Meet the Childhood Friends Behind Bravo Sierra, the First Military-specific Skincare Line

by The Daily Front Row

Over summer days spent Out East, childhood friends Justin Guilbert and Benjamin Bernet made good on a lifelong promise to one day create something together. Enter: Bravo Sierra, the first grooming venture dedicated to and designed for the well-being of the military community. The Daily Summer caught up with the busy entrepreneurs to learn more about the backstory to the innovative brand.

Justin Guilbert, founder & Co-CEO

(courtesy)

Hi Justin! How has your summer been?
Way better than you would think, considering what the world is going through right now. Fortunately, I’ve been able to quarantine comfortably in our Malibu home and keep our children somewhat entertained!

Did you pick up any new hobbies?
Is doom scrolling a hobby? More seriously, I’ve been able to commit some time to growing our own veggies and flowers. My eldest daughter, Louise, is now an expert in tomatoes and eggplants, and our very slow-made garden pasta sauces are a #1 hit at home.

Tell us about Bravo Sierra, the first ever line of military-approved skincare products?
I believe our military community is a fundamental cornerstone of American society. Bravo Sierra was created to serve those who serve by developing critically relevant innovation with and for our military patrons. We have started with hygiene and safety and are available in US military installations worldwide. We believe that focusing all resources on the intrinsic value of what we make—not the marketing—allows us to deliver high performing, affordable, and outstanding products.

Your grandad, John T. Becker, was a WWII vet. Was he a big inspiration?
An inspiration and a mentor. By his sheer life experience, he showed me how opportunity resides in every instant, no matter the circumstance. He is also the very characterization of a self-made entrepreneur that cherished and seized the American idea in a beautiful, impactful, and outstandingly successful way. The perfect illustration of that “greatest generation” moniker.

Were you interested in grooming before developing Bravo Sierra?
I’m interested in turning our consumer culture into a constructive force that promotes and drives tangible improvement in what, how, and why we make things. Capitalism and free enterprise are incredibly powerful models that can rapidly get perverted or, in my belief, embraced for positive correction and change that betters our society. I also put stuff on my body and face every day…just like everyone else on earth. So yes, I’d say grooming and hygiene have always been of interest!

What’s your personal favorite Bravo Sierra product and why?
Our Antibacterial Body Wipes: the ‘tactical shower!’ The wipes are designed in collaboration with active duty service members. A true field-tested, cooperative effort where the product is perfectly answering an identified need. Product with purpose. I use them every day.

You’ve been friends with co-founder Benjamin since childhood, how did you meet?
He was the cool kid one year ahead of me when I was growing up in Paris. We hung out together in New York in our silly twenties and both ended up working at L’Oréal. I’ve wanted to collaborate for decades!

You created Bravo Sierra over summer weekends at your home Out East, what do you remember about this time?
A simple, dreamy moment in time. I was living fulltime in East Hampton in a bubble of happiness. After nearly a decade of very high intensity living, I had developed and built [coconut water brand] Harmless Harvest and I was sitting still and letting my brain travel. Benjamin and his family would visit and our minds kept coming back to consumer culture, the American experiment, the future of beauty, and CPG [consumer packaged goods] in general. Basically, those useless, open-ended conversations that never really end until one person starts falling asleep. We were two young dads getting our kid-free time for our late-night rambles (i.e. 8pm!). It crystallized into something that made us want to act. We’re natural born entrepreneurs, so it’s hard not to go do what you think, mostly when the idea germinates and blooms into a strong vision.

What does your current grooming routine look like?
Odd and confusing! My wife’s Venus razor blade to shave my neck and Bravo Sierra Hair/Body Wash & Shave on an Olay loofah ball.

Ha! Do you steal many products from your wife?
I can proudly say yes! But I get her all the stuff. I’m a beauty junkie since my L’Oreal years and way more into it than she is! I’m obsessed with products of any type, so our bathroom is a mix of prototypes and absolutely anything I find on Instagram or eComm.

