Behind the Brand with Clayten Willington

Behind the Brand with Clayten Willington

Posted by Kolby Harris on

  • Where are you from?

I was born in Red Deer, Alberta. I grew up in Lacombe which is just 15 minutes north of Red Deer.

I went to university in Calgary and met my wife there. My wife is from Moncton, NB, so when oil took off we moved to Moncton, then Halifax a few years later. Now we've come full circle and are living back in Red Deer.

  • What made you start Better Beard Co. and Strix?

So this story is a little long but when we lived in Moncton, I owned my own restaurant. During that time, my wife became pregnant with our 4th child. We discovered he had a rare genetic disorder called Edwards Syndrome. Because of this he had to be born in Halifax at the IWK Children's Hospital. We lost everything in moving and in his care. We lost the house, repo guys came and got the cars, and we had to close the business. When we moved to Halifax, we lived in a student apartment for 2 months because that's how long we thought we would be there. Then we moved into the Ronald MacDonald house.  My son Ezekiel was born 90% blind and 75% deaf.  When you are hit with all this in life, sometimes you get pretty down and just start going through the motions. I hadn't shaved for quite sometime and one day I was bending over my sons crib in the hospital and I rubbed his little hand on my beard and he rolled over. He really liked touching my beard and that became our thing. That's how he knew I was his dad. Around the same time I was sitting in the Ronald MacDonald House apartment thinking "if only I could find a way to make an extra 1000 bucks a month we would be okay. I have super sensitive skin and having the beard made me so itchy I would scratch myself to scabs. I started looking for a solution. I tried conditioners and shampoo and nothing worked. I found an article about a company in the states making beard oil. Having been a business owner in multiple start-ups before, I hated buying from the states, getting nailed with the taxes and duty at the door. So I started taking aromatherapy courses and blending oils for myself, all at the same time I was looking for a business to start. My wife said "what about the oil you are blending?" I took 200 dollars to brand and make my first small batch and I built the website myself and sold my first order to Saint Lou's Barbershop. I remember the day that everything went live. It was the same day my 5th child was born. Silas and Better Beard Co went live April 5th, 2014.

Strix actually started life as Citadel Grooming. I started Citadel Grooming because I had started making pomades and shave gel, as well as shave soaps under Better Beard  Co. I noticed that I was missing out on sales and talking to certain people because they would just walk by, see the large BEARD in our branding and they wouldn't even address us. To solve the problem I branded Citadel Grooming. It never really took off. I had some people review the products and we were selling it in a few retailer shops but it was doing nowhere near what Better Beard was doing for us. When we moved back to Alberta I took a serious look at Citadel Grooming and rebranded it as Strix.  We held a brand and identity contest,  got well over 70 designs submitted and Strix was born. I reached out to Ultimate Barber Supply to partner with Strix and Better Beard Co as our main distributor so I could shore up the company where I saw we were at our weakest. Once that was done I could focus on building Strix as a brand. So far we've officially been launched for about 40 days and the feedback has been great.


  • What separates Strix and Better Beard Co. from the rest?

You know, for Better Beard Co, I've had so many emails and testimonials that we are the best product people have found. The scents are unique and all natural, we work hard to ensure all of our products are safe for use and approved by Health Canada. I like to tell people we were doing this before Dragons Den. Before there was a beard company on Dragons Den or Shark Tank, we were one of the first and largest beard grooming companies in Canada. What does that mean? It means you're getting something that works, is proven and reliable. I might be a little biased, but I also think our branding is some of the best in the business.

For Strix, we carried over our same work ethic, dedication and knowledge and poured that into Pomades, Shave Soaps and Shave Creams. When you compare our products to others on the market you can tell we are a premium product. Our water based product constantly gets reviewed as one of the best by independent reviewers.

  • Anything new and exciting you’ve been working on that we can expect to see in the near future?

For Better Beard Co we have a Whiskey Beard Oil launching in the next month that coincides with an album release from one of our favorite bands from Halifax called the Town Heroes.

For Strix, I just finalized the scent for our Matte Texturiser Paste.  Test samples have been sent out to barbers across Canada for our Organic Brush/Brushless Shave Cream.  As I sit here typing this up, I have sitting in front of me the finalized formulas for surf spray and grooming spray.  Those will be sent out for barbers to test shortly as well. People can definitely start looking forward to that.  

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