To beard or not to beard

Ashutosh Valani and Priyank Shah, founders of Beardo in Ahmedabad, talk to G2 about the new trend of facial hair and the services their salon offers the well-groomed man

BEARDS have defiantly ruled 2015. And men don’t seem to be in a hurry to return to their clean-shaven ways. The beard has been considered a symbol of masculinity for centuries and psychological studies have confirmed that people associate bearded men as having success and status. Ashutosh Valani and Priyank Shah have started Beardo in response to this growing trend. They share with readers their unique success story.


Talk us through the genesis of Beardo. When and why was it established?

Ashutosh: Having a beard is not just a trend but a tradition. In most parts of the world you will see communities with different beard styles. For instance, bikers in the U.S. tend to keep a dense beard. Calling a beard the sign of our times isn’t completely out of order. Ranveer Singh as the bearded Peshwa Bajirao in Bajirao Mastani walked away with the top acting honours at the 2016 TOIFA. In fact, Varun Dhawan’s vengeful character from Badlapur was another bearded contender, for the top spot.

Where Bollywood blazes the trail, sports and music can’t be far behind. In fact, several iconic Indian sportsmen and musicians be it Virat Kohli or rapper Badshah are all bearded. If that isn’t a sea change, what is? Having a beard is considered quite the style statement these days.

Priyank: As per the research we conducted, there is a huge potential for grooming products for beards in India. In fact, India is a sellers haven—you just have to have the right product at the right time. This industry targets over 25 million users with a market size worth almost `2000 crores. Thus, Beardo was the result of a need to introduce products that specially cater to taking care of one’s beard as it is not advisable to use regular grooming products for beard hair. There is a lot of difference between regular oils and what Beardo provides in terms of chemical compositions.

The regular oils and washes that men apply on their beards are not meant for the skin, which is why the skin often breaks out. Beard oil conditions and rejuvenates your facial hair giving it a healthy life. Beardo products work in tandem to help keep beards moisturised, especially during the dry and cold months.

Beardo is headquartered out of Ahmedabad.


Do you believe that men today have become more conscious of good grooming?

Ashutosh: Of course! Gone are the days when men would take a backseat when it came to grooming. It is not only about looking good these days, it is about standing out. For example, one of our products, Ultraglow, a five-in-one face lotion was a huge rage from day one. We also get approached for fashion tips on a regular basis. This proves that we have come very far from the days when it was only about women looking good or women dressing up for an occasion. It is more equal now.

Priyank: People around the world have role models. When they see their favourite movie star or athlete sport a beard, it often motivates them to do the same. It is not a passing fad. People have experimented with beards and moustaches in the No Shave November campaigns and many of them have grown to love it and have now decided to take it further. A beard is not perceived as a symbol of rebellion any more. It is, in fact, an accepted norm and a prized accessory. And as with anything that is valuable, a beard needs care. Men are now as attuned to grooming as women are, especially in the corporate space.


What are the different treatments offered at Beardo?

Ashutosh: Beardo is a complete solution for the discerning modern male who is looking to maintain a beard as a style statement. The Beardo range of products includes Beardo Oil, Beardo Wash, Beardo Beard & Hair  Growth Oil, Beardo Moustache wax, Beardo Ultraglow and Beardo Brick Soap.


Do you use only natural, organic products? From where do you source them?

Ashutosh: A lot of time, effort, research and manpower has been put into getting the right formulation for our products that are both effective and nourishing. We have travelled across the country—Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Surat, Baroda and Pune—to understand what the market needs.

These products are sourced and manufactured from multiple places in India, one of them being Ahmedabad. India has a long-standing tradition of natural skin care and grooming, through essential oils and traditional methods. Beardo is a modern extension of the age-old science of Ayurveda with cutting-edge manufacturing methods that gives the modern Indian male a premium grooming product range to nourish, maintain and protect his beard, hair and skin.


Describe for us a typical client of Beardo.

Priyank: The major demographics of our product range at this point are men from the age of 19 to 50+, from which a higher acceptance of the product has been in the 19-35 year range. The customers are really happy to see products which are exclusively made for beard grooming.


Do you plan to extend your services or restrict yourselves to just beards and moustaches?

Ashutosh: Being a men’s grooming supplies provider, we are constantly on the lookout to provide our customers with more options. We have steadily increased the number of products in our offering and will continue to do the same in the near future as well. We do plan to eventually become the complete solution for all of a man’s grooming needs.

Priyank: We believe that ours is a dynamic and young brand, and product extensions are definitely the way of the future. We don’t plan to restrict ourselves to only the products we have right now and plans are afoot to make Beardo the ultimate men’s lifestyle brand. It is however going to be a gradual and well-planned foray.


Do you plan to open Beardo in other cities?