If you need a little self-care to recharge the batteries, what do you do?
Switch the phone off.

Lastly, what’s your perfect day Out East?
A morning dip at Barnes Landing beach with my sister Sydney Albertini—yes, the amazing artist! Cruise over to Quail Hill to pick veggies and fresh flowers. I’d grab more stuff at the Balsam Farm Stand for lunch: a big family meal outside in the shade of our old cherry trees, followed by a ‘sieste digestive’ as we say in France! Slowly wake up and hit Indian Wells beach right about when everyone else packs up to leave for that golden hour before dinner. An outdoor shower, dress up, hit some artsy cocktail hour, bump into friends, and turn the evening into a loose, spur of the moment get together at whoever’s home is closest!

Benjamin Bernet, founder & Co-CEO

(courtesy)

Hi Benjamin! How has your summer been? Did you pick up any new hobbies?
Like many people, between lockdown and the lack of safe public transportation, I purchased a bike and started biking around NYC and I am loving it! I now bike about 10 miles every morning and 25 miles on the weekends. From Soho to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and Central Park, it has been a savior these past few months, both from physical and mental health perspectives.

After so many years in the beauty industry, what was the impetus for launching this brand?
After 15 years of developing products for others, I wanted to create a line of products that I would want to use myself: my dream line-up. That is what Bravo Sierra is for me. Furthermore, I had just become an American citizen after 20 years living in this country—I was born and raised in Paris—and it was important to me to embrace patriotism in a progressive and
inclusive fashion. Giving back to military families and celebrating service members seemed a great way to do this.

Why was it important that the brand be affordable?
We are primarily designed for active duty service members and their families. Supporting them by providing them with high quality, high performing products at an affordable price was our priority.

How do you distribute products to military bases?
Bravo Sierra is distributed through 144 locations on U.S. military bases worldwide, at Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps Exchanges.

What’s your personal favorite product and why?
I’ve developed them myself, so I love them all! But if I had to choose, our Hair Grooming Paste. It has a unique texture and helps you style any kind of hair in five seconds. The best hair styling product in the world, in my humble opinion…

You have an extensive background in the beauty industry, what’s your best insider grooming tip?
When winter comes, I tend to have very dry hands (so dry they tend to bleed!). When my daughter was born, I started using her baby butt rash moisturizer as a hand cream. The results were amazing! My daughter is now five, but I still buy the same baby product every winter.

Bravo Sierra was created over summer weekends at Justin’s home, what do you remember about this time?
Our kids playing with the turtles near Justin and Joy’s pond in East Hampton, Hampton Chutney’s dosas for lunch, and beach lounging in Amagansett. And of course, intense product development work sessions at Justin’s breakfast table! Those were lovely times.

What does your current grooming routine look like?
I’m a pretty simple guy when it comes to grooming—I stick to the essentials. Bravo Sierra Deodorant, Solid Cleanser & Hair Paste, and Terre d’Hermés eau de toilette. And when I go Out East, Bravo Sierra SPF 30 Sunscreen of course!

What else do you do to recharge the batteries during summer?
I spend three weeks every summer in the south of Corsica, a French island next to Sardinia. My wife’s [L’Oréal’s SVP of marketing, Maude Brunschwig] family is native to the island and we stay in their village in the mountains. It is serene and peaceful. The best way to recharge and stay grounded.

What do you reckon will be the next big trend in male grooming and skincare?
At Bravo Sierra, we call it ‘Hygiene & Safety’ or ‘Safe Care.’ With COVID-19 in the current context, personal care habits are changing fast and a permanent shift is happening. Consumers are looking for proven, safe products from trusted brands to help them remain healthy and protected. Hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes are only the beginning. I believe this is
gearing up to be the biggest personal care trend in the next few years.Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on all the latest fashion news and juicy industry gossip.

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