We asked the woman who launched Black Men with Beards (@blackmenwithbeards) questions we would ask a man and sprinkled her gems throughout. It was an interesting conversation because she doesn’t have a beard, nor does she plan to grow one. Quinn Gordon, a photographer, and the founder of Black Men with Beards, The Well Groomed Life (@thewellgroomedlife), and HERevolution Creative Studio, a full-service creative agency, believes there’s space for every Black man to be himself.
Before Black Men with Beards (aka BMWB), Quinn had a strong desire to create a safe space for Black men. Following the brutal murder of Mike Brown, one of our 18-year old unarmed, Black boys who was fatally shot by a Ferguson police officer on August 9, 2014, and left mid-Canfield Drive for four hours, “I just remember feeling very frustrated, very exhausted during this time period.” Quinn, born in Germany, describes American racism as “very in your face.” And though she has experienced racism first-hand, she acknowledges that the Black man’s struggle is “just different.”
After one of her best guy friends shared that he had been discriminated against during a job interview because of his beard, Quinn launched BMWB to encourage Black men to unapologetically rock their thick and luscious beards. But like Quinn’s friend, skin conditions leave most Black men with no choice but to grow a beard. “He actually took very good care of his skin and his beard. They compromised. He cut it down, but he didn’t shave it. He let it grow out once he got the position.” Sounds familiar?
While some corporate cultures frown upon Black, natural hair, the men Quinn highlights are successful as f*ck. “If they see other men doing it, they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s not so bad,’ and they go get their beard facial.” Black Men with Beards features beards of a Harvard-trained MD, a psychology Ph.D. student, an engineer, and an Award-Winning actor. So, the question is do beards stifle performance, or do you have a beardless, hatin’ a*s boss? If we had to guess, probably the latter.
BMWB’s 62% female followership inspired Quinn to create a t-shirt line with sayings like, “What that beard do?”; “Save a Horse, Ride a Beard.”; “Blk + Bearded AF”; and “BILF: Beard I’d like to Fondle.” In 2018, Quinn launched the beard grooming product line ICNC 38 (pronounced iconic). ICNC 38’s 3-in-1 system is designed to treat hair follicles from the inside out. Their skin and beard elixir serves as a full-face oil-cleanser, moisturizer, and hydrator. “If you don’t take care of your skin, it’s going to show up in your 40s. Dark circles under your eyes. Your skin’s gonna be dried out.” ICNC 38’s list of ingredients includes argan oil and castor oil which are vegan-friendly and sourced in New Orleans by a Black herbologist.
Since its launch, BMWB has evolved to include mental health, sexual relationships, an annual calendar of bearded men, and the annual Beard of the Year contest. “Men weren’t groomed to care about stuff like that. That’s why we make it a point to show this in our own content.” BMWB has set a high standard for women who now want “6-feet men, and they gotta be bearded.” “As long as it’s kept up, I don’t mind the long one. Although I’ve seen guys when they eat, and it can get gross. It’s like a bib for their chin.” Quinn likes a beard lined up and “close to the face.”