RELICS ON MAIN STREET

written by: Caleb J. Meeker

So, this is my first actual "Blog" and it's not even beard or grooming related. Although, as timeless as a good beard may be; I believe these to be in the same category as far as aesthetics are concerned. Classic.

I've always had an appreciation for things that remind me of the past. My eyes have been drawn to things that most people tend to overlook being that it's not flashy or new. This is why for as long as I can remember seeing them, I've been enamored with the old hotel signs still standing along Main Street here in Mesa, Arizona.

All different, they each show the same signs of age and wear from the intense Arizona sun. Letters are either missing or completely sun-baked and no longer visible. Some of the neon still works, although you'd think someone was using them to send morse code messages to passing motorists. What I love the most is that they still have there own distinct style that has remained largely unchanged.

Anyways, here they are. Hopefully you enjoy looking at these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

 

PRODUCT REVIEW/WRITE-UP BY TYLER WENDLING

Hey guys!

My friends at Westward Men's Grooming Co. sent me some samples of their beard oil and I wanted to review them with you guys. Westward Men's Grooming Co. as a beard oil company hailing from Phoenix, Arizona that uses all natural ingredients. All of their products are made in small batches so that each bottle of beard oil is the best quality possible. It is also made by Veterans and it's American made so thats probably the best thing about this feature. It's supporting a small business, its handcrafted in American, and Veterans make it. HOW AWESOME IS THAT ?! Here's a little more about them:

"We here at Westward Men Grooming Co. are determined to provide gentlemen everywhere a superior grooming product made with only the finest quality natural ingredients. Through painstaking research and extensive testing, we have curated a masterful blend of oils specifically intended to condition, moisturize and enhance the look and feel of your beard and skin.  All of our products are hand crafted in small batches to ensure top notch quality. We stand by our product and we believe that our oils are second to none."- Westward Men's Grooming Co.

The two oils that they sent me are the "Woodsman" and the "Desert Dweller"

The Woodsman blend has a spicier aroma and it also has a woody smell that accentuates the spice ever so slightly. It has essences of sandalwood, rosewood, and cedar wood oils along with the cinnamon. When I wear this oil, it instantly reminds me of Christmas because of the cinnamon and the fresh cut pine tree branches in our house during the holidays. This one is my favorite out of the two. 

The Desert Dweller has more of a cleaner aroma. It has eucalyptus and sage in it, which makes it more of a "leafy" aroma to it. I love wearing this one when it’s rainy out. It’s a fresher, lighter than the spicier Woodsman.  I've used both oils as cologne as well.  So as you know, I made a little look book for their oils:

Go give Westward Men's Grooming Co. a follow on all of their social media's

WEBSITE

INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK

Have a great weekend everybody and have a safe Halloween!

-Tyler

MOHs Scale

written by: Stephen A. Dunegan

Some have asked me why I have a beard.
Questioning my motives in the guise of intrigue.
-- I want to see what you look like behind it.
-- Isn't it hot?
-- Is growing a beard a thing now?

For the above inquisitive probing I answer with a bellowing "yes".

It has nothing to do with with multiple chins or the covering of a multitude of sins.
Where to begin...
My current beard endeavor started during an elongated hospital stay.
Bed rest did very little to keep the foliage at bay.
Let's just say my scruffy appearance mirrored my tattered and worn soul.
It felt as if I had to learn to walk all over again.
Sleep interrupted by medical injections.
Atrocious hospital cuisine.
Catheter, epidural and neck IV's.
Not what you'd expect from a somewhat healthy 29 year old.
Ironically some diagnosis said it was the gym that made me sick.
All that said it was at this period that my beard became thick.
So sarcastically when someone asked me how to grow such a face sweater I'd reply "check yourself into a hospital...that should do the trick."

During my weeks and weeks of being ill I watched countless Storage Wars, Family Feud and Duck Dynasty(unrelated to the beard; I promise)
I remember those who visited me, when and how much.
Subsequently, I remember those who never did.
The excuses I received varied.
From "I was out of town" to "hospitals make me uneasy"
Really?!
Hospitals make you uneasy?
Shoot.
I personally love being here.
Who needs Club Med when you have Club Meds.

