David Justin has always been surrounded by hair, fashion, and beauty. The son of accomplished session stylist Freda Rossidis, his childhood was spent in salons and backstage at fashion shows around the world. He went on to forge a career in marketing and product development at a handful of high-end international haircare brands, before going out on his own and launching Mr. Smith in 2015. The family narrative has now come full-circle, with his mother—the woman who first introduced him to his lifelong calling—taking up post as creative director of the brand.
The first thing you’ll notice about Mr. Smith is the packaging. Monochrome and minimal, it’s chic, timeless, and decidedly unisex in its appeal. “I have long believed that products, clothes, and brands in general should be gender-neutral. Pigeonholing a brand to a specific gender is so limiting,” Justin tells Really Well. “I’ve always looked at our branding quite holistically, and instead of focusing on what gender, age group, or demographic it might resonate with, I’ve focused on developing a really clear Mr. Smith aesthetic.”
This approach has opened up the brand to multiple markets, and also given it a point of difference. “I wanted to created a product that was sustainable, luxurious, and aesthetically pleasing,” Justin adds. But with style comes substance. The entire collection of 29 products are PETA-certified and made in Australia using organic, locally-sourced, and naturally-derived ingredients like organic caviar lime, Kakadu plum, and macadamia oil.
Picks include the leave-in Masque which includes a hydrating mix of almond, marula, jojoba, and lavender oils as well as capauacu, mango, and cacao seed butter; the Balancing Shampoo and Conditioner, which incorporate wheat protein to plump the hair fibre; and The Foundation base and building product that brings together three Australian natives: quandong extract, lemon aspen, and desert lime. This focus on high-quality, antioxidant-rich ingredients has seen Mr. Smith gain traction overseas from Oslo to Tokyo, with the brand now stocked in over ten countries.
Alongside expanding the Mr. Smith product presence internationally, Justin has been focussed on building the brand’s team of hair stylists around the world. Under the artistic eye of Rossidis (who herself has over 20 years’ experience working across runaway shows and editorial styling), the Mr. Smith creative team has worked at New York, London, Paris, and Milan Fashion Weeks on runway shows for the likes of Cedric Charlier, A.P.C, Pucci, Area, and A.W.A.K.E along with styling editorials for DAZED, Interview, Another Man, and Re-Edition.
On a personal note, Justin says that relocating to New York in 2017 has been a major highlight of his Mr. Smith journey. “The creative energy of a city like New York is endlessly inspiring; it has long been a draw for the world’s great creatives and dreamers and there’s a good reason for that—you just can’t help but pick up on the creative spirit of this city.”