Detroit-Based Burton & Levy Creates Combs The Classic Way
Burton & Levy is a Detroit-based small business established in 2014 that specializes in handcrafted beard and hair combs. Owner and maker Jason Burton designs his combs by hand and constructs each piece by using machining processes. Inspired by his lineage, the company’s namesake is drawn from two very important people in his life: his mother and father. Each of Burton’s designs expresses the style and character of his male relatives: his great-grandfather, grandfathers, and his older brother. While Burton & Levy may be based in Detroit, the small business is rapidly growing and gaining stockists across the Midwest. We chatted with Burton to learn more about his business, design processes and interest in the St. Louis market.
What inspired you to develop a line of handcrafted combs?
I started making combs because I couldn’t find the right one for myself! Many fine comb companies are working with beautiful-yet-fragile acetate, and I wanted to make combs that are tough enough to keep with you all day. My background is in traditional metalsmithing and jewelry-making. I have a love for good luck charms, beautiful tools, and mementos. That’s how I chose to make them out of stainless steel and brass. I want my customers to own a product containing solid, classic materials that get better with age.
Tell us about your process. How are your combs designed and manufactured? Where do you source your materials?
The design process starts with research: finding examples of combs that show fine craftsmanship and display a timeless style. I look for inspiration in design elements that contribute to a distinctive, but somehow familiar, feel. I search through objects from past times and different regions of the world, adding details to my designs that make my combs special.
While I draft the design, prep and prototype for production, I work with domestic companies for the computer-driven production steps. Finishing and packaging happens back in the Burton & Levy studio. I may bring the whole production process in-house someday, but I’m not rushing to that stage. It’s such a pleasure to work with and support small, local businesses that use their own materials and low-waste production methods.
What do you find most exciting about branching Burton & Levy out into new markets, and what do you find to be particularly exciting about St. Louis?
I love imagining what place Burton & Levy goods will find in the style trends of the communities surrounding a new market. Michigan loves our goods because we’re local and represent thoughtful, ground-up industry; Chicago and eastern Illinois have embraced Burton & Levy’s clean, understated style.
From what I’ve learned, St. Louis has a lot in common with Detroit. Culturally, it’s a link between the East Coast and the Midwest, the North and the South, aboriginal cultures, colonial cultures, and worldwide cultures. I think St. Louis understands, much like Detroit, that the kind of business you own and the kind of business you support can impact your community. St. Louis knows that the style you wear and the style you project makes a statement, it has a voice. I’m excited to see what place Burton & Levy has in that mix.
What’s next for Burton & Levy?
We have so many new and up-and-coming collaborations in store! I can’t pass up on a chance to work with others and make something totally new. We recently launched our earthy, heady fragrance, ODIN, with Detroit business Sfumato Fragrances, and we’re working on beautiful, one-of-a-kind toiletry bags from textile designer Tim Eads. I’m very excited to be creating a signature comb with international mustache record-holder Jackie Lynn Ellison, which we’ll release this fall.
You can shop Burton & Levy’s full line of handmade combs and fragrances at BurtonandLevy.com.
Featured photo by Sandy Gutierrez.
Patrick Dolan is the founder and writer behind MANMADE, a lifestyle guide centered on showcasing handmade and independently produced products for the modern St. Louis man. In addition to his online publication, Patrick highlights the work of local makers, designers, and businesses by curating year-round pop-up shopping events in St. Louis.