Sick of cutesy pink products being the only option for his teenage daughter, one father decided to do something about it. Now, the line of teen skin and haircare products he's created to combat gender stereotypes will be hitting stores in June.
One day, a few years ago, while buying deodorant for his two children (a now-14-year-old daughter and a now-11-year-old son) Sam Farmer, then a stay-at-home dad, noticed something odd on the store shelves. “Looking at the rows of deodorant, I noticed that the girls' section was filled with brands labeled 'Tease' and 'Play It Sexy' — there was even a Playboy line,” Farmer, who lives in Britain, tells Yahoo Shine. “For the boys, all I saw were brands that read, 'Control' and 'Attract.'”
However, it wasn't until Farmer’s daughter mentioned that she couldn't relate to the names and phrases on her beauty products that he began brainstorming. “When you become a dad, you become more passionate about certain things and I wanted my daughter to learn that in order to make change, sometimes you have to create it yourself,” says Farmer. “It was my responsibility to teach that to my kids.”
Farmer shared his plan with his wife, who works as an actress, and enrolled in a one-year course in cosmetics science at a local university. After that, he teamed up with former executives at skincare companies Kiehl’s and Ren. In January 2013, he began selling his own brand of unisex beauty products online. Simply titled Sam Farmer, the products include shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, moisturizer, and facial and body wash. In June, Farmer’s products will hit store shelves at Space NK, located in New York City and London.
“All I’m doing is providing an alternative to the sexualized messages teens receive from the media,” says Farmer, who posted his own cell phone number on the company website because, as he writes, “I'm fed up with not knowing who is responsible for a product or faceless call centres.”
After a recent story about Farmer was published by the U.K.’s the Guardian, Twitter was abuzz with support for the company.
@samfarmer_co thank you so much for creating this line. I now have something for my son and daughter to use that is appropriate.— Sailorchick9705 (@sailorchick9705) April 15, 2014
Respect to @samfarmer_co & respect to the kids that see beyond labels... product labels & the labels that are placed upon you!— Jade (@JKat4L) April 14, 2014
@samfarmer_co is my hero. Yes, my hero manufactures deodorant.— M Leigh K (@dwarfminion) April 13, 2014
@samfarmer_co I am also sick to death of hyper sexulized products & being told to be sexy. I just wanna wash my face for crying out loud!— HelpMeBeauty (@HMBeauty) April 14, 2014
And Farmer is hitting the market at an opportune time, considering there’s been a recent demand for gender-neutral products, even from the children they’re often marketed toward. In 2012, then-13-year-old McKenna Pope convinced toy company Hasbro to create an Easy-Bake Oven that appealed to both girls and boys by launching a petition on Change.org that garnered 40,000 signatures and backing from celebrity chef Bobby Flay. McKenna hatched the idea after shopping for an oven for her 4-year-old brother, finding that her only choices were pink or purple. As a result of the petition, Hasbro created a prototype of a new Easy-Bake Oven in silver, blue, and black and agreed to hire male actors for the oven’s ads.
Last December, British online retailer Marks and Spencer announced its plan to market all of its toys as gender-neutral beginning in spring 2014, after customers complained via Twitter that that company was sexist, in particular, for advertising a marble maze as “Boy's Stuff.” And this year, the toy and apparel company GoldieBlox, which focuses on engineering-themed toys, has been making headlines for its buzzy anti-princess ads, which feature young girls promoting the message that science is cool while relaying such statistics as "At age 7, girls begin to lose confidence in math and science."