When Oliver Walsh was around 14 years old, his dad gave him a tube of nice face cream for Christmas.
“I still remember: it was a Swiss brand called Zirh,” he recalls. “It had really cool packaging—silver with a blue Jil Sander-esque font—and I started using it. And ever since then, I’ve had to use moisturizer.”
That small silver bottle sparked within Walsh a lifelong appreciation for taking care of himself. As a young athlete growing up in Britain, he thought a lot about what he was putting into his body to help his performance; as he transitioned to a career in luxury fashion—working with the likes of Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton, and helping launch Mr. Porter—he began to focus more on the grooming side of things. So it’s a rather fitting culmination of his past selves that he launched Asystem: a line of wellness products designed to take care of men, both inside and out.
Launched in late 2019 by Walsh and business partner Josh LeVine, Asystem creates supplement and skincare products that live at the intersection of nature and science. That means offerings such as Superhuman Supplements, designed to give men their daily dose of minerals, vitamins, and adaptogens; and The Morning SPF Moisturizer, tailored to male skin with a mix of antioxidants and sun protection—all bundled up in sleek green packaging that eschews the archaic “manly” aesthetic still sported by so many brands.
“There were two big things,” Walsh says when asked what gap Asystem wanted to fill in the market. “One was that from a product side, it was really siloed. There were grooming products over here, and there were supplement products over here, and there was content over here, and there was no one really taking a 360 viewpoint where you could go as a destination to get what you needed across all aspects of your self-care routine. And number two was the brand side of it—it just felt really outdated. There was no brand that really resonated with us; it was either overly macho and sort of jock-y, or it was a French male model on a motorbike and antiquated, or it was dudes smoking cigars. It was like, ‘This is not who we are and not who our friends are, and not what we think the modern man is.’”
After all, men can and should want to take care of themselves. What Asystem sets out to do is not only make it okay to participate in self-care, but to make it cool (see: the aforementioned branding); beyond that, the refreshingly small product line means a streamlined, simple process for a guy who might be dabbling in this kind of thing for the first time. Hence, Asystem: one easy system for all his wellness needs.
“We came up with this word called ‘betterment,’” Walsh says over video from his farmhouse in England, where he and his family have been holding out during the coronavirus pandemic (usually he splits his time between Los Angeles and Vancouver, where his wife JJ founded the locally-loved Fig skincare bar). “This notion of betterment was this idea that actually you should be your best self—not only for you but for those around you. And if you’re not going to take the time to do it for yourself, which lots of guys don’t, okay, well, do it for her, or him, or them. Do it for your colleagues, do it for your kids, do it for your partner, or do it for your friends. But you should be doing it for yourself, ultimately, and that’s really what betterment stood for.” Optimizing yourself to be the best you can be—who wouldn’t want that?
Asystem’s website also features a journal covering relevant wellness topics, from intermittent fasting to the benefits of turmeric. And taking things a step further in its well-rounded offering, the brand recently released a pain-management line called Radical Relief: anti-inflammatory supplements, as well as a gel roll-on that combines the healing powers of CBD, menthol, arnica, and more. Keeping with the inside-outside theme, the duo packs a serious recovery punch for anyone (both men and women—as Walsh says, “everyone suffers from pain”) who’s sore from a morning run, a long day in front of the computer, or an afternoon playing with the kids.
That last point is a crucial part of Walsh’s identity. He sees modern fatherhood as an equal division of responsibility and makes sure he is heavily involved in raising his three young kids. “I wouldn’t know any other way, because I just love my kids so much and they’re so much fun,” he says. “JJ’s got an amazing business and she works so hard, and we’re both in full startup mode, which is totally nuts. But kids are unbelievably hard work … So the only real fair way to do it is to both pull your weight.”
He aims to teach his kids kindness, curiosity, and confidence, and that success only comes with hard work. If those are his life’s main pillars, it’s safe to say that he’s lighting the way.