In 2015, New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs compared the prices of products marketed toward men versus women — a range that starts with baby onesies, includes scooters and other toys, and continues on to support braces — and found that women, on average, are asked to spend more.
It’s called the “pink tax” and some estimates say that women end up spending about $1,300 more per year.
So — what’s a girl to do?
Enter Angie Frank, a Duluth entrepreneur, who recently started an all-natural line of grooming products. Her company, Blue Tax, charges 13% more for its beard oil, aftershave and balms — and the extra money is donated to organizations that support equality.
“I think in everything I’ve ever done, personally and professionally, I come at it from a social justice angle,” Frank said in a recent phone interview.
A few years ago, Frank started selling grooming products, made with mostly locally sourced ingredients, under the name Ron For Your Life. As she traveled to festivals and fairs, customers found a hole in her product line.
“People kept asking me for a beard oil,” she said. “You’re in Northern Minnesota, you’ve got to make a beard oil.”
So she came up with a beard oil recipe that is a mix of oils: almond, jojoba, coconut, sunflower, castor and essential blends along with Vitamin E.
“It’s grounding and earthy and kind of mysterious,” she said of the scent. “But also uplifting. I really like how the scent turned out. It captures a lot of levels.”
Along with the beard oil came an unconventional business move.
“I’m going to charge more for it because it’s made for a man,” Frank said.
A 1 ounce bottle of beard oil, which is packaged in recyclable blue glass, is $18.08 — with $2.08 going to this month’s nonprofit, Juxtaposition Arts, a North Minneapolis based studio-gallery space run by teenagers.
Frank has found a fan in Brandon Golding, whose barbershop Deep Cuts, 1607 Woodland Ave., is scheduled to open Aug. 29. Golding specializes in short clipper cuts and describes the space as a queer-friendly barbershop that is inclusive and gender-affirming.
“When I saw the mission that was behind Blue Tax, I was fully on board with it,” he said.
Golding has been using the aftershave in his work and said it will be the shop’s signature scent. He is also open to carrying other local products. Frank opened her Blue Tax online shop in May, she said, and then quietly began rolling out her products. She is a company of one right now — mixing up recipes at home, labeling bottles at the kitchen table, and creating quick-hit commercials where a man chops wood and stops to say “I’m ready to pay my blue tax.”
Her intent is to start small and see if the concept catches on. Eventually she would like to make products that meet everyone’s grooming needs.
“Get up and put on Blue Tax deodorant and brush your teeth with Blue Tax toothpaste,” she said, imagining her goal. “Fighting gender inequity in my bathroom.”
Blue Tax info
Where: Blue Tax products are available at Deep Cuts, Adeline Inc., and online at bluetaxformen.com.
What: Queer-friendly barbershop
When: Opens Aug. 29
Where: 1607 Woodland Ave.