batches of leaves and berries in my tiny little shop was unsustainable so I ordered over 100 samples of fragrance and essential oils and went to work finding the ones that I found to be the most pleasing and close to my original formula. I also started to experiment with other classic scents like sandalwood and the original formulas for discontinued or altered classics.
I wanted my aftershave to have the look, feel and most importantly smell of something you would see in a barbershop during the glory days of barbers in the 1800's. Everything I make is designed to emulate the aesthetic of gold rush barbers, from the days when your barber was also your dentist and your surgeon, when the barber was the most important person in the whole town. I started printing my own labels on brown paper and buying amber apothecary bottles. I opened up a small webshop and was pretty surprised when the orders started flooding in. I expanded the product line to four signature scents that I felt embodied the type of manly stuff you would find at the time, with a bit of a modern twist. I experimented with the scent of woodsmoke and gunpowder.
The name, The Holy Black, comes from cowboy action shooting, where everyone shoots black powder guns, with the advent of smokeless powder and pyrodex, many people switched to the easier, cleaner, more modern gunpowder. The true purists though, only shoot real black powder, and if you ask them what they use in their six shooters and lever actions, their reply is invariable, " I only shoot The Holy Black." I had never heard that term, and I loved the sound of it.
The production of so much product got to be more than I could handle, and things eventually got completely overwhelming. That is a story for another time, but in the end, I brought my brother in as a partner and we are currently in the process of revitalizing and relaunching the company. I hope you will join us on our journey to make The Holy Black a household name, and a worldwide brand.