If you’re familiar with J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth fantasy writings then you’ll know that Treebeard is a fictional character from the Forest of Fangorn who is hairy and looks a bit like a tree. I just looked it up.
If, on the other hand, you asked ME what TreeBeard was, then I’d reply it’s a brand of male grooming products specifically for the beard and moustache. The products; balms, soaps and waxes all smell delicious and its owner, Iain Mackenzie, has a glorious red beard.
I discovered TreeBeard at Manmade, an event organised collaboratively by Etsy UK, Crafty Fox Market and Mr Wingate at the Old Truman Brewery a few weeks ago. All the crafters were male and a large majority had impressive facial hair. I spent a delightful couple of hours checking out the wares of these talented men – it would seem that beards and talent walk hand in hand once again!
Mr TreeBeard himself agreed to a little Q&A so read on to see what this musician turned bearded entreprefur had to say when we caught up with him last week:
Tell us about Tree Beard – how did you get started?.
I came up with the idea after spending a lot of time and money buying beard balms and moustache waxes and never being truly happy with the trend for adding artificial fragrances. I’d recently retired as a touring musician and needed something new and exciting to do with my spare time… TreeBeard Balms and Waxes became just that.
My old day job surrounded me with creative people and so there weren’t many difficulties in starting TreeBeard… I started out making the “Original” beard balm for myself and a few beardy friends and it escalated from there. A friend suggested I start selling, another friend (David Blackford), an illustrator designed my logo, and that was it… I was off.
I love your Beard soap (it’s rare I’m able to trial one of the products myself) What’s your best seller in the range?
My original beard soap is very popular… It’s a great everyday face soap as the Australian blue clay is super fine and is a really gentle exfoliator. My most popular product is most probably the Honey Bourbon beard balm, however my favourite is the Dark Roast beard balm… The roast coffee oil in it is amazing!
How long have you been cultivating your own facial hair?
I’ve never been clean shaven… in the past I continuously had a layer of long stubble… but I decided to start growing it out a couple of years ago. Since then I’ve had it trimmed back, neatened, and tidied up… but now I’m growing it… BIG.
The only frustration is that my beard is curly… which is a curse and a blessing… it grows thick… but it grows SLOW.
What’s your view on grooming? Do you prefer a natural look or do you think regular trims and preening are the way to go?
I don’t think the two ideas are mutually exclusive… I like a natural full beard but that can take as much work and care (if not MORE so) than a shorter beard. Whatever you’re growing, you need to be responsible, keep it clean, keep it healthy.
Finding a good barber is key to a longer beard… In the past I’ve had mine butchered by a barber who didn’t listen to me and didn’t have much of a clue as to what to do with it.
What is an acceptable length of time to spend grooming one’s beard?
There’s no hard and fast rules here… As long as it takes to look good.
I give my beard a full wash once or twice a week… But I have to give it a thorough dry (with a gentle hairdryer) every time I get out if the shower… I have super sensitive skin and leaving it wet is a bad idea. Then I use TreeBeard balm and comb it through… That only takes a minute or so.
Do you have a favourite barber in your area? Or can you give us any insider tips?
A while ago I met Steve from Rocket Barbershop in East London… I now wouldn’t trust anyone else with it. He rescued it after the aforementioned “butchering” and claimed ownership of it from that point on… It’s great to find someone with a genuine passion for helping you grow the best beard possible.
Rocket now has a few different shops in London… I suggest finding out when Steve is in for a beard trim or going to one of his all day “beard bars”.
Big companies make a LOT of money out of mass produced shaving products…
What do you think about the hygiene hype and that beards are finally over?
Poppycock, pish, and piddle!… Typical big business/media hype. Big companies make a LOT of money out of mass produced shaving products… The bearded community values natural, handmade, artisan products… They can’t join in so they’d rather people just stopped growing and started shaving again… Boo to that.
Tell us about life before Tree Beard?
Before TreeBeard I was a touring musician, then I retired and got a “proper job” working for a well known computer/phone/watch company… I think I was always destined to be my own boss though. I recently moved to Brighton and took the opportunity to quit my day job and put more time into TreeBeard.
Give us 3 words that best describe you?
Gin and Tonic… Mmmmm Gin.
Who is your bearded hero and why?
I’d be lying if I didn’t say Steve from Rocket Barbershop… But honourable mentions need to go to Brian Blessed and the Wildling from Game of Thrones with the awesome ginger beard… Tormund Giantsbaine?… What a beard.
Beardrevered will be reviewing TreeBeard products on 13th July – check back to see the results.
TreeBeard on Etsy UK