By Emily Klein, Reporter
As a veteran, Jeremy Allen Stanton had no intent to start an unconventional skincare business, but needed a hobby after retiring. Now, his business called Barrel Brands collaborates with organizations that helps children in need and the LGBTQ.
Stanton originally started making skin and hair oil to keep himself busy after working for the military. Stanton worked for the Airforce, frequently traveling before retiring on disability. While Stanton receives an adequate stipend from the military, he found himself searching for an activity to focus his energy. He worked with his neighbor, a chemist, to make beard and skin oil to pass the time at home.
Stanton originally started making the oil because he wanted something to take care of his beard and tattoos. What’s different about Stanton’s beard and skin oil, however, is it’s aged inside old whiskey barrels for sometimes up to a year.
“As far as how I came across the product, it was totally by accident,” Stanton said. “I made something I jokingly and haphazardly put it in a whiskey barrel to see what would happen and when it came out it was like, ‘Holy cow this is amazing.’”
With Barrel Brands, the product came before the company. Stanton started making the oils as a hobby and would hand small vials out to friends and family. After a while, people started to contact him asking where they could get more of the oils and he then knew he had a viable business. The oils were geared towards beards and tattoos at first, but Stanton received messages from people saying the oil helped their eczema and sunburn.
He started marketing the oil or “Expressions” towards not only towards people with beards and tattoos, but to everyone and after a few years was able to buy a brick and mortar store in Collinsville. The store was a good place to host events, but Stanton said that because of the dust and irregular temperature in the store, it was hard to produce a quality product. So, Stanton moved his operations back to his home.
Having more control over the product quality allows Stanton to focus on meaningful collaborations between Barrel Brands and other companies.
Barrel Brands’ original Expressions, called “Everyone”, is a vanilla-tobacco scent for men and women. Stanton is planning on re-releasing the Expression with a small line of apparel with the statement “everyone means everyone” and give the proceeds to an LGBTQ organization based on the West Coast.
While Stanton said the plan isn’t finished as of yet, they’re planning on releasing the apparel and announce the campaign in July.
“I’m a disabled veteran, I probably lean a little more right than I do left, but I’m very very much so worried about people,” Stanton said. “Be happy, be good, treat other people well. If they can’t do what they want to do, they’re not happy.”
The statement of “everyone means everyone” is intended to be an inclusion statement, but not apolitical statement, Stanton said. The apparel will include shirts that has the map of the United States in rainbow with the Barrel Brands logo and the statement on the back. The biggest motivation Stanton has is providing for his family, but he also is concerned with making a difference. Sometimes, friends don’t understand why Stanton welcomes working with other organizations.
“Whenever my friends here see what I’m doing online, whether it be for the gay community or the black community … I get side-eyed,” Stanton said. “If somebody is uncomfortable that we do something like that and we’re not just vet-owned, bleeding red, white and blue — and that can be there too — let’s not let that step on somebody else’s dreams.”
Recently, Barrel Brands collaborated with 4 Hands Brewing Co., in St. Louis. The brewery uses barrels to distill their whiskey called Presence of Darkness, which they then gave to Stanton to create a special Expression in. The Expression, called “Darkness”, was released with the whiskey to compliment each other.
Stanton also plans to work with former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kyle McClellan on making a summer-scented Expression to raise awareness for McClellan’s organization, Brace For Impact. The organization helps children in Haiti and St. Louis build strong futures. Stanton said that his goal moving forward with Barrel Brands is to work with great people who are trying to improve communities. Barrel
Brands has had slow growth, but Stanton is fine with that, and welcomes it. He says that the year 2020 will be his year of clarity — allowing him to step back and see what’s really important.
“I’m trying to get behind people and put ourselves out there and say ‘Hey we hear you. We’re a small, veteran-owned company. We believe in you and we want to have your back,’” Stanton said. “I want to use that voice that some people will listen to to help people like our friends out West. Which obviously helps everybody.”