Bevel founder Tristan Walker shares the best business advice he ever received: "sign your own checks."
Tristan Walker just hit his 30s and he’s already thinking of the legacy he wants to leave behind in 150 years. The CEO of Walker & Co. Brands spoke at the Money & Power Expo at the ESSENCE Festival this weekend and shared how he’s creating a company with generations in mind. “A lot of people ask me about [my five-year plan] and it’s always hard for me to answer,” he said. “I see very clearly what we’re going to look like 150 years from now and, like, 12 months from now.”
“I tell my team all the time: our five-year plan is just a well-executed 12-month plan,” Walker explained. “And looking at 150 years from now, I’m just thinking of my brand. I wanna build a company, a brand that people would be proud to support. I say that with subtlety but also incredible importance.”
His company is home to Bevel, an uber-popular shaving system that he founded in 2013. Bevel is marketed specifically to men of color who struggle with razor bumps whenever they shave. After starting out as a subscription service, Bevel was picked up by Target in 2015. Last year, Walker raised $24 million from celebrity investors and venture capitalists who didn’t even understand the concept of razor bumps in the first place -- the latter were mainly, if not all, white men.
“I’m 32 in a couple of days and I can say with assured confidence that I’ve never had a brand that I was proud to support,” Walker said easily. “There are a lot of companies and brands that I love but I can’t say that I’m proud to support them. I think of my mom when I was growing up. She had the Soft Sheen Carson and the Soul Train, she had all these brands that she was proud to support.”
“Can we build the first company and brand that this generation and future generations will be fundamentally proud to support? How much is that worth?”
Tyler Perry is responsible for dropping a gem that Walker has carried with him throughout the growth of Bevel. “Sign your own checks,” he recalls. “I look at every single transaction that my team makes, I sign every single check that comes in. All the way down to the utility bill.”
“It’s one of those very subtle, obvious, bits of advice that no one seems to follow and I think it’s served us well. Until we become what we wanna become we need to be tight on that; it needs to be a part of our values,” continued Walker. “You know who he got that little piece of advice from? He got it from Oprah and she’s doing pretty well for herself.”
We would say so, Tristan. And you aren’t too far behind.