When Joan Crawford uttered the inimitable words, "This ain't my first time at the rodeo," she could well have been describing entrepreneur and businessman, par excellence, Brian Swan. His latest venture sees him teaming up with Ryan Kearney to create a range of natural beard care products called Unstoppable Beard. Brian, of course, is better known as one half of the dynamic duo that created the Unstoppable Branding Agency. He and his wife, Rhonda Swan, co-created the company as part of their move towards becoming the world's first digital nomads. Daughter, Hanalei Swan, has followed in her father's footsteps by launching her own range of sustainable fashion - HS Styles, - at only 10 years of age.
Speaking of his own career highs, Brian says, "I've created multiple businesses online: E-commerce, consulting, marketing & branding while my speciality is in strategic business development." Brian has already proven his savvy via the Freedom-Preneur movement, which he helped to create, launch and facilitate. This global movement has helped countless thousands of corporate slaves escape their desks and live out their dream life.
How big is the beard market?
It's clear that Brian will need all of those skills to conquer this humongous market. The global market for beard-grooming is expected to jump from almost $19 billion, in 2020, to around $27 billion by the end of 2025. Not surprisingly, major cosmetic companies are keen to get in on the act and competition is expected to be fierce. However, Brian remains unfazed by the scale of the competition and instead has focused on making himself unique in the marketplace. Most of his product range is made locally in Bali, where he lives. It is also made ethically, from sustainable materials, and, best of all, it does no harm to the environment. What's more, Brian is leveraging his previous experience, in online community-building, to create a 'tribe' of 'Beardsmen' who are bound by their interest in caring for themselves while living life to the fullest.
Indeed, analysts suggest that a major driver behind the growth of this market is the Millennials who deem it fashionable. Full beards are socially acceptable and so is the manscaping that accompanies it. Whilst men were once dubious about self-pampering, and buying products that made them 'prettier', now, it's the norm. Beard oil is definitely king when it comes to beard care products; hotly followed by beard wax. Many companies are also offering a range of shampoos and conditioners to ensure silky locks. Unstoppable Beard has conveniently packaged together all the essential items in a bundle so that the discerning man can easily care for his bristles. And, if someone isn't sure where to begin, the website includes how-to videos that teach the all-important techniques.
A short history of beards
There's no doubt about it, beards are in vogue. The hipster movement, which has gained momentum within the last decade, has transformed whiskers into a global phenomenon. But society hasn't always welcomed beard-wearers with open arms. The Romans were famously repulsed by Germanic tribesmen, dubbing them, "spiritless, cowardly and unwarlike...[with] such deformity of visage…" In other words, "What an ugly bunch!" The Romans believed that only the poorest in society should be seen with a beard - beggars, lowlifes and country bumpkins.
The French also treated the matter gravely. In 1535, they declared an 'Edict on beards'. No one sporting facial hair could be admitted to a court of law. In essence, this precluded them from obtaining justice. A couple of hundred years later, in 17th Century Russia, Peter the Great decreed that every proud Russian male should shave. If they refused, a hefty tax awaited them. Even the USA had a love; hate relationship with the humble beard. Its post-civil war Presidents - especially Abraham Lincoln - were largely responsible for bringing fashion to the forefront of American society. They, in turn, were influenced by a popular conception that beards were a potent sign of virility, strength and masculinity - vital traits for a proud statesman.
By the early 20th century, even the US witnessed a marked decline in the trend's popularity. Film stars sported crew cuts and were mostly clean-shaven. Marketers jumped on the bandwagon and began to hawk their wares to the general public. Mega brands, such as Gillette, were born, preaching their baby-faced gospel. It wasn't until the 1950s that there was a resurgence, largely championed by the counterculture. Beatniks led the charge throughout the 50s before handing the baton on to Hippies throughout the 1960s. During the 60s and 70s, the beard was back in full flow. After a further dip in popularity, in the '80s, the beard was reborn, in the 90s, as the goatee. Wearing a full beard didn't become truly fashionable again until 2010, with a plethora of beard care products in tow.
What does the beard symbolise?
But what sparked the return of the beard? Studies are all in agreement on one fact: the beard is a sign of competitiveness. A beard makes a man look more mature and masculine. At times of intense competition, like the ice hockey playoffs, men will intentionally grow a beard to signal that they are 'in it to win it. It's no surprise that full beards saw their biggest resurgence in the aftermath of the economic meltdown, 2007-2008. As global competition for jobs, status and market share heated up, so did the tendency towards fuller beards. It's logical really: the more men have to 'fight' for position and status, the more they tend towards wearing a beard. It appears that Brian implicitly understands where his customers are coming from. He knows that men are fighting to survive, fighting to succeed. The Unstoppable Beard brand offers men what they don't often find: a sense of belonging, understanding, and appreciation.