The Art of Being a Gentleman

The Art of Being a Gentleman

Determined to celebrate and share what it means to be a gentleman, Nick Gahagan’s Ballito Lifestyle Centre store, The Gentry, is a treasure trove of old-school trinkets and modern, masculine findings that encourage men to relax and appreciate life’s simple pleasures.
From indulging in a superior quality cigar, to writing with a classic fountain pen or enjoying a traditional shave, Nick believes there is much enjoyment to be found in life, if people simply slow down and immerse themselves in the experience, just like they did in the ‘good old days’…
Filled with beautiful, hand-sourced, bespoke items, The Gentry is Nick’s ode to the art of being a gentleman – something he learned from his own father who was a Captain in the airlines and often brought beautiful bespoke items back from his travels. “He curated the most wonderful collection of memorabilia, all of which ended up at my house,” laughs Nick. “My friends always joked that if I ever opened a shop, their wives would become good customers.”

Although he was born in the United Kingdom, Nick grew up in Zimbabwe. He returned to the UK at age 15 to finish his education. Nick took a job as a sports coach at a private school in Johannesburg while on holiday in South Africa when he was 21 – and he simply decided to stay after falling in love with the country.

Transitioning to the corporate world, Nick enjoyed a successful career in sales and marketing for over 20 years before starting his own business, launching the latest brands into South Africa.

Nick is married to Natalie, who runs her own successful below-the-line marketing agency, and the couple have two beautiful daughters, Skye and Sienna.

Nick and Natalie moved to KZN in the early 1990’s, living in Kloof and La Lucia before finally settling in Ballito. Having taken early retirement at 53, Nick was eager to keep himself busy and started toying with the idea of opening a shop in 2017.

Drawing on his skill, experience and interest in sourcing products globally – and using bits and pieces of his dad’s paraphernalia – the brand slowly started to emerge. While it was initially going to be called ‘The Man Cave,’ Nick says the name didn’t quite send the message they were looking for!
He ended up calling the shop, ‘The Gentry – Purveyors of Fine Gentlemen’s Goods,’ and they started out in a small retail space at the Ballito Lifestyle Centre in 2018.  “By 2019 we were exploding out of the store and needed a bigger store! We are continually sourcing new, bespoke products for our clients, and we have had the most phenomenal support and feedback.”

Every product is sourced, tried and tested by Nick himself, and The Gentry is filled with items that appeal to those looking for something unique and special.

“My dad taught me that there is an art to being a gentleman. He always wore a tie and blazer, relished a fine cigar, wrote with a fountain pen and enjoyed traditional shaves with a safety razor. Society has lost so many of these old school pleasures, because we are constantly chasing time and rushing.”

With about twenty percent of his products imported, Nick sources as much of his stock locally as possible. “We have fantastic local leather and clothing items – and our grooming section is by far the most popular in the store. Interestingly, more than sixty percent of our clientele is women,” he laughs.

When he’s not busy with the store, Nick enjoys spending time with his wife and daughters, as well as socializing, braaing, being outdoors and playing golf. “I really do love what I do, though,” he says. “I find great enjoyment in sourcing and curating items for the store. The Ballito Lifestyle Centre has been the perfect home for us as we have fantastic exposure to the right kind of clientele, locally, from around the country and from abroad. Many of these clients become online clients after visiting us at the centre. We are very blessed to be here.”