Parker's identity for Firsthand captures the cosmetics brand's industrial and humanitarian qualities
Firsthand Supply is a cosmetics and styling company based just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. It began as a passion project in a small apartment in 2017 but has since developed a much larger mission. They want to tell honest stories through their products, using healthy ingredients and valuing people over profit every step of the way.
In the early stages of 2019, Seattle-based studio Parker came on board to help them realise their goals and reach a wider audience through an updated identity and packaging system. They started by developing the brand line ‘Made with you in mind’, which became the ‘north-star’ for all creative decisions made throughout the project.
The identity itself feels both scientific and style-conscious thanks to Formular Mono, a monospace version of Brownfox’s ‘hip Swiss’ sans serif. The studio found the typeface to be rhythmic and appropriately ‘machined’ while remaining legible at the smallest of sizes. Its use is complemented by a custom Firsthand wordmark, which Parker’s Creative Director Tyler Eide tells us was drawn to “convey the ‘industrial/maker’ aspect of the business”. He adds that “the exaggerated ink-traps in the ‘A’ and ‘N’ are the most obvious visual element of this” and the “lengthened ‘F’, ‘R’ and ‘T’ are drawn to help the wordmark feel a bit more like Formular Mono”. The typographic choices are rounded off by ITC Roswell, which acts as the brand’s display typeface. “While not used often, it’s meant to help provide the opportunity for some louder messaging in places where something like Formular Mono might fall flat”, Eide explains.
The studio wanted the visual approach to reflect the creative mind of Firsthand’s Chief Chemist and Co-founder Felipe, so used handwriting from his sketchbooks to convey the bespoke nature of the product recipes. This personal touch is enhanced by the brand’s rather friendly-looking hand logo, which Eide explains was created “to help bolster the humanitarian aspects of the business narrative.” He adds that the hand is “used sparingly and tends to show up in places where the team can pair it up with a more sincere message. The form itself is intentionally left up to interpretation – its fluid lines are coming and going, equal parts busy and organic. It could be seen as offering help, reaching for a handshake, or simply welcoming you in”.
As well as the core identity system, Parker developed a series of custom packaging solutions for Firsthand. They produced everything from recycled plastics, which are intended to be reused through the company’s refill programme. The selection of black for the primary material colour was both deliberate and necessary – it worked out to be the most practical colour choice for recycled materials and helps to unify the product line. The addition of pastel colours offset the stark nature of black-and-white and moves the brand away from a barber-shop-masculine feel. “We’ve since continued to add colours, and will continue to grow the colour story by product and season”, concludes Eide.