MURFREESBORO — Over the past few years, more and more men have donned beards, goatees and moustaches. As the trend has grown, local makers sprouted their own men’s grooming companies in Rutherford County.
Maple Hill Beard Co. founder Parker Eakes said he was inspired in 2014 by all the beards he saw bristling around Nashville.
“Since then, it’s gone crazy,” Eakes said.
Bearded barbers from Murfreesboro Shawn Templeton and Aaron Dabney also saw the trend about two and half years ago and developed Woodsviking’s product lines.
Templeton, who has been a barber for 14 years and bearded for eight, kept seeing more and more clients with beards so, like Eakes, he and Dabney started researching beard care products.
Both companies followed similar paths with Maple Hill and Woodsviking toiling in their homes to develop all-natural recipes and cooking up batches in their kitchens.
When Eakes developed his recipes, he was working as a trainer for Apple and he kept seeing men with beards at his training sessions.
“People didn’t know anything about beard care products and those who did were buying online,” Eakes said.
He and wife talked, did market research and found they were at the beginning of a burgeoning trend.
Eakes, who has had a beard on and off for years, was the guinea pig for all of Maple Hill’s products. He tried different recipes and scents until he developed his first three scents of beard oils and beard butters.
He knew he was onto something when his wife complimented the softness of his beard.
“She was sold at that point,” Eakes said.
Why oil a beard?
Shawn Templeton gives Pierce Skipper, 9 a haircut in Templeton's shop the Woodsviking, on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. (Photo: HELEN COMER/DNJ)
Eakes’ wife was impressed because the products condition the beard and protect a man’s face, Templeton said.
He explained beard care products, like oil, balm and butter, gives the user’s beard something facial skin doesn’t produce and makes it more like the scalp, which produces oils that keep hair and skin healthy.
Using the products on a regular basis does something similar and can prevent in-grown hairs, acne and itching, Templeton said.
He explained WoodsViking beard balm, which is his product of choice, is beeswax, shea butter and other ingredients that soften the beard and give more control and shape.
“It smells great, makes it softer and shinier,” he said.
Templeton said it can even be used in hair in moderation to repair split ends and add shine.
Early beard adopter Travis Swann started making his own beard oil once he saw the benefits of it.
“I started making my own beard oil a few years ago with a blend of essential oils and jojoba oil among others,” Swann said, explaining he also uses beard balm and beard oil.
“While I used it to maintain beard health, I also used it for allergies and the overall effect has been great. By adding essential oils such as lavender and lemon, the allergy benefit is an added bonus and I've cut down my symptoms significantly,” he said.
In addition to the allergy control, beard balm helps with control and “gives it a more firm look and feel.”
He also uses a Maple Hill beard comb and, on occasion, a store-bought beard balm from California.
All-natural and homemade
Aaron Dabney and Shawn Templeton have developed an array of differnt beard oils and products that the sell at their shop Woodsviking Barbar Shop, on the square in Murfreesboro. Photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. (Photo: HELEN COMER/DNJ)
Both companies tout their all-natural products and their humble origins and what sets both companies apart from others is how they are made.
“I’m a barber so I know what’s good for hair,” Templeton said, explaining Woodsviking is the only beard care product made in Middle Tennessee that uses biotin to encourage hair growth.
Templeton and Dabney mix and package their concoctions at home from all-natural ingredients.
Eakes with his wife Kim and daughter Abby work together at their home in Milton to create, market and sell Maple Hill’s products.
“Everything we do is natural … And when we have the opportunity to get something from a local source, we do that,” Eakes said.
He explained the beeswax used in the beard butter comes from TruBee Honey in Arrington and the combs are made by a family friend.
The success of both businesses have led them to expand.
Maple Hill has added a handmade beard comb along with brushes and scissors, soaps and shampoos, and T-shirts.
Maple Hill is looking to expand into men’s care with additional products. After the beginning of the year, the company plans to introduce hand cream and shave products to its personal care line “and even more beard products in the spring,” Eakes said.
Templeton and Dabney have grown their side business into a full-service barbershop on the Square. When the men learned that Tiptop Barbershop was going to close its doors after 60 years in business, they took over in October and rebranded it as Woodsviking Barbershop.