Beards first went out of fashion with World War One. Gas masks wouldn’t seal over them, so the order came down to shave them all off. This coupled with the popularization of the safety razor led to hairless faces becoming the norm for generations. However, a little over 100 years since their downfall, the beard is back in a big way. From hipsters to Hollywood, more men are choosing to wear facial hair. Concurrent with a rise in boutique shaving products, the beard grooming industry is taking off.
Kansas City Beard Company is the most notable local player in the industry. It was founded by Mike Lockhart in 2014, during No Shave November. “I would notice when I itched my beard; I would literally have beard dandruff. So, I started to do some research about what I could do to get rid of it. I learned about essential oils and carrier oils. I looked to see where I could buy some stuff locally and I couldn’t find anything.”
Mike set to work in his basement making his own beard grooming solutions. After testing his creations on some of his friends — who loved the product — he saw a market. “If I couldn’t buy it, nobody else could, and it’s obviously something they need. I hit the pavement running — marketing, cold-calling, hitting up local businesses to carry my stuff.”
In 2016, Mike was in need of a partner to further grow the business. He found one through YouTube “beard product reviewer” Lance Twidwell. Lance got in touch with Mike about reviewing KC Beard Co.’s wares and the partnership developed from there.
Mike says, “We did an event together and I really liked Lance, his interaction with the customers, and his passion for his beard. It made sense for us to team up and let Lance be the face of the company, get out there and grow the retail channels.”
Lance says beards are here to stay and believes beard grooming is part of a broader trend in society. “People are beginning to take care of themselves; they’re more conscious of the way they look and more importantly, what they put into their bodies. You see a lot more people that are going vegan, eating cleaner, going into fitness. It’s not just a trend; it’s a way of life for a lot of folks. So, I think there’s just a follow through there.”
Still, both men confess that beard oil can be a hard sell at first. Mike says, “Men since the beginning of time have been growing their facial hair but have never really seen the relevance of using beard grooming products until they try it themselves. To this day we’ve yet to have somebody that’s used our products tell us it didn’t do what we told them it would do.”
Mike and Lance are passionate about the quality of their manufacturing, which is done locally. Lance says the company has a dedicated lab and they use medical grade supplies in the beard oil processes. Both men say it’s a labor of love with Lance adding, “It’s a three to five-hour process but it’s worth it. When I’m doing my sales pitch to somebody, I’m giving them something I’ve spent my time and effort on. I’m not trying to sell them on something; I’m giving them something I believe in.”
KC Beard Company’s products are in 18 stores in the metro.