The genesis of Triumph & Disaster, a New Zealand-based men’s grooming products company, started when founder Dion Nash played professional cricket, traveling to the far reaches of the world with the sport.
“I played cricket for ten years,” says Nash, who once captained the New Zealand team. “You stand in the sun all day long, sometimes for five days in a row. You become accustomed to using sunscreen, then showering to get the sunscreen off. Your skin gets irritated and dry.”
When Nash read an article that rocker Rod Stewart attributed the secret of his forever-young looks to a daily slather of Oil of Olay, Nash swiped some from his mother and surreptitiously used it post games, telling teammates that it was more sunscreen. “I didn’t want to get hassled by anyone in the locker room, but it kept my skin from drying out.”
When an injury forced a career change, Nash went to work with 42Below vodka, learning about business–sales, marketing and branding–before the brand was sold to Bacardi. “They wanted me to move to London,” Nash says, “but my wife and I had a young family and didn’t really want to leave New Zealand.”
Nash pondered his future and circled back to his pro sports days, when there was a dearth of men’s grooming products. “I decided I wanted to provide a service to guys by creating products that wouldn’t be embarrassing if they fell out of a gym bag–things you wouldn’t be stealing from your wife or mother.”
Thus, Triumph & Disaster was launched in 2011, the name inspired by a Rudyard Kipling poem given to Nash as a youngster by his father–as well as a metaphor for the ups and downs of pro sports.
He admits there was a bit of self-doubt at first (“I kept thinking–am I really making moisturizer now?”), as well as a few zigzags to get the products right. The first version of the scrub came back pinkish and sweet-smelling. “We decided it had to be black,” recalls Nash with a laugh, “and the second version turned our faces black.” Eventually, it was perfected with a combination of volcanic ash and green clay, and a clean, herbal scent. The scrub joined a moisturizer, a body soap, a cleanser and a shave cream as the first five products. The line has now grown to some 25 products, including paraphernalia like dopp kits and teeshirts.
The products, Nash points out, feature many New Zealand-centric natural ingredients, such as kawakawa leaf extract that calms skin in the body wash, ponga fern leaf extract in moisturizers and the volcanic ash in the scrub, a nod to New Zealand’s crater-filled geography.
The packaging and the branding, though, has a definite rock & roll “tude.” “You might be a banker on a train, but everyone’s got a bit of rebel in them,” Nash says. “We all grew up with punk, grunge and alternative music, so we play to that.”
Indeed, YLF (You Lazy Fuck) body wash is designed for body and hair, with coconut, burdock and kawakawa extracts, plus a sandalwood and neroli scent; the scrub is dubbed Rock & Roll Suicide; and the Coltrane Clay smells like loose-leaf tobacco and keeps haircuts looking sharp.
Triumph & Disaster has been a hit with men–and the line appeals to women, too. “We’re not all beards and chainsaws here,” says Nash. “Many women don’t necessarily like to smell like roses. They like our herbal scent.”
And Nash’s former teammates, the ones who might have razzed him in the locker room for his Oil of Olay bottle? “I sent them our Stash Box sampler of products. They approved.”
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