Build-a-Beard Founders Open Up About All Things Beard


buildabeard_socialnerdiaEvery so often I stumble into an interesting + funny blog with the potential to stick around for a while. The moment I heard about Build-a-Beard, I knew I had to find out more about this "movement" and "organization" led by Kristina Weise and Alex Aizenberg. Please check them out on Twitter and Facebook, and attend the Beard Ball NYC on Feb 4th (with proceeds going to RightRides).

1. Build-a-beard has been getting some much deserved attention. What's the story behind it? When and how did you get started?

The idea for B-A-B came when I was admiring Paul Bank's new band, Julian Plenti, at the Guggenheim in August 2009. I (Kristina) found myself in a sea of bearded hipsters.  To keep myself amused that evening, I started picking out the "best beards of the night."  The next morning, I ran the idea past El Beardo (Alex Aizenberg) to have a blog dedicated to both beards and DIY facial hair creativity and voilà - Build-A-Beard.

2. The world probably wants to know what's next for you. What's the future of B-A-B? Will you ever actually take on Build-a-Bear?

Down the pipeline, we hope to throw a Beard Ball in every major city.  Next up for us is Spring/Summer 2010 in Los Angeles.  ‘R Bar’ in Los Angeles, California has already been gracious enough to contact us and offer up their venue.  A bar in Austin has reached out to invite us to Texas.  There is a real need for people to have an outlet for their beards – and that’s where Build-A-Beard comes in.  In addition, each city that we choose to have a Beard Ball, we will obviously pick a niche, community-focused charity to support.  Sadly, we will never take on Build-A-Bear – different industry all together – but bears are rad.

3. As beard experts/connoisseurs that study the art of the beard 24/7, do you ever look down on those who cannot grow a beard?

Build-A-Beard is about the celebration of facial hair, but it also is a nice niche group for those who admire beards.  So if people cannot grow beards, as long as they hold some sort of admiration for those that can (or just mild curiosity), they are welcomed in our bearded world.  Besides, some people are not built (ha ha) to be able to grow one, and that's OK... at most we will ask of those people is to try.

4. So does that mean that us who have not been naturally blessed with a beard can be cool too? How can we #proveit if we can't actually grow anything but a few embarrassing follicles?

If you cannot #proveit by submitting some scruff for yourself, you can help us scout beards.  We get emails and some text messages everyday from our loyal readers stating… “saw this beard on subway platform” to “check out my neighbors beard!”  Everyone can be cool and help out.

5. Beards have become cool again and sites like yours are taking it to the next level in beard celebration. Why do some people get so passionate about facial hair?

b-a-b_socialnerdiaBecause beards are still a counterculture effort and a statement above all, we think passion is a natural next step. We think that having a beard yields at least 2 questions -- and thus start a conversation -- why did you grow it and how long have you had it. People like to tell stories and people want to be recognized for doing something out of the ordinary... so we give them an outlet and pulpit to do so at Build-A-Beard.

6. What are you doing to spread the word about B-A-B? Has social media been good to you?

Social media has been a boondoggle of observation and a force of crowdsourcing in scouting beards on our behalf. We are huge fans of the Twitter Search of "Beard"... some of the most interesting tweets, conversations and observations are within that search trail... every day we make sure to either encourage those that are growing (people love to hear support, and we love to say "DO IT" if a questions is asked whether "i should grow a beard"). Facebook has been a major driver of traffic and community interaction as well. The speed with which we expanded our commuinity as surprised even ourselves... within a month and a half of FB utilization we have over 1600 fans, whom interact with us daily and prvide support when we cannot, or on top of our support... which begat more beards, which begat more posts, and so on and so on.

Additionally, organizationally SM was instrumental at the creation of Beard Ball... we secured raffle prizes, found a charity, alcohol sponsors, and of course the bands via SM channels. And more over... in terms of being able to reach twiterati people and celebs like GaryVee or John Daly or Jim Carrey, SM's role is crucial and fully evident... we hope to reach CharmCityCakes staff to interview their facial hair, as well as folks like Guy Fierri in 2010 and beyond.

7. Despite the bearded revolution that's going on, guys like Gary Vee and Jon Hamm have decided to shave. Do you think there's still a stigma that requires men to "clean up"?

There are various reasons still left to be tackled by organization like ours... Build-A-Beard prides itself in trying to raise the profile of beards as a personal choice and statement, but the reality is public sign on (and even sign on from significant others of beardos). On the corporate side there are many obstacles left, from guidelines when you can and can't grow facial hair or even the length that you are allowed to grow it for. As we said previously, all we really ask is for people to give it a chance, from both the perspective of growing it out as well as accepting others who choose to take the plunge.

8. But don't you think this might have something to do with the "Jersey Shore Effect"?

We don’t think the Jersey Shore effect has anything to do with the love and popularity of beards (!).  The bearded culture has been going on for numerous years – and it helps that recently comedians and actors have stepped up the growing process (e.g. Zach Ga lifianakis). Beards were around long before MTV, and we are confident they will rise again and remain ontop longer than any TV show or personality.

9. What about pogonophobia? How widespread is this.. Symptom? Is it contagious?

The fear of beards can easily be overcome by attending The 2010 Beard Ball this Thursday, February 4th at Matchless.  People who feel anxiety over facial hair will realize that there is nothing to fear, but rather, presents a unique opportunity to stroke beards.

beardaball_socialnerdia10. Any other reasons why people should attend the Beard Ball in NYC?

The 2010 Beard Ball is a place to show off your beards! And of course, B-A-B loves all facial hair follicles, so please note that if anyone who has a mustache, mutton chops, goatee, or any form of DIY artistic facial hair creations - are welcomed to attend!  In addition, if you are simply an admirer of facial hair – please know you’re welcomed to take in the hairy glory.

People should attend because it’s the year of the beard!  Plus it's only $5 to attend with all proceeds of ticket & door sales going to RightRides (www.rightrides.org).

Copyright © Esteban Contreras. All rights reserved.