Today we’d like to introduce you to Rocky Collins.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m from Camden, New Jersey which is a place that’s always ranked in the top 5 of America’s most dangerous cities. My parents did everything they could to provide me with opportunities that they never had themselves. I even used an uncle’s home address to go to a school in a better district. In school, I was always the class president, sports team captain, and also the down-to-party type. After high school, I went on to Penn State University and had an amazing four years of just learning about myself and about life. Those were some of my best times and also some of the most painful.
Career-wise I didn’t always know what I wanted to do, I just assumed it would be in finance or something requiring me to wear a suit. Instead, I ended up landing an internship working in fashion the summer after my junior year and that set me on the path to becoming a fashion buyer. For those that don’t know, fashion buyers/merchants are the people who develop and select the product that is then sold in stores. Every fashion company and retail brand has buyers who are making tons of decisions each day that impact what you can buy, when you can buy it, in which specific colors, and at what price point. After college, I really had a dream job and a really fun life living in New York City. But at some point I had a strong desire for something else that I couldn’t ignore for the life of me.
I had done some work as a television personality in college and after arriving in New York, I had taken up acting classes in a prestigious conservatory program in the city. I honestly have no explanation for why I left a dream job in NYC. I can only say that once I began dragging my feet to work and continually daydreaming about other things, I decided that I ought to take a leap of faith and jump headfirst into whatever is burning in my heart. With no job lined up and barely any savings, I quit an amazing job in New York City and moved to Los Angeles within a month of having my “realization”.
My life in LA has been a roller coaster for sure. When I first landed here in 2016, I immediately begin working as a television personality on Revolt TV so that was a huge platform to introduce me to the city. My life for the next few years had become completely dedicated to pursuing a career in the arts. I was training. I was auditioning. I was booking things. I was also being told “no” almost everyday. I’d been signed to managers. Left managers. Signed to agents. Left agencies.
I had gotten to a point where I could no longer be content with someone else having more control over my life than me, so my focused turned toward producing my own content. To produce your own content, you need money. So I stopped doing the odds and ends jobs that were barely helping me sustain life as an artist. Instead went back to working different freelance jobs within fashion and beauty space.
Last fall (2018) I had switched from a fast fashion company to working at L’Oreal under their men’s grooming brand. I’ve always been into skincare personally and would consider myself as someone who has good skincare habits (shout out to my mother). At this time, I was on the hunt for a new face wash and couldn’t find anything that was fully right for my skin. I tried the super high-end brands and also the drug store brands as well. Most things were either effective but dried out my skin (painfully), or they weren’t any more effective than soap and water. I was also noticing a lot of things that I would have liked to do differently at work. There was a whole group of people – men of color – that were not being catered to. Products weren’t made with our skin types in mind and the marketing damn sure wasn’t built to resonate with us. Those two frustrations – personally not finding a face wash and professionally not seeing a demographic served – led me to the decision of launching my own skincare company.
I had no idea how, but I started with one Google search – “skincare production labs Los Angeles.” I didn’t end up doing business with any of the places from my initial search, but it gave me a starting point. I started calling labs. I started sending emails. A lot of labs didn’t want to work with me because I was too new, too young, or didn’t have enough funding to order 10,000 units minimum. But, some labs were interested. Through trial and error – and NOT compromising product quality and creative – I found a really great production partner with a facility in upstate New York. Together we were able to develop a product that addresses the problems that I was having and in turn a lot of my male friends begin sharing their own hardships with skincare (or lack of skincare all together).
Since then, I’ve gotten such an overwhelming response both professionally and socially. So many people have been vocal about their excitement and the necessity for this brand. I can’t even begin to tell you how floored I am at all of the investors who’ve reached out to me to set up meetings. Seeing prominent investors and even beauty industry heavyweights take interest in my company just furthers proves to me that I am not crazy. What I’m doing is necessary and what I’m doing will make a difference.
Cali Hndsme is a skincare company designed with the specific needs of men in mind. Our products are seaweed-based using many different types of algae. Algae is the new super ingredient in skincare for its purifying and nourishing properties – without harsh chemical processing. Our products are vegan, cruelty-free, sulfate-free, gluten-free, and paraben-free. It is the number one priority for me to help men achieve great looking, healthy, and CEO-level skin without damaging them in the long run.
