This Ilonggo Entrepreneur is Making Hair Pomades Cool Again
Steak. The Great Gatsby. Hair care. It’d be easy to scan this shortlist for the next few minutes in search of a unifying factor without finding one. But for Earvin Diones, head brewer and founder of Prime Cut Heritage Grooming and Apothecary, this list summarizes the inspiration and guiding principles behind his homegrown brand of male hair products.
Growing up in a society in near-religious awe of the quiffs of David Beckham, James Dean, and Elvis Presley, the Dioneses—that is, Earvin and his brother—quickly found themselves fond of dapper looks. “We have always been trying these looks [out], but soon realized that different people and nationalities have different hair types, thus [making] it a challenge to achieve certain hairstyles,” Diones says.
No, we can’t all be David Beckham.
Hair pomade from an Ilonggo kitchen
Infatuated with the grooming styles of the '20s to '50s and fueled by the splendorous range of old-world visual stimuli found in the movie The Great Gatsby, Diones began the reintroduction of classic grooming and pomade culture to his home province of Iloilo. Working out of his kitchen at home, he started with a trial production in 2015. He didn’t want to put “just some other hair gunk” out in the market for high-schoolers to stick in their scalps.
“The words Prime Cut refer to premium cuts of beef because of my love of steaks,” Diones says. “The very first variants were scented primarily with herbs that were used for cooking steaks.” These herbs were thyme, black pepper, rosemary, and cedarwood, essences, which are still in the tins of Prime Cut pomade available today.
“We use pure essential oils for a unique touch,” he adds. “Preferably we use oils that have benefits [for hair].” So while hair is secured in a certain way, ingredients like thyme and rosemary work to promote hair growth, while cedarwood and lemongrass provide an antibacterial and revitalizing effect.
Earvin says that Prime Cut products are for any man who shares the same penchant he has for the classic look. “There has always been a stigma that if a man uses grooming products he is too vain or it lessens his masculinity. We want to eliminate that stigma. Prime Cut aims to bring back classic culture and grooming in a healthy way.”
Wax and essential oils
This involves just a little more mindfulness devoted to hair care. Taking a closer look at the labels of store-bought hair products is like reading a lab report—chemicals upon chemicals packed into a pulp. Rather than toiling in a lab, Diones works in his kitchen, melting waxes at certain temperatures and adding essential oils as the mix cools down.
“Temperature is crucial to avoid deterioration of the vitamins,” he says. “Eighty percent of our raw materials are sourced locally, except for the packaging, like aluminum cans and jars that are directly [bought] from China.”
This local support extends to the stickers on the jars as Diones’ friend in Iloilo prints them. “[It’s a] home-brewed product, thus most of the processes are done in [my kitchen], from formulating to pouring, so we are proud to say that [our products] are handcrafted.”
Asked about how the market reacted to the product upon its introduction, he says, “At exhibits [we’d get] statements like ‘pamada? 'Di pang matanda ‘to?’” Naturally, pomade finds itself locked in a time capsule from the past. In the same capsule, you’d be likely to find a pair of suspenders, driving gloves, and a bottle of scotch, if you’re lucky.
Frankly, this is a time capsule many a person would be happy to break open. Today, Prime Cut produces approximately 500 units of standard brews of pomades and oils per month with about 200 additional tins for “limited/experimental brews.” These tins of pomade—in the four pioneering variants of Gentleman, Oldschool, Womanize, and Momma’s Boy—are found in barbershops and artisan shops in Panay, Negros, and Cebu, with online shops and a Facebook page for shoppers from Luzon.
In a kitchen filled with pomades, beard oils, and hair tonics, Diones has the goal of making Prime Cut “a go-to brand for male consumers that prefer earth-loving grooming products, not just for hair grooming but also beard grooming and other apothecary goods.” Moving in the name of quality rather than speed, the founder also has his eyes set on clothing and leather accessories. Perhaps that time capsule will find itself filled with a few more products for men to enjoy in the future.