When You Grow, Others Will Follow

We recently received a message from Mark, one of our highly valued Alliance members, that made everyone at Beardbrand stand up and holler. There were fist pumps and misty eyes in the room. It’s safe to say that this one message alone makes it all worth it. 

And we wanted to share it with you because it’s a pretty awesome story about how when you endeavor to grow, the ones you love will inevitably follow. May it inspire you to Keep on Growing. 

“For those who don’t know me, I attended Alliance Conference back in March 2019. I brought the wife, we made a week out of it in Austin, it was awesome to say the least. When I returned from Alliance Con in March, my “very teenage” son Matteo gave me such crap about it. “Did you actually go to a BEARD conference??” he quipped. “Like… a conference with dudes to talk about beards? You’re weird, Dad.”

Those of you who have teenagers know that it’s almost impossible to be cool in the eyes of your teen, so he gave me a healthy dose of ball-breaking for attending a beard conference. 

Nevertheless, my interest in Beardbrand did nothing but grow after I went to Austin, of course, and I continued to devour the videos and content regularly. 

My wife, Melina, became an instant fan of the company after visiting Austin, and so she and I would often watch the videos together, almost daily, on the Smart TV in the family room. 

Matteo would be passing through while we watched the videos and inevitably roll his eyes or make a mocking comment, “Watching beard videos again, huh?”

“Whatever dude.”

After a few weeks of this, Melina and I were watching one of Greg’s videos, and Matteo kinda stuck around and watched the whole thing. 

When it ended he said, somewhat reluctantly, “I actually kinda like this guy. You know, he’s got a cool voice, and uh… I don’t know… he just has like a cool style.”

“He’s my spirit animal,” I responded, and left it there.

About a week later we had a Carlos video on the tube. Matteo—who for months previous to this had been struggling with finding a hairstyle he’s comfortable with—came running into the room and was like, “THIS GUY HAS MY DREAM HAIR.”

I whipped out my phone and showed the little smart-ass a photo of me and Carlos Costa, arm-in-arm, smiling for a selfie at the Alliance Conference afterparty (CxBB). “You mean… THIS guy?” He just marveled at the amazing pompadour, “YES. You met him?? And is that not the most amazing head of hair or what?”

I just agreed and questioned nothing.

Then, a week or so later, he once again caught us watching another video and said, “Oh, this is a good one. Jake gives this guy a sick skin fade!”

I was bewildered. “Uh… how do you know that?”

“Because I already saw this one,” he admitted.

“You watch Beardbrand videos now?“ I asked with a sh*t-eater on my face.

He went on. “Ya know, I actually get it. I think I see why you’re into these guys. All the beard models have great beards and hair, you model your beard after Greg’s which is kinda cool, Jake and Mahesh are sick at what they do. I really just like the whole look and feel of their videos. I mean, it’s kind of a cool company. I watch their stuff every day. I get it now.”

I just smiled. Shortly after that, I brought Matteo into Philly to get his hair cut with Jake the Barber, who now cuts his hair regularly.

But that’s not the real story I wanted to share.

Matteo has ADHD, where he struggles mostly with “executive functioning skills.” Without going into the details of what that is if you don’t know, I’ll save you the time and just say that such a deficit translates to poor academic performance. For the longest time he has felt very inadequate and dumb, and has been annually depressed about his academic standing.

He told me a while ago, “Dad, I’ll never make it in college. I’ll never be able to have a nine-to-five, sitting behind a desk. It’ll just never happen. I can’t have a career like that.”

Knowing this about Matteo for many years, I have pushed the trades in my home. So back in the spring, Matteo decided to enroll in the very reputable trade school, here in our district, for this school year.

At the time he made this decision, he decided to pursue the carpentry program, to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, my father-in-law, who is a stone mason from Italy.

As excited and supportive of his decision as I was, it was odd to me, since Matteo never really demonstrated a genuine interest in building or construction or home improvement shows or anything like that. Regardless, we were elated about his trade school decision.

Then, at the end of a day during a particularly wicked heat spell we had here in PA in July, Matteo approached me. He said, “Dad. I have something to tell you.”

“What’s up, buddy?” I asked

“I was walking home from the store and saw a crew of guys working on a house outside. I saw them working on that house in the sun. It was so hot. I realized at that moment—I don’t ever want to do that for a living. I would hate to work out in the heat or the cold. There’s no way. I can’t do it.”

“Ok, bud,” I said. “I mean, I kind of wondered why you chose carpentry in the first place.” He seemed relieved.

“Well, I guess I chose carpentry because I thought you and Mom would be happy about that because I would carry on PopPop’s legacy and all that...”

“Dude,” I interrupted, “I want YOU to do what YOU want to do. Don’t do anything for me or mom, bud! Do you!”

He took a breath. “Well...that’s what I want to tell you. I find myself watching Beardbrand videos all the time. I like, REALLY just love the whole hair styling/beard culture thing. And after getting my haircut with Jake all this time, and seeing what he does and how well he does it, I just think I would be REALLY happy being a barber—where I can be on my feet, talk to people, create my own style and just be me, help people with their style, and start a career in the trades right out of high school like you said. I want to enroll in the Barbering Program.”

So, today is the first day of school in our town, and literally as I type this, my dear, first-born son Matteo is at the trade school on his first day, embarking on a career in barbering. Eric, Sylvester, Greg, Carlos, Jake the Barber, Jack, and the whole gang—please know that the brand and culture you’ve created and the mission you’ve set out on as a company has inspired a fifteen year-old boy struggling to find himself in suburban Pennsylvania to help others “Keep on Growing” through the vocation of barbering. And in taking that first step, he has—for the very first time—truly begun to “grow” himself.

Thank you for that.”

-Mark L.


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