Not many understood the fragility of life I was facing.
My food cravings is what I feel like pregnancy would be like but I feel that comparison is ill advised.
I needed those chicken strips though.
Luckily I have wonderful friends that went to various establishments in search for that breaded fowl.
Speaking of foul...I wanted a shower like yesterday.
I'd give up my state of immobility for it...such a sacrifice.
I remember Johnny sleeping on the chair next to my bed the night before surgery.
I remember late night visits from a friend in which we would just bask in nostalgia.

You want to know what friendship looks like?
It looks like waking up in the clothes you wore the day before.
It sounds like "you will be fine, man. God's got this."
It feels like the subtle calm comfort in the midst of failed sedatives and the pacing of a well-meaning yet hysterical aunt.
It's waking up from surgery with no concept of time to a dear friend and my mom laughing and talking...mind you they never met.
It gives like taking donations due to months of missed work.

Upon release I marveled at little victories and small accomplishments I once took for granted.
Such as putting on jeans again; the merriment that followed most couldn't understand it.
Taking showers and being able to get the right side of my body wet. 
You know, things we do that we tend to forget.

Oh, yes. 
The beard.
A few weeks after my release and before I could roam around without the assistance of a cane, my grandfather was admitted to the same hospital.
On the same floor only a couple rooms from where I had become very acquainted. 
One of the last times I got to hear his laughter and hug his neck.
After I hugged him he marveled at the softness of my beard.
He assumed by appearance it was coarse and of course most do.
He caught his chariot home shortly after.

I will never forget any of this so before you dismiss my grizzly outer as a fad or cover-up I'd like to advise you to revisit the steps that I took to get here.
The tears that moisturized separates me from other Instagram bearded guys.
Grave before shave and growth before demise

Beard Through the Years

written by: Stephen A. Dunegan

"The man is the measure of all things"- Greek philosopher Protagoras

"The measure of man is the beard"- pseudo Arizonan philosopher Stephenidas

"There is nothing nobel in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self…and growing an awesome beard" possibly Ernest Hemingway

     Growing a beard has been a sign of manliness since the dawn of time and/or notated history. Scientists found that prehistoric men had used beards for warmth, protection and intimidation; the same could be said for modern men. In various ancient civilizations beards were a sign or honor and really only cut as a form of punishment. You can put some of the blame of shaving on Alexander the Great for he decreed that his soldiers could not have a beard for fear of having them pulled in battle. What?! Absurdity I tell you! Such a small price to pay for such a great thing. Throughout the centuries we can see four distinct "beard movements" as described by Christopher Oldstone-Moore who literally wrote the book on beards.

-The first came with Roman emperor Hadrain who believed in stoic philosophy which stated that it was essential to follow the rules of nature and since beard was natural it was seen as a sign of wisdom.

-The second came in the 1100's in which most everyone grew beards except for priests.

-The third in the Renaissance in which most who grew beards did so out of blatant rejection of the church and their rule.

-The fourth in the 1850's in which the popularity of beards was so monumental that nearly every European army required a mustache of beard of some sort.

     Are we living in the fifth beard movement? Not sure but it's up to you and I to decide.

     Otto the great often swore by his beard whenever he said anything of serious nature. In the middle ages touching another man's beard was offensive and grounds for a duel. In the 16th century new beards made an appearance such as the stiletto beard and the forked beard. In the 19th century President Lincoln made beards popular for all Americans.

     In a recent study, a group of women were polled and their findings aren't surprising nor are they grounds for shift or care but interesting nonetheless. They stated that full-bearded men were 2/3's attractive as clean shaven but they also stated that the FB(full-bearded) appeared to be older, more respected, more powerful and of a higher status.

38% of them stated that FB men seemed to be less generous.

36% less caring and 51% less cheerful.

     Now, let it be known this is merely an appearance driven study. With no in depth conversations or anything deeper than follicles. I know many, many, many bearded men who provide much more substance than those I have met without. Always exceptions to any rule or study. Forbes list of the 100 richest men found that 98% of them are clean shaven. However…

98% of the world's lumberjacks, warriors and all around badasses have beards.

