Interviews

Published on June 17th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Reuzel Co-Founders Leen & Bertus On How They Created A Top-Selling Men’s Care Product Line

Leen and Bertus — the creators of Reuzel — started learning men’s haircutting as teenagers. Combining classic barbering with rock & roll influence, kustom kulture and various cool subcultural influences, Reuzel’s founders opened the local yet influential barbershop named “Schorem Haarsnijder en Barbier.” Ultimately Leen and Bertus would expand beyond their shop in Rotterdam, Holland and launch the internationally-renowned line of tonics, shampoos, conditioners, hair-greases, motion and other very-cool male-targeted products under the Reuzel brand name.

I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with both Leen and Bertus, and highlights from that interview are below for your reading pleasure. More on Reuzel can be found online at www.reuzelpomade.com.

Where did the brand name Reuzel come from? It’s Dutch, right?

Bertus: “Reuzel” is the Dutch word for “lard” and is a wink to pomade ingredients from the past when pomades were made from animal fats and fragranced with apples. The word “pomade” actually comes from the French word “Pomme,” meaning apple. The big difference is of course that Reuzel made FOR beasts, not of them.

Where did your interest within the men’s care world first come from?

Bertus: I’ve been dropping hair on the floor for 30 years now, started at the tender age of 14 giving free haircuts to my skateboarding friends trying to get them laid… To be honest, I now think most of the haircuts I gave back then actually kept them from losing their virginity… (laughs)

Is there a better way of referring to Reuzel products than “men’s care?”

Bertus: We like to call it the “premium brand for subcultures.” Of course it a men’s grooming brand and of course it makes you look your best, but it’s above all a brand that stands for individuality and a specific way of walking to the beat and rhythm of life.

To you, what separates your brand from other male-targeted brands?

Bertus: Reuzel started in the kitchen of our barbershop, not in some factory or design office, I actually almost burned the whole place to the ground, but thát’s exactly what the brand is to us, the D.I.Y. mentality… We’ve always tried to make products that we as barbers needed and with a combined 60 years of experience we wanted to have an honest product to go with our working class ethos: “Handmade work always tells the truth.”

Where do you source your products from?

Leen: We always start from what we think we need in the shop on our clients, we get input from our barbers and our clients as well when we travel from barbers around the world. We are also lucky to have our own Barber Academy named “The Old School,” so we have 10 different students usually from at least 5 different countries and backgrounds so also different needs hair-wise, which we all take into account with sourcing new products.

Do you have a favorite of the Reuzel products available?

Bertus: I’m going to answer this one as a barber and not a potential patron because first, I’m bald and two, we consider every patron to be unique so it wouldn’t make much sense to choose one particular product. That said, the product I would miss the most would be the grooming tonic because of its versatility. You can use it as pre-blow-dry lotion, but it also mixes with every other Reuzel product and it will create an insane shine when use as a top layer.

What does the rest of 2019 look like for Reuzel?

Bertus: Man, we’re super-stoked about our new products coming out and we have s**tloads of cool stuff on the agenda. Some collaborations with amazing artists, we’ll be working on a lot of festivals around the world, the bliss of spreading the greasy gospel never ends.

Is there a career accomplishment you are most proud of?

Bertus: (laughs) Believe it or not but this chubby, bald old bastard became an underwear model this year, proving that literally EVERYTHING is possible. Not even kidding, check my Instagram.

When not busy with Reuzel how do you like to spend your free time?

Bertus: Free time..? Never heard of her. (laughs) I know it might sound like a huge cliché but I actually enjoy working for Reuzel so much I can hardly call it work, I get to plan and do video/photoshoots, I get to cut hair, I get to travel and I get a s**tload of inspiration from reading — comic — books and watching movies and shows, visiting art museums, skateboarding. Everything I do in life is somehow a part of the brand, so basically I work just as much as I have fun, no time to sleep when you’re living the dream, man.

What was the last concert you attended for fun?

Bertus: Last night, Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers with The Colonel J.D. Wilkes, best frontman in the universe.

Finally, any last words for the “kids”?

Bertus: Buying a guitar is not gonna make you a rockstar. No matter what profession, art or craft you may choose, success takes practice and time, choose your career for the right reasons, you can only ever be the best if you give your best. And eat your veggies!


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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident (and Long Island native) with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer.Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He is a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer.Darren is also the host the recently-launched "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with PureGrainAudio.


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