SYDNEY, N.S. — Whiskers are in, and a local company is looking to take advantage of a trend men worldwide seem to have been embracing for the past decade.
Fashionable beards of different lengths and styles are now being worn by men of different backgrounds. It's no longer a hippie thing.
Keeping men's facial hair looking good and the skin healthy has been of particular interest to Tyler MacIntyre, the owner of the Cape Breton Beard Factory.
Sporting a full beard himself, the 31-year-old from Sydney, launched a beard oil line with his girlfriend, Anna McPherson, in June with the hope of growing a locally owned men's grooming care business.
"I got introduced to beard oil when I first started to grow a beard, which was years ago, and the issue was when I ran out of my first bottle I couldn't buy the oil anywhere but from the internet," he said in an interview Friday.
MacIntyre would have it shipped to his door but found with shipping, the cost rang up to $50 to $60 a bottle. He said the oil helps to soften the hair, acting as a conditioner, while also refreshing the skin underneath.
As a young guy looking to start his own business, he started the arduous process of product research to determine whether it was worth spending the time, money and effort into such a venture.
While he said they looked into securing a small business loan, for now they have been content to spend a "couple thousand dollars" of their own money into launching the company, while they both work at a downtown Sydney pub and he also picks up part-time work with Canada Post.
"There's a niche for sure," he said, adding each of the five brands of oil are named for a feature that's unique to Cape Breton, such as Louisbourg Fog and Out on the Mira.
Other scents include Coal Miner, The Highlands and the scent-free Skyline, which is named after the popular hiking trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Each bottle retails for $16.
"We wanted to use our island to kind of sell it. … (Beard oil) is becoming a thing. It's essential for guys. There is a massive market for it and we're just trying to bring a little piece of it to Cape Breton."
It took about a year to decide on a marketing strategy and the right blend of carrier or base oils - sweet almond, jojoba, grape seed and avocado - to mix together with essential oils.
MacIntyre and McPherson mix the oils, bottle and label them in their home, and in the short time they've been marketing the product it's been shipped as far as Alberta and British Columbia through inquiries on the company's Facebook page.
The oils are also available at five locations around Sydney, including at the Doktor Luke's coffeehouse, which has sold 30-35 bottles a month over the summer, said a surprised MacIntyre.
"I would never have guessed in a million years that we would sell 35 bottles a month at a coffee shop. But it seems to be the right fit for us."
They've also received some free publicity by giving a few bottles of beard oil to some of their scruffy friends, the members of the Sydney-based band, Pretty Archie, while the group was on tour in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands last month.
One of the band's members, Colin Gillis, sent MacIntyre photos of the Cape Breton Beard Factory's bottled oil from several locations in Europe.
"That was pretty neat. We were excited about it for sure," MacIntyre said.
The business still needs an online presence, other than social media, and he said they are working to set up an e-commerce website to take orders.
The couple's next foray will be a product launch for a moisturizing tattoo oil for those with newly adorned body art that he promises will be coming soon.
Cape Breton Beard Factory
- Doktor Luke's coffeehouse, 54 Prince St., Sydney
- Stay Sharp Barbering, 676 Grand Lake Rd., Sydney
- Halo Salon and Spa, 366 Townsend St., Sydney
- Hair Solutions and Spa, 122 Charlotte St., Sydney
- Cape Breton Curiosity Shop kiosk at Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion
- Online: facebook.com/cbbeardfactory/
- Email: email@example.com