I first met Chuck at Second Saturdays. His enthusiasm made a strong first impression on me. There is no mistaking his passion, and his community-centered focus.
When our conversation inevitably leads to his work, his passion was on full display. He spoke about the details in his products in a way that I had never thought about. His soaps, for example, come from organic, naturally sourced ingredients, hand-chosen by him to not only provide an amazing scent but an incredible rustic design of the product. Had I ever given consideration to the quality & type of ingredients in soap? If I’m being honest, no. But after talking to Chuck, and seeing his passion for the smallest of details, I immediately knew I had been missing out.
I’m always curious about what inspires the passionate, and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to ask Chuck some questions. I hope this serves to inspire you, the reader. Find your passion, and attack it with the level of care and detail that you get with The Humble Gents.
What inspired you to first get started?
Our youngest, Logan, has extremely sensitive skin. We would watch as his tiny fingers would crack and rashes would spread across his body. After seeing doctors, dermatologists, and an allergist/immunologist, we were left with steroid creams and chemical-filled soaps as the suggestion. Looking for a way to cut down on the chemicals and find something to help him, my wife and I decided to try a more natural route.
We started with natural soaps and lotions but soon found two things; the cost was extremely high and many of them used chemicals and fillers to cut down on costs. With that, my wife actually made the first batch of handmade soap using all-natural ingredients. The soaps she made were phenomenal. They smelled great, washed away clean and she didn’t use any chemicals!
Unfortunately, she was afraid of Lye. I can’t imagine why, I mean, it’s used on pretzels… and may also have an uncanny ability to burn your skin if you mess up. (And yes, I know from personal experience). So, as all good entrepreneurs and partners do, I took her idea and ran with it.
I started making soaps, Northern Woods was actually my first soap. It’s a woodsy scent with Pine, Fir Needle, Jasmine and is infused with ground mustard seed and activated charcoal. Why mustard seed? , I went out and got certified in holistic and homeopathic medicine to better understand the impact certain herbs and spices have when applied to the skin and the hair. Mustard seed is a good example, it is high in magnesium which may help with issues like arthritis. It is also high in Lutein and Carotene so it is very hydrating while also being anti-fungal. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a complete nerd when it comes to these things. I love bringing together seemingly ordinary things to create the unexpected.
Why Soaps, Oils, and Balms?
I am a certified Personal Trainer with a specialty in group fitness and nutrition. I understand how everything we do to our bodies put into our bodies can affect us both now and in the long term. I owned a small Warehouse Gym for a number of years and helped people turn their lives around in so many ways.
The Humble Gents then is a logical extension. What we put on our bodies is just as important to our long term health. The skin is the largest organ in the human body. Everything you put on your skin can be absorbed. Whether it’s toxins and chemicals or whether its vitamins and minerals. So many people are using sub-par products because they can’t afford something all-natural or because they aren’t aware of the impact they’re having on themselves and on the environment.
While my work as a gym owner was helpful, I don’t feel it was nearly as impactful as helping people feel more virial and free in quite the way as my skin and hair care products do. For most people starting the day means taking a shower and getting ready to head out.
Imagine, stepping into a nice warm shower on a cloudy dreary day, the night before still hanging heavy on your eyes. You sleepily picking up a bar of soap, something you’ve done, if your my age, close to 15,000 times before. But this time the scent of lemongrass or peppermint or a forest fill your nose. It awakens your senses, changes your mood.
At the same time the hemp oil, the spices, herbs, and oils are merging with your skin and helping you. From the shower, you head over to do your hair or your manly locks. Again, something you’ve done so many times before. But this time you’re applying that same hemp oil and lemongrass in a way that will bring that shower experience with you into the day.
I am proud that I get to be a part of that experience.
What about your creations are you most proud of?
My proudest moments are when customers write back to me to let me know that this is the only soap or balm they’ve been able to use that didn’t dry them out. When I hear back from people that are going through cancer treatment and they tell me how amazing it was to use our soap and that it left their skin feeling calm and moist. I love it when I have people come up to us at events and tell us how happy they were to find some skin condition clear up after only a few weeks of using soap or a balm.
Really, I am most proud though when my son Logan takes a new bar of soap and shows it to everyone in our family and when I get to create a new scent with one of my kids. I love seeing them be able to be a part of this and how they really pay attention when we talk about the properties of various oils.
What are people surprised to find out about what you do?
I think that most people are surprised to learn that I make everything myself. I try to put up videos of parts of the process, although watching soap cure is about as interesting as watching paint dry. But literally, I infuse some of the oils myself as often as possible, even the packaging of our beard oil is all applied by hand.
Beyond this, most people are surprised when they stumble upon the blog and find out that I’ve written books as well. To me this journey really is about helping people Look Great, Smell Great and Feel Great – To do that takes a holistic approach both external and internal.
What is your biggest motivator?
I think I have a lot of motivators going for me. I absolutely love to see how something as small as a bar of soap can transform a person and bring a smile to their face. I am motivated by the process of creating something that I hope to leave behind to my children long after I’m gone, not just the business but the outreach and humanity of it.
We give 10% of every sale back to various charities. I make sure the kids get to see that. We’re one family in this world. When we have the opportunity to make something, be it money or art, it means that we have the privilege and responsibility to share that with our family. Always be on the lookout for that
How big a role has Rochester played in your creativity?
Man, what a great question. Rochester is an interesting city. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to so many places around the world and somehow always end up here. From a creative perspective, I find so much inspiration here. From other local businesses like Chai Guy Chai and Rohrbach’s Brewery who allowed us to use their products in a couple of our soaps to my own personal experiences which created the man I am today.
If you look at my soaps, or my packaging you’ll notice it’s very rustic and rough cut. The reason is two-fold. For one, I find myself grounded in nature. I often find inspiration for a new scent or a new product when I’m out running. Rochester is unique in that there are not a lot of cities where you can run the streets in the morning and then head out to an amazing trail or park later on. I want to bring a piece of that to people that may not have a chance to get out into nature as often as they’d like.
It’s also because Rochester can be a rough place. I was homeless at 15 and spent that winter living in parking garages and unlocked cars. I thank God that I got out of that situation and was able to turn my life around but those types of experiences play a role and part in everything I make. Beautiful scents of nature in a rough package.