My personal belief is that when you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you perform better. That can be in the classroom, at the office, or on a date.
I’m very happy to say that almost a year later and we are really close to launching! We wrapped up our first ever campaign shoot where we filmed over two days in Downtown Los Angeles and Malibu.
To avoid any legal conflicts, I left L’Oreal shortly after going into heavy development for Cali Hndsme. I’m currently a fashion buyer at a major fashion brand based here in Los Angeles. I still have my agents and I still audition. I’m still developing scripted projects with my writing and producing partners. However, my main focus right now is on getting Cali Hndsme up and running. This company is not only a passion of mine, but it will also be a source of independence for me to in turn be able to invest in great work and truly put out the type of art that I feel will make a difference in the world. Between my art and my skincare company, I’m just trying to make y’all feel good! Feel accepted, loved, strong, powerful, and confident. Life is really what you make it. No matter the circumstances – you will what you want.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Absolutely not. For starters, when I first moved to LA and was on Revolt TV – I had tons of friends. As soon as the season stopped airing it felt like so many people just disappeared from around me. That was my first lesson in the importance of finding genuine friendships in LA.
Life as an actor has its own challenges. Constant rejection. No stability. But I think you combat those things by really diving into self-producing your own content. Which is what I’m on my path to doing.
With breaking into the skincare industry, my biggest challenge has been getting production facilities to believe in my vision. I didn’t want to make product in my kitchen. I wanted the expertise of a lab. Some bigger labs I couldn’t afford. Some smaller labs couldn’t hit the quality levels that I required. So that was tough. Even knowing when to walk away from a partnership without having another lane available was scary. Stay prayed up and know what’s worth not compromising for!
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Sure! Here’s a quick breakdown of our 3 core products:
FOAMING FACE WASH
Our seaweed-based face wash is infused with algae extracts that purifies while also restoring minerals and vital elements to your skin. This gentle formula is packed with grapefruit, coconut extract, Vitamin C and E to cleanse, revitalize and hydrate your skin.
USE: Apply to wet skin and gently massage in circular motions. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
Algae: hydrates, softens, and detoxifies the skin
Gentle Cleansing Ingredients: grapefruit, coconut, vitamin E
SKIN TONIC TONER
Our gentle toner is packed with anti-inflammatory acids for the ultimate rejuvenating and soothing effects. Powerful agents help combat breakouts while our blend of Lavender, Green Tea and Tea Tree oil help to avoid ingrown hairs and razor bumps.
USE: Spray onto a cotton pad and apply to the face and neck after cleansing, and especially after a shave.
Green Tea Extracts: a powerful (and natural) antioxidant
Tea Tree: an antiseptic; effective in treating razor bumps and breakouts
Glycerin: if your skin is dry it will pull in moisture, if your skin is oily it will help reduce the oily appearance of your skin
Our lightweight face moisturizer is a super-moisturizing agent that includes a combination of Hyaluronic Acid, Hibiscus and Algae Extracts that hydrate the skin while providing anti-aging effects. Shea Butter soothes while Tea Tree and Thyme Oils help the skin maintain moisture and control breakouts.
USE: Apply to face and neck as desired.
Hyaluronic Acid: helps skin retain as much moisture as possible, feel softer, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles
Vitamin C Boost: accelerates the production of collagen to promote a younger, more vibrant appearance
What were you like growing up?
I was the youngest of 4 and always the over achiever type. I always strived for straight A’s on my report cards. I was always a team captain in sports. I always had this anxiety that I wasn’t doing enough. I always needed to do more. Socially I was never a shy kid lol. I come from a social family that entertained and hosted parties. Me and my two best friends were on the homecoming court in high school. I was on the homecoming court at Penn State University (44,000 undergrads and just 4% black). I always had an interest in business and running a company. I always thought I’d be the CEO of someone else’s, it hadn’t occurred to me back then that I could be the CEO of my own major company.
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @therockycollins and @calihndsme
- Website: www.calihndsme.com