Baldwin alum to pitch his makeup for men on ‘Shark Tank’

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Photo courtesy Jon Shanahan

By Grace Spozarski and Leila Usanovic

Class of 2009 alum Jon Shanahan was voted Class Clown and later ran a half marathon in a suit for his YouTube channel. He now uses his creative mind as a business mogul, and in his latest adventure, he will appear on Shark Tank this Friday to make a pitch for the men’s makeup company he co-owns. 

Stryx was created in 2019 to target the cosmetic and skincare needs of men. With products such as concealers, tinted moisturizers, foundations, and gel cleansers, Shanahan promises “handsome made easy.” 

Shark Tank, an ABC show in which business owners pitch their products to potential investors, airs new episodes on Fridays at 8 p.m.

Shanahan said he first got a call from the Shark Tank casting director. Out of the hundreds of companies initially brought in, Stryx was able to make it to the final rounds to get a chance to appear on an episode. 

Long before he ever became a business co-owner, Shanahan said, he got his creative start in a Baldwin High School graphic design class taught by Jim Wodarek. 

“I fell in love with Photoshop and Illustrator because of Mr. Wodarek,” he said.

He has a unique sense of humor. He is unapologetically himself.”

— Brad Schulte

Wodarek remembers Shanahan’s spirit.

“Jon was a very creative student,” Wodarek said. “I vividly remember his free spirit.” 

Shanahan also helped create the Video Club with history teacher Brad Schulte.

“I was the only member of the Video Club for two or three years,” he said. “I watched Mr. Schulte build that program from scratch.”

Schulte cited Shanahan’s essential effort in getting the Video Club started.

“He did a really good job and started us filming the Senior Rec dance for the graduating seniors. They also bought him a savings bond for being the president of the Video Club,” Schulte said. 

Schulte, like Wodarek, said Shanahan has always had a creative mind and charisma.

“He has a unique sense of humor. He is unapologetically himself,” Schulte said. “Jon always had boundless energy and enthusiasm.”

Elsewhere during high school, in addition to being voted Class Clown, Shanahan participated in sports and Scouting.

“I played lacrosse my freshman year and then I swam for the rest of my years. I was an Eagle Scout my senior year,” Shanahan said. 

Shanahan earned a degree in graphic design at La Roche, but his work life eventually led to a job selling software to CEOs, which required him to dress well. This piqued Shanahan’s interest in clothing, and that led him to create a YouTube channel, The Kavalier, to review dressier men’s clothes and formalwear. 

That YouTube channel eventually picked up 139,000 followers. In one episode, he ran a half marathon in a suit from a company that had promoted its breathable fabric. 

As guys start to care about what they look like, they start to care about their skin.”

— Jon Shanahan

“I raised $2,000 for charity in the process and I was the best looking guy running the marathon,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan said Stryx came about because of the lack of brands targeting men in the cosmetic and skincare industry. He wanted to create a product that would be formulated for men’s skin and their skillset. 

“We know two things: Men tend to have thicker, oilier skin, and they don’t have a routine. All the steps need to be put into one singular formula,” he said.

“As guys start to care about what they look like, they start to care about their skin,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan recognizes the stigma around men using these products. He hopes that everyone can feel comfortable using his products.

“In the LGBTQ community, there are a lot of guys who reach out. They can’t have makeup because they’re in an unsafe environment and appreciate the design of the products. People who have transitioned buy it because it’s gender affirming,” Shanahan said. 

The products are currently available at Stryx.com, Nordstrom, and Target.

This story was originally published on Purbalite on May 10, 2022.