     According to the US psychologist Robert Pellegrini "the male beard communicates an heroic image of the independent, sturdy and resourceful pioneer, ready, willing and able to do manly things." An excerpt that would seem to have been written last week but was scribed in 1973 about his study of the beard.

     All in all the beard has been used to protect manhood and certain values and ideals for years; as it's popularity and trend can be traced to periods of lows/highs of masculinity in culture and society. This is no different really. We must merely defend those not ready to.

Let It Grow!- How Not To Be Frozen In Unhealthy Beard Habits

written by: Stephen A. Dunegan

     We have all been, in some form or another, on the receiving end of compliments whether by loved ones or perfect strangers. It could be our duds for that day or a physical feature. As bearded men we have been given a great privilege. A tool for prowess and stature that not just anyone can bear (not bare.) A signifying visible mark of discipline and growth. In the same regards we have at one point acknowledged another’s strengths or beauty. For most of it has been given to a female but for us who know the time and effort put into a great beard or mustache we must humbly give honor to facial foliage greatness. However, there is great danger in comparison. One of the biggest reasons for my previous bouts with completely shaving my growing beard was comparison. I felt as if I couldn't grow the most epic of beards I didn't want it all without putting any careful consideration into the time and diligence it takes to grow; in any form. In these vulnerable moments we must remember that there are many that are envious of usthat are able to grow substantial facial hair. We must grasp the prestigious ring of honor we were given and wear it proudly.

     There are multiple co-factors for ones inability to grow or sustain a beard or mustache. Some of these are controllable and some of these are pure obstacles we must overcome. I have many close friends who can grow beards of titanic proportions. They are things truly to be marveled of but never to compare too. They have genetics in their favor. They have stuck to the plan and goal at hand and never gave up the lifestyle out of moments of emotional fatigue. These gentlemen will tell you that it wasn't always pleasantries, stares and respect. It was bad beard days. It was frustration in the growth. It may look easy on the outside looking in. It looks as if they grew the beard overnight but that isn't the fact at all. Scientifically genetics plays a big part in speed and fullness but it’s not as rapid as one may think. We must put the ideals of romanticized comparisons under our foot and soldier on. Nothing worth having is an easy route but it is rewarding.

     One of the above co-factors in beard growth is diet. One needs to maintain a protein heavy diet in order to sustain and feed not just your beard but your body; as a man we crave (rightfully so) protein. Whether that be in supplement form via whey protein or chicken/steak. One way to give your follicles a double whammy would be to increase fish intake because fish oils possess high Omega-3’s which again promote skin/hair health. Incorporating vitamins A, C, E, Biotin and Zinc would only help in this beard journey. To piggy back nutrition and diet would be to minimize stress which sounds and looks good on paper but is easier said than done for a lot of us. We see these words of advice but don’t know how to implement but stress is the number one contributing factor to hair-loss in men and can reverse any forward momentum one has achieved thus far. Some key techniques in dealing with stress—-Lead an active lifestyle—It not only helps with stress levels but it increases endorphin which gives you a new lease on life and a clear head to tackle life.-Find a spiritual outlet of sorts—Go to church, be around a community of like-minded, go out for a beer/coffee and deep conversation with friends. Find that deeper level of connection with God and with others.-Find an artistic outlet—Whether you write, draw, paint, make music, woodwork or other talents; do them! Whatever it is you must do the things that make you feel truly alive. Things fall into perspective when you are doing what you are truly gifted with. Sleep deprivation is not always a solo contributor to beard health but most likely the straw that broke the camel’s back. Lack of sleep will most likely be the last element of stress that one recognizes. We must be aware of our sleeping habits and even if we have inconsistent schedules we should have somewhat consistent sleep schedules which will ultimately make our lives fruitful and beards most bodacious. The next element to optimal facial hair is grooming. To properly use beard shampoo/conditioner, beard oil and specialty beard combs are crucial. It’s really not enough to just use generic shampoo and nonspecific oils in one beard and if someone says otherwise hasn't tried proper products. You have to beproactive in using the best ingredients in pursuit of beard health. Seek a product that suits your lifestyle and lean-to’s. I have tried many products in this journey but now know properly which ones to use and which ones were disappointments. You must figure this out as well but it’s worth the trials and errors. I personally apply oil twice a day to maintain control of my beard; some may not need to do this but it surely cannot hurt.

