Though Christopher Lord did not grow up with aspirations to work in the grooming industry, today, he is one of Ottawa’s most prominent barbers. The Ottawa native is the owner and founder of the Ottawa-born brand King’s Own, a barbershop and line of all-Canadian, premium grooming products that includes three beard balms, and a beard wash on the way. Chris has recently expanded to include a new managing partner, Jeremy DeMerchant.
The Kings Own brand, which launched in 2017 with its first beard oil, was born out of necessity, says Chris. As a professional barber, Chris found that mainstream beard oils were not cutting it for quality “I found that what was available to as both a consumer and a professional barber wasn’t what I would consider to be my standard. I hit the ground running and spent a year developing my first oil.”
Chris has since expanded his line and built on the brand by opening Kings Own Barbershop on Gladstone in 2019. The shop offers an elevated grooming experience right in the heart of Centretown. Since opening, Chris has been voted Ottawa’s Best Barber in the 2019 Ottawa Awards, and named among Narcity’s Top 15 Barbers.
Outside of his work, Chris dedicates his time to cutting hair for the homeless, and supporting Hair Donation Ottawa as an active board member. He also supports a collective consciousness group in the Capital (Shadow Ottawa) through his product sales. $1.00 of every purchase of Kings Own Reserve goes to this group, which focuses on helping the homeless, less fortunate, and marginalized in The Capital.
We caught up with Ottawa’s grooming industry entrepreneur to discuss his brand, community work, and what’s next.
Portrait Photography by Sean Sisk
When did you know that you wanted to be a barber?
I never really knew I wanted to be a barber. My Mom cut my hair most of my childhood, so I was exposed to that from a young age. Shortly before my daughter was born, I had started watching barbering videos and it sparked my interest. My mother suggested I go to school, and the rest is history as they say.
What was the inspiration behind your product line?
From a young age, I have always liked reading fantasy novels, which usually take place in Medieval settings. I started including a crown above the C when I signed my name, so the style has always been a part of my personal brand. Every business has its challenges, but if you like what you do, it’s more fun. Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.
Tell me about Kings Own Barbershop. What kind of experience do you provide there, and what makes it different?
Kings Own Barbershop is focused on an elevated grooming experience with a relaxed atmosphere and traditions that will send you back in time, including our straight blade shaves! We take pride in the work that we do, and count ourselves as master craftsmen that honour a timeless trade, with a focus on providing top notch service and quality. My guests are more like friends and family to me, and I take great pride in getting to know everyone, to build rapport and to foster these important relationships.
Tell me about your work with Hair Donation Ottawa, and your work cutting hair for the homeless. Why are these activities important to you, and what have you seen working in the Ottawa community in this way?
I have been a board member with Hair Donation Ottawa for five years now. I think we can all say that cancer has affected our lives in one way or another. HDO’s proceeds go directly towards cutting edge cancer research at CHEO, and helps to provide wigs to children going through treatment. It gives me great joy to be able to help impact people’s lives, while using my craft. In that same capacity, doing what I love, AND giving back, my work with the marginalized, less fortunate and homeless is also very dear to me. I’ve been cutting hair for the less fortunate for about seven years now. Something a lot of us take for granted are haircuts. I believe it has the power to change people’s lives, one cut at a time. We feel better, we look better, and the power of a haircut or being groomed is priceless. For every product Kings Own Reserve sells, we donate $1.00 to We Live In She Shadows/Shadow Ottawa to help alleviate homelessness.
What did it mean for you to be voted Ottawa’s Best Barber in 2019, and named among Narcity’s top 15 Barbers?
Doing what you love for a living, and having the opportunity to befriend such great people every day is a gift in itself. Winning both of these is an honour. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the constant support of my friends, family and guests. Every head is a canvas, and grooming happens to be my medium. It’s hard to quantify or even put into words what both of these mean. If I could choose one word to describe it, it would be grateful.
Lastly, what’s next for you?
I’m always looking to push myself as not only an artist, but also in business. I would like to continue to work with great people, and expand both Kings Own Reserve and Kings Own Barbershop, respectively. Community and charity work is and always has been a big part of my life, so I’m definitely excited to keep taking part in that.