If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the stain-remover pen and the tongue-cleaner. We asked Aaron Wallace, a former barber and founder of the haircare brand of the same name (which is now stocked at ASOS and Liberty), about the sleep tracker, gym equipment, and affordable candle he can’t live without.
I picked this up during lockdown, along with as a pull-up bar and some weights, and turned the back room in my flat into a home gym. In the morning, before breakfast, I’ll have a quick go on the bags. I know a lot of people struggled to get fitness equipment like exercise bikes during lockdown, but I made sure to wait until the initial rush died down before putting an order in. The thing I like most about the punch bag is it doesn’t take up as much floor space as other home equipment. But I really miss the gym, I actually have daydreams about going back to the gym when things begin to reopen.
I’ve had this Orbit soundbar for quite a few years now. I did a lot of research into the best soundbars, asking friends, reading loads of reviews. At the time it was a toss-up between Orbit or Bose, but I’d heard really good things about the music quality on Orbit, and that cinched it for me. It’s also good for movie and TV quality, too. It has been a fantastic purchase — you can feel the rich, punchy lows and crisp highs. When I’m working, I opt for more ambient music without words, a combination of chill-hop, lo-fi, synth-wave or modern classical. Outside of work, I listen to a lot of soul and R&B — in fact, I’d argue that I have one of the best ’90s R&B playlists of all time.
I really got into meditation when I was building the business. This headband allows you to see how well you’re meditating; it tracks your brainwaves, heart rate, and breathing in order to look at your meditative state. It has connectivity with your phone and headphones, too. You can pick calming sounds to listen to, like ocean waves, rainforest, or city park. And the calmer you are, the calmer the ocean waves might be. But if you lose focus, the waves will gather and crash and splash around, and storms will start to come in. The idea is that it optimises your sessions because the sounds help draw you into that calm space. What you’ll find is that, over time, you’re able to meditate for longer and longer periods. Most days, I will meditate for 25 minutes before I start work, but I can do up to 45 minutes if I have a bit more time. You can also use this as a sleep tracker, but I use my Oula ring (below) for that as it’s a bit easier to have on at night.
I’m always on YouTube, and I came across Oura on some reviews on there, I can’t remember which channel specifically, but I like tracking things so I was intrigued by it. It’s really good because it tracks your sleep, and it gathers data on how you sleep. It gives you what’s called a ‘readiness score’; if it sees that you haven’t slept very well for the past few days, it will tell you to be careful, or to take it easy today, you might want to have an earlier night, things like that. It will also nudge you throughout the day if you haven’t moved in a while, encouraging you to go and stretch your legs or be more active. I was drawn to the fact it’s sleek and minimalist, and looks just like a nice piece of jewellery. It comes in different finishes, but I have mine in the black finish.
[Editor’s note: Please note that this price is converted from USD and does not include shipping.]
I love all fruits, but I’m eating a lot of bananas right now. There are certain times when I’m working so hard that I forget to cook, and by the time I remember, I just can’t be bothered. That can lead to bad eating habits, but I have found that always having a ton of fruit in the house helps. No matter how busy I get, I can just grab a banana and it’s all good. No more reaching for a pizza for me.
I love my smellies. I’m a big candle person. This Aldi candle was actually a gift, but the lime, basil, and mandarin scent is so good, and it’s really cheap so I know I can pick up a new one no problem. When it’s affordable, you have no problem letting it burn, which isn’t the case with some of the pricier candles. When you work from home, it’s nice to have a luxurious smell in the room with you.
[Editor’s note: This product is currently sold out online but is available in-store].
When I’m cooking or doing anything around the house, I like to have a podcast or video on in the background. And the adverts used to drive me crazy. So I got a YouTube premium account, and it’s so much better. This is the one subscription that I don’t mind paying for. In terms of content, I like anything that is science- or philosophy-related. AsapSCIENCE is a good show, and PBS Space Time is really cool, too. I find the whole space thing and all the rest of it just fascinating. It boggles my mind. The universe is insanely big, and we’re insanely small.
I still put aftershave on at home. I think it’s because I’ve been on so many calls for the business, I feel like I’ve got to put my best self together. But even when I go to Tesco, I just think, well, you never know who you might bump into, so I like to look good and smell good if I can. This “Dior Homme” is my aftershave of choice; it’s woody but also smells fresh.
Conditioner really is the unsung hero of grooming. Many men go straight for beard oil — which is great — but a good conditioner is what smoothes the hair down, keeps moisture in, and gives it that healthy, glossy appearance. So condition your hair and beard, then use a beard oil to finish. I got into making my own products after being a barber — I had a shop in East Croydon. And customers would always ask for advice. Black afro hair is very prone to drying out, and when it dries out, it becomes brittle. When you brush or comb that dry hair, it causes breakages, and that in turn can cause the hair to recede, which was a concern for a lot of my customers. Finding good products was a real treasure hunt; first you need to actually find a shop that sells afro hair products. And then you’d have to try and find a men’s section, if they had one, and most of the time you’d find one tiny shelf. It felt like there was a huge underserved market. Next year, we’re hoping to launch a skin-care line, too, as a lot of Black men are susceptible to ingrown hairs, which are caused by the coils in the hair. An exfoliator is the best way to alleviate that.
The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.