Fashion Friday: Banking on beard growth, Cincinnati duo builds facial hair grooming elixir business

CINCINNATI - Beards have always been around, but they seem to be experiencing more growth these days.

As Scott Pardon, co-owner of Ohio Valley Beard Supply  told me: “In the 1970s it was trendy to grow your hair out, in the 1990s dreadlocks were are the rage and now we’re cycling back to beards”.

Last week was officially “Beard Week” at WCPO, but is facial hair really ever out of season?  

The idea of creating a business around beards became a reality for co-founders of Ohio Valley Beard Supply in January. Scott Ponder and Patrick Brown joined forces and share their love of beards by combining Ponder’s experience working as a hairstylist and with Patrick’s graphic design skills.

Ponder, who is also co-founder of the Northside Chop Shop , has been cutting Brown’s hair for nearly a decade. When the idea struck him to cater to bearded persons, he knew his longtime client would be the perfect partner. And thus, Ohio Valley Beard Supply came to life.

“I knew we needed something else to offer within the shop," Ponder said. "Instead of raising prices and driving our established clientele away, we opted to add beard grooming combined with our newly created line of elixirs, specifically formulated for beards. I wanted to be able to set the shop apart while continuing to do the things I love most: have great conversations evolved around my interests and build relationships."

The "while I sleep" business model

Brown's goals were to get his design work shown. After starting Ohio Valley Beard Supply, both gentlemen couldn’t be more pleased.

In just the five short months that they’ve been in business, other stores carrying their line of elixirs, including Article Menswear and Park + Vine, two businesses in Over-the-Rhine.

"To be honest, one of my goals was to make money while I slept," Ponder said. "I went to bed at 10:30 one evening... and the first sale took place at 11:30 p.m. that same night. Patrick wanted his branding to be seen and have stores carry our product, so both of those goals have been accomplished."

The two are also working on a line of specifically formulated shampoos and conditioners for beards. This week they submitted a video to First Batch , a company that connects the manufacturing community with entrepreneurs to take an idea from paper to product in four short months. 

What I liked most about my conversation with Ponder was his outlook on the business: He never prepared for failure. Before even sending his first elixir into production, he wanted to make sure that the manufacturer he was using was a company that could create 10,000 elixirs--if need be. He made sure he knew what to do to stifle any growing pains before they even arose.

What’s next?

The Ohio Valley Beard Supply just joined City Flea, the curated urban flea market that takes place in Washington Park, Over-the-Rhine.

Of course I had to ask Ponder for his take on the growth spurt for the beard trend. 

Well aware beards are again gaining popularity, Ponder believes they are also becoming more socially acceptable. While many have the notion that beards are typically long and unkempt, there’s been an increasing number of "styled beards." He referred to one style as the "corporate beard," which is starting to become more acceptable for employees to sport in business settings.

Connect with Ohio Valley Beard Supply:

Follow WCPO contributor Megan Fenno on Twitter @FENNOFashion  and check out her website, . Look for her column each Friday

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