With the number of men suffering from mental health problems on the rise, it’s good to know that there are fellow vegans out there willing to help. One particularly philanthropic plant-based pioneer is Blue O’Connor.

After struggling with his own mental health, Blue looked to launch a brand which would not only help put a stop to animal cruelty, but which could contribute to better mental health for all.

Blue’s story

“Kings was born out of my personal struggles with mental health,” says Blue. “Though I have always suffered from social anxiety, during my mid-twenties this progressed to high levels of anxiety, stress and a period of depression. I felt an overwhelming sense of shame, believing it was down to me to solve this problem, and that I had to do it alone.

“Looking back, I realise that I wasn’t aware or able to communicate my mental health problem, it just got worse and worse until it became unmanageable. I now understand that like physical health, mental health is on a scale and can improve or deteriorate throughout life.

“I was lucky that I was in a financial position to take time out, and work on my mental health.  Eventually, I quit my job to travel the world. This gave me the time and space to realise what I was passionate about: social change. I wanted to help other men who perhaps weren’t as lucky as me and couldn’t see a way out of their struggles with mental health.

“When I returned to the UK, I struggled to find grooming products that were a good fit. I wanted to invest in products that fitted my values and lifestyle. There seemed to be no quality aftershaves that were ethically produced and cruelty-free. And there were definitely no aftershaves that ‘gave back’ to the causes close to my heart.”

And, hence, Kings was born. The company offers vegan, cruelty-free and palm oil-free aftershaves, as well as a generous dose of charitable giving.

The mission of Kings

“Kings doesn’t just offer aftershaves, creams and face washes that make men look great and feel confident,” explains Blue. “Our mission to ‘empower men to live healthier, happier lives’ will drive every action we take as a company.”

“If I had been able to speak to someone about my mental health challenges it would have taken me much less time to learn what I know now. There is this feeling of shame, which is increased when you find yourself in very masculine and male dominated circles. I don’t want other people to suffer in the same way.”

The future of Kings

Kings is currently partnered with youth mentor charity, Mentoring Plus, and mental health charity, Bristol Mind. However, Blue is also hoping the company can one day launch their own social initiatives. The first of which being a series of urban gyms, located in deprived areas.

“We want to empower men to think independently, break the mould and live by their own definition of ‘being a man’.”

#RedefiningMasculinity

To read more about Kings visit kings-grooming.com

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