Former Pro Cricketer and Triumph & Disaster Founder Dion Nash Makes Poetry and Grooming Manly
Shaving is often singled out as something that fathers teach their sons. It is a rite of passage that signals a boy has lived enough to become a man. There are tools; there are potions; there is a certain way one must proceed. It separates the civilized from the less so. Wounds may happen. Blood may spill. Some faces emerge from shaving victorious and smooth. Other faces surface marred by stubble and nicks. It is a skill that men practice throughout their lives, and it is an activity that for many recalls the advice of their fathers.
Dion Nash, a former New Zealand pro cricketer and the founder of men’s grooming line Triumph & Disaster, is keenly aware of the intersection between fatherly advice and self-care. When Nash was a surly 13-year-old, his thoughtful dad handed him Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If,” which contains the line, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster/And treat those two impostors just the same”, and concludes “you’ll be a Man, my son!”
We spoke with Nash about his products, which favor natural ingredients from the South Pacific, whether cricket will ever catch on in the U.S. and what he internalized from that great poem.
Tell us about that Kipling poem, “If,” that inspired your line’s name. It’s such a great poem. Your father gave it to you?
Yes, Dad gave me the poem when I was around 13. We were not really getting on at the time, so it was his way of giving me some sound advice in a way that might actually sink in. I like to think some of it did. It’s a great poem about risk and reward, failure and success, and about keeping a level head—all great qualities to remember on our journey.
Is there a particular line from it that you’ve internalized as good advice or a necessary reminder?
Apart from the line about Triumph and Disaster and treating those two imposters just the same, my other favorite is “trust yourself when all men doubt you.” It is a great reminder especially when you are trying to build a brand and business, or when you are having a go at anything for that matter—to trust yourself is essential. But to be honest, the complete poem is the real deal, full stop.
Your products seem imbued with purpose. What is the significance in skincare?
Early on, we realized that we needed to be more than just lotions in a bottle, we needed to have an impact on people’s lives, for the better. So as a skincare foundry, our mission is to enhance people’s daily rituals. This means adding to the experience of everyday life by improving those small moments that are ours and ours alone.
Many of your product names include musical or literary references too.
We like that. We’ve used a bit of Jack Kerouac, On the Road. There’s Coltrane Clay. We’ve stolen lines from Pulp Fiction and just about everywhere. Nothing’s sacred. These products are like keepsakes: you carry them with you like your book or iPod.
Your label has a bit of a musical bent with its Disaster Radio, Rock & Roll Suicide Face Scrub and, what I assume is named after the musician, Coltrane Clay. Who are some of your favorite bands?
I’m a child of grunge. I once got sprayed in red wine from Eddie Vedder’s mouth whilst in the front row of the mosh pit at a Pearl Jam concert—so for my music tastes, see six degrees of separation from Eddie Vedder and you are a pretty safe bet.
Is there a product that you think is essential or a good entry into your line?
Rock & Roll Suicide—an all-natural, awesome exfoliating scrub that quite literally lifts your face out of the doldrums—will change your life. Use it twice a week (once for business, once for pleasure) with heaps of water and walk tall. Also it is microbead-free so won’t clog your waterways or pollute our world.
What is one thing about grooming that men should do and know how to do well?
Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. As I have said above, it will change your life. And then moisturize. These two acts alone will change the way you feel. They really do have this big of an impact. But go natural (synthetic chemicals have no right on your face) and only use gentle products that work for your skin.
Your products contain some interesting natural ingredients sourced from around the world. What is one that you’ve incorporated that you find particularly fascinating?
Game Face, our hydrating face moisturizer, is an incredible formula entirely unique in the world. It combines native fern extracts from New Zealand with jojoba esters and horopito, a flowering plant from New Zealand that dates back 65 million years to the age of dinosaurs. These ingredients have natural lifting and toning properties, oil regulation and hydrating qualities that assist skin in recovery. It is truly an awesome product.
We also use tamanu oil from Polynesia, tazmin pepper from Tasmania, kawakawa extract and harekeke from Aoteoroa and clays from Australia—kind of like a modern antipodean apothecary of goodness.
How did you get so into skincare?
Having played professional sport for 10 years and being in the sun all the time influenced the product. We work with an industrial level of sunscreen and concentrate on how to use these products. When you’re in the sun all day, you have to wear these without washing it off.
You were a professional cricketer?
For New Zealand, Ripley New Zealand, and for England—around the world, really. I was on the road most of the year in my 20s and 30s. I was a baller; it’s like a pitcher. Of course, everyone’s a batter as well.
Do you think cricket will ever catch on in the States?
I don’t think so. There are some leagues there, mostly because of Indian and Pakistani expats. But I think baseball is too entrenched in the culture. You need that cultural support. It’s a very English sport. Of all the sports, it’s the least American.
How to shave the Triumph & Disaster way:
I. Clean the surface of the skin with either Rock & Roll Suicide Face Scrub.
II. Calm the face and soften hair follicles by applying a warm cloth or towel to the face.
III. Using a shave brush and a small amount of Old Fashioned Shave Cream create a bold lather on the area you will shave.
IV. Using a fresh razor shave clean in long smooth strokes being careful to pull with the natural grain of your hair follicles.
V. Rinse clean.
VI. Protect using Gameface moisturizer.
VII. Attack the day.
SHOP: Triumph & Disaster