Meet our Neighbors: Michael Donovan

How did Baxter of California begin?

A gentlemen by the name of Baxter Finley moved out to Los Angeles in the early 1960′s to get a fresh start from his ad executive lifestyle in New York. When he moved out to Los Angeles his skin didn’t adjust too well to the drastic change in climate. He embarked on an exhaustive search around LA – from department store beauty counters to local pharmacies, you name it. With his ad background and “necessity is the mother of invention” type attitude, he created a men’s skin conditioner called, “Super Shape.” Over the next few years, he developed a men’s specific program for skincare – facial scrub, clay mask, face wash, shampoo, conditioner, bar soaps, night cream, shave cream, etc. He truly was a visionary and pioneer. When Baxter Finley was ready to retire around the year 2000 – J.P Mastey agreed to take over the helm and acquired the brand.  Since then, BOC has focused in on trail blazing the men lifestyle, apothecary and premium barber shop categories.

Where can people find your products here in Los Angeles? 

In Los Angeles, you can find BOC products at our barber and shop in West Hollywood, Baxter Finley.  Elsewhere in town, you can also pop up into Barney’s New York, Mohawk General Store in Silver Lake, Unionmade in Brentwood Country Mart and Poketo in the DTLA Arts District.

Why do you guys produce and manufacture in Los Angeles? 

First, BOC has been manufacturing grooming products for almost 50 years in Los Angeles. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. We manufacture our products within about a 30 minute drive of DTLA. It is vital for us to be hands on – so, if we were manufacturing the current line up or developing a new product out of state or overseas, it would be a real challenge from either a hands on perspective or a time perspective to bring them to market. Since it’s all local, we can get into the lab ourselves and sit down with our chemists on a routine basis. That’s a huge advantage.

It seems to me Baxter is booming. How did you guys make men’s grooming cool? 

We made a conscious decision years ago to pivot and focused squarely on men’s lifestyle doors, premium barbershops and apothecaries, which ended up to be a critical and important decision for the brand. When a guy can walk into Saturdays Surf NYC, Unionmade or Haberdash and discover our products anchoring the men’s apothecary, it brings the whole experience into a comfortable environment where guys want to discover. They aren’t held back by if it’s right for them, or if they should be using it. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re constantly being encouraged by men’s culture, media, hit shows and the like – to strive to be and look their best.

Presence is important to us because BOC is a design focused company. We design our products to be beautiful on the shelf without a lot of signage or other distractions – the Pomade Series displays that you guys built allows the product to shine! When someone wants to touch it,  smell it, get their hands into it – we’ve accomplished what we’ve set out to do. Building presence is something BOC also accomplished by opening the Baxter Finley Barber and Shop on La Cienega two years ago. The shop has elevated the BOC brand by providing a physical face (that’s not some dude’s face) along with a presence that can be explored and experienced.

One Response to “Meet our Neighbors: Michael Donovan”

  1. Ted
    August 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    I love Baxter products, cool to see they are your neighbors. I will always pick it up at Saturdays.

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