Ashutosh: We are already available pan India through our website and many other e-commerce websites. Besides that we are also planning to stock our products in salons based in different parts of the country.

As far as opening our own stores is concerned, that will happen only after we have received an overwhelming response to all our products.


Tell us a little about you—the founders.  How did you journey from degrees in business and management to starting a line of grooming products?

Ashutosh: After completing a Masters in International Business from Brunel University (London), I decided to return to Ahmedabad to start my own e-commerce venture that ended up becoming one of the leading portals in lifestyle products and consumer electronics. I always wanted to venture into a vertical that hadn’t been covered so far. Beardo was the result. There has always been a drive in us to do something on our own and do something different. So here we are.

Priyank: After completing my MBA from IBS-Ahmedabad in 2011, Ashutosh and I began our e-commerce venture. Four years of expertise in procurement and logistics led to the conception of Beardo. A label for any business is like a dream, and to see it succeed is a dream come true. Beardo was launched only after thorough research.

I truly believe that Beardo is at the vanguard of the new revolution for the men’s grooming industry. Post launch of six successful products in six months, I still believe we have just begun and there is a whole lot yet to achieve.


Any grooming advice for today’s metrosexual?

Ashutosh: First off, ensure that your skin is always taken care of and nourished. Skin care is extremely important. Always have a three-step cleansing, toning and moisturising routine. Use products that suit your skin type. If you sport a beard, always use a wash before you oil and comb it. Keep yourself well hydrated and get plenty of rest. That is the end all and be all of good skin care and grooming.

Priyank: For me grooming is all about pampering yourself. Use nothing but the best products for your skin, hair and cleansing routines. As Ashutosh rightly said, keep well hydrated. Always use a beard oil, as it not only strengthens and nourishes, but also protects your beard. Not to mention keeping it looking good all day long. Grooming is the secret weapon in all social situations from a business meeting to a date. I think it really helps to make a positive first impression.


Men in ancient Egypt had a keen sense of style sometimes dyeing their beards in various colours and even plaiting them with gold threading,  a hallmark of the richer class.
♦ Similarly in ancient Mesopotamia the well-to-do regularly oiled and dressed their beards, styling them in elaborate ringlets.
♦ Men of ancient Greece adopted the same kind of care and presentation of their beards, while men of ancient India grew their beards long to impress others as a symbol of their wisdom.
♦ The history of beards, contrary to the Roman Empire itself, experienced a fall and rise among peoples of the civilised world as a direct result of Roman influence. As the Roman Empire grew and expanded its boundaries, the popularity of beards waned, as most Romans became clean-shaven, following the practice of their Emperor.
♦ During the Middle Ages, it once again became commonplace for the upper classes to grow beards, and knights cultivated their facial hair as a sign of masculinity and honour. By the time of the Renaissance, most men became clean-shaven again.
♦ In the time of Henry VIII, the history of beards took on an economic twist when beards were declared to be a taxable offense, although Henry himself sported a full beard right up to the time of his death. Queen Elizabeth had ♦ a strong dislike of beards and made it a point to continue beard taxation simply as an expression of her personal disfavour.
♦ In Russia, Peter the Great, who had a powerful fascination with all things European, applied the same taxation of beards to Russian men of society.
♦ In the mid-19th century world leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Frederick III of Germany, Napoleon III of France, Charles Dickens, Karl Marx and Giuseppe Verdi all helped popularise beards.
♦ During the World Wars, beard growth was banned among soldiers because it interfered with the proper fit of a gas mask. A decade after the Second World War, the beatnik generation appeared. Their adoption of beards as a sign of ‘hipness’ was continued by the hippie movement of the 1960s and early 1970s.
♦ The Beatles did more for beards than any other cult figures.  When the band broke up so did the global prevalence of beards.
♦ Following a slight decline in popularity, beards today are enjoying renewed acceptance among international icons like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, David Beckham and Jake Gyllenhall. In India, Amitabh Bachchan, Virat Kohli and  Ranveer Singh lead the band of bearded celebrities.


Follicular folklore
In 1860, Grace Bedell, an 11-year-old girl, wrote to Abraham Lincoln encouraging him to grow a beard because as she said, “you would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.” Lincoln took her advice. The following year, on his inauguration tour, he met Grace in her hometown. “Look at my whiskers,” he told her. “I have been growing them for you.”


Beard styles from around the globe
Short, Medium or Long Stubble, Full Beard, French Fork Beard, Ducktail Beard, Circle Beard, Goatee Beard, Extended Goatee, Imperial Beard, Van Dyke Beard, Anchor Beard, Balbo Beard, Mutton Chops, Friendly Mutton Chops, Verdi Beard, Garibaldi Beard, Dutch Beard, Bandholz Beard






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