Nothing beats the personal freedom when working for yourself; and even more rewarding—if the career you’ve created is based on sharing your passions in life with others. Our latest Urban Beardsman Chris Brown, not only has a niche for beautifully illustrating his love for life, music, and classic Americana-style through his own Refueled Magazine; but displays you can do what you love while staying true to your own ideas and views.
Born and raised in The South, Brown is a child of the 60s’. He notes surrounding media such as television; radio (and most of all) print helped shaped his style early on. “My grandfather bought me my first MAD magazine when I was eight years old. It definitely spoke to the rebel inside me, but it was LIFE magazine that really set off the inspirational spark. With it’s large format, full bleed/full page photos, clean design and direct text, it directed the aesthetic I have today. That same year, I created my first magazine called Tejas. I drew all the covers, created fake ads, included cartoons and wrote about folks I knew. I took those eight and a half sheets of typing paper, stapled them down the sides and sold them to neighborhood kids for ten cents.”
Through years of experimentation Brown perfected his craft with publication and shaped his voice. He reveals the famous novelist and poet Jack Kerouac as an early influence in helping his vision come to life. “His work reminded me to write about what you know, and what you experience. He wrote about his adventures with (and about) his friends: writers, poets, photographers, and adventurers. My small group of friends are: writers, poets, photographers and adventures, but also include everyone from bikers and chefs, to musicians and designers—people who make jeans, leather goods, beard oils and soap. I’ve learned pulling different things together and combining them in an interesting way creates great outcomes. It’s like the game people play; if you could invite five people, dead or alive, to a dinner party, who would they be? The right combination, for anything, is really important.”
Since the birth of Refueled Magazine, it’s gained huge momentum with an abundance of loyal readers; receiving recognition from media powerhouses such as Ted Talk, who invited Brown to host his own conference. Brown also explains Refueled takes on the role of a personal journal of sorts. “I simply write and share what I’m interested in so I never cater to anyone’s taste but my own. The fact that so many folks have found Refueled and dig what it’s about is always a pleasant surprise. It’s always great to have someone approach you and say they love what you do.”
In speaking on some of the most rewarding aspects of Refueled’s success, Brown states, “One of the best parts of publishing a magazine is the people you get to meet—people you probably would have never met otherwise. The fact that I get to do what I want, when I want, and in a creative way is a true blessing. Having the complete freedom to express myself, ideas and views with folks enjoying it—I’m definitely living the American dream!”
Whether he’s traveling, researching, or shooting features for the magazine, there is no such thing as a typical day for Brown. He’s a self-proclaimed workaholic, but states all of his extra time is spent with his wife of twenty years and two children. “I love to spend as much time with them as possible and enjoy home life. I ride bikes or skateboard with the kids. My wife and I are big readers, so you’ll often find us with a new book. We’re also big foodies, so we really enjoy cooking together. My wife is the best Italian cook I know. Well, besides my mom!”
Being that his unique personal style is the foundation for his brand, Brown shares that inspiration stems from his upbringing in the 60s’. “Back then, growing out your hair was a way of showing your individuality, and I couldn’t wait until I could grow a beard. The minute I started to sprout hairs on my chin, I began experimenting with different styles. About five years ago I decided to completely stop trimming my short beard and let it grow out for a year, and I’ve kept it at varying lengths ever since. Brown also reveals his beard symbolizes freedom of choice and expression. “Although I think there is a definite perception that beards are a “trend” at the moment, my hope is that beards are looked upon as a natural sign of manhood and independence for years to come.”
In today’s heavily bearded society, Brown admits he does occasionally get oblivious looks from some. “I think it’s also doubled by the fact that I have a sleeve of tattoos. However, my encounters have all been really positive. I constantly have folks come up to me, (male and female), and say cool and curious things from “great beard”, to “how long did it take you to grow that?” The greatest times are when small kids look and point and tell their mom or dad to look.”
In order to keep his beard well-maintained, he shares, “I go to a barber regularly and get my beard trimmed and shaped every two months or so. I also use some great soaps, oils and wax made specifically for beards and a mustache.”
As Refueled continues to evolve and expand, Brown admits, “As a publisher, I’d like to see magazines become and thought of as vinyl music albums. One you spend time with, get to know, and in the end—keep around and continue to pick up again and again. There is something special about picking up an old album—the feel, the smell and the art—becoming familiar with it all over again. I have that same experience with magazines.”
In the spirit of Brown’s seamlessly clean aesthetic to his magazine, we have no doubt Refueled will remain a timeless classic, standing the test of time. And although Brown has worked extremely hard to get where he is today, he makes it seem so effortless in his artistic approach to sharing a view into his world. For those wondering how to take similar steps in their career, follow Brown’s advice, “As long as you’re true to, and create for yourself—criticism, rejection or failure will never exist.”.