From engine oil to beard oil: Botwood mechanics turn a bet into a business

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From engine oil to beard oil: Botwood mechanics turn a bet into a business

It started as a friendly bet — a beard-growing competition — between two mechanics in central Newfoundland, but turned into one of the province's newest men's products.

Disappointed with what they saw on the market, and with some spare "tattoo money" to throw in the kitty, Adam Hancock and Brandon Stephens started making their very own beard oil in Hancock's kitchen in Botwood.

A few months after the first batch was created, Bearded Puffin Co. is selling beard oil and beard balm online, at craft fairs and on shelves in St. John's.

"He just made it, and it's been flying since then," said Hancock.

"It's doing really well, especially in Central."

Going their own way

About two years ago, as Hancock and Stephens were working side-by-side at the Toyota dealership in Grand Falls-Windsor, the pair struck up a contest to see who could grow the best beard.

Neither had much facial hair before the bet, but with bragging rights and $10 on the line, both grew substantial beards. That's when they turned to beard oil.

"He convinced me to buy some, and it wasn't that great. We were really let down," said Hancock. "He looked at me and said, 'man, I've made it before.'"

The first batch was brewed in August and the company now has three different types of beard oil and beard balms — all hand-made using ingredients like grapeseed and jojoba oils and closely-guarded fragrances.

The products are mixed, heated, poured into one-ounce bottles, and sold for $15.

Beard oil is essentially a leave-in conditioner, which moisturizes the skin underneath your beard, according to Stephens. He said the key is to not make a product with an overwhelming smell, but something that you could live with all day.

Their original blend promises a "woodsy earth aroma for your inner woodsman." 

"It's a bit of a beauty product, but we like to call it men's grooming," 

Catching on

Hancock's Botwood home is a good place for brewing — the pair have the run of the house after his children go to sleep.

Production, usually on a Friday night, takes on a laid-back feeling, according to Stephens.

"We're dancing around, we're heating everything up, trying new things," Hancock added. "It's outside of work, right? So we can actually be us. So it's really good just to bro out, pretty much." 

Hancock and Stephens said they'd love to sell their products in a retail store such as Fogtown, in St. John's, and ride the wave of new men's hairstyles and grooming fashions.

But right now, they're enjoying the rhythm they've found.

"Eventually, hopefully, we could get a storefront and make a job of it, but right now it's a hobby that makes us a bit of money, so it's great for us," Stephens said.

"I'd like to think we're part of the beard movement. It's definitely a new thing, a new trend, but we're hoping it's not going to die. We're hoping the beard trend is going to continue on for a long time to come."