Jonathan Keren co-founded Maapilim with his husband in the fall of 2017 in Tel Aviv, as a men’s grooming brand focusing on handcrafted haircare and beard care made from natural ingredients sourced from the Mediterranean. At the time, Keren felt men’s products and masculinity in general needed a fresh perspective, and men needed to be encouraged to engage in self care.
As the brand grew, Keren noticed more women were using the products, and it has now reached a point where 30 percent of the Maapilim consumers are women (even though all of their marketing efforts have been geared towards men).
In the coming months, Maapilim will be launching new and more advanced skincare products, including a collection of four facial oils, a retinol serum and vitamin C serum, as well as improving existing products—becoming completely vegan, developing refill packs and launching sustainable packaging.
You use natural ingredients from the Mediterranean—what are some of those ingredients and how do you source them? Over the years we’ve developed strong personal relationships with small local suppliers. In this industry, having trusted suppliers is everything, and we try to bring the ethos of slow living and Mediterranean artisanship into everything we do, including all of our business relationships.
This extends to our essential oil suppliers, of which some are locally produced in Israel, such as grapefruit, orange, jojoba, and others that are made along the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, such as bergamot, sage and marjoram.
How has Tel Aviv influenced the products you make—their design, ingredients, scents and more? Tel Avivians and Israelis in general are very proud people, so it starts with the fact that we wanted to share our local DNA, and didn’t try being something else (that might be easier to pronounce, for example).
Maapilim also tries to portray a sense of openness, creativity and artistry that’s very profound in Tel Aviv.
Then of course the essential oil blends that I create are often times inspired by my personal memories from growing up near the Carmel mountain in the north of Israel. It’s somewhere I would go as a kid, and I was fascinated by the scents and sensations of the wild herbs and plants that are growing everywhere.
When did you first realize you had a customer base that was about 30 percent women and what do you think accounts for that? From the very beginning women have been using the products. Although our marketing team had always focused on men, women had always used the products.
What does it mean to you to be a gender-neutral brand? It means realizing that gender boundaries are a thing of the past, and that in essence, even though there might be different needs and usage, the formulations would not be different. So we will keep developing products that solve a wide range of concerns, products with active ingredients, alongside beard oils and shaving products, for example.
I write a lot about travel and wellness—which products in the range do you never travel without and why?I miss traveling a lot, so this question makes me really excited and ready to go. I always take a travel-size shampoo and soap, serum, moisturizer and hand cream. Now I would also take our hand sanitizer.
Tell me about some of the new products you are adding to the range and why? The next products on our roadmap include different skincare actives, such as retinol and vitamin C, as well as accessories and more lifestyle-focused products.
Do you think men still need to be encouraged to engage in self-care? Tell me about some of the trends and changes you’ve noticed around this conversation? Yes, definitely.
The population split between men and women is about 50-50, and the market sizes in the US are nowhere near the same. We have seen huge growth in the men’s category over the past four years, and men have started looking for much more advanced products, but there’s still a long way to go. If you look at other countries, such as Korea, you would see that the local men’s beauty market is coming much closer to women, but the rest of the world still has a long way to go.
I think that over the next few years, we will see this continue to change rapidly.