     I’m not one to brag but I have finally reached a zenith in my beard growth between ‘oh, hey there is a beard’ to ‘that is a good looking beard’. When I meet another bearded gent we head nod in proper tribute and continue on. Sometimes it strikes up a conversation worth having. It conjures bonds almost instantaneously. It has gotten me acknowledgement from extremely beautiful (inside and out) females, brief moments of comradery and (for the first time) a drive by compliment from inside a moving car in downtown Seattle. It makes me feel good and I must carry these moments as gold for when I feel as if my beard isn’t growing as fast as I’d like. It’s a reminder of how life is…growth and forward movement is taking place even when we can’t see it. It’s remarkable. White knuckle hold onto these times, my friends.Regardless of where you are in this journey (life or beard…to me they are one in the same) we must press past resistance. Keep upward eyes and trudge through the upward hills in order to get a glance of the view at the top. It’s beautiful; let’s stay a while

Stephen's First WM Blog

  written by: Stephen A. Dunegan      

     For as long as I can remember I have been drawn to local or independent shops/companies. Regardless of what many think it’s not so I can maintain an elitist status where I’m one step ahead the curve of cool; which admittedly is pretty awesome and a mantle in which I will bear with pride. The fact of why I have a posture that leans towards such an environment is multi-fold. One of those reasons is because “big business” is a relatively recent term. If we were to turn back the hands of the clock we would see that some our grandparents and most certainly our great-grandparents were not accustomed to such a term. Most of the items they purchased were done so through local mercantile and/or drug stores (keep in mind that not all small businesses stay small such as Walgreens, Starbucks, Apple and so on). So to support a local coffee shop, a handcrafted furniture company, a fashionable Oregon clothing store or in this case a desert based men’s grooming company is to regain some sort of ties to our ancestry. It’s to familiarize ourselves once more with supporting the community in which we live and used to live. To build and strengthen the ties of community and craftsmanship is an unheralded pursuit of the intangible. That intangible being the inevitable widening of not only a client base but a communal base.

     The second reason is to understand the origins of the product. How many of us can truly say we know the exact origins of the coffee or tea we are sipping? If I’m to be quite honest currently I’m sipping a tea I’m unsure of its quality and ethics. 95% of the time this is very important to me and I seek it but it’s not always possible for various cofactors. A little background on me I’m originally from Mesa, AZ thus my ties with my good friends at Westward Men Grooming Co. but in June of last year after a few months being hospitalized I decided it was time to set my sails to Portland, OR. I had always wanted to live in the PNW and the opportunity presented itself and suddenly I’m immersed in a city not only beautiful and “weird”(which if weird means friendly and welcoming then we can go ahead and label me weird as well) but also sustained by supporting one another. Even in the desert there is a growing since of supporting locally with the knowledge being presented in the importance of doing so. I can name a multitude of restaurants, coffee shops and shops that rely on this principle. The coffee shops I have visited since my stint in the Pacific Northwest is easily 15-20. Each one unique in personality and aesthetics and each one sustained by the unwritten mantra to support locally. Every time I set foot in these shops I got a story. I got a story of not only the worker but the beans, roasting practices, origins and the ethics to which the beans were delivered to the shop. All of this information was readily available and eagerly provided by someone that not only mastered their job but was excited and passionate about it. Now, I know that being “passionate about work” sounds corny and generalized but it’s very infectious and makes for a memorable time in that establishment.

     The third reason is what a small or local business brings to not only a community but even to a larger scale environment. According to Forbes the Small Business Administration identified that there are more than 28.2 million businesses operating as of March 2014 and a whopping 63% of new jobs were created from small businesses from 1993-2014. What a staggering statistic from a monetary standpoint! While most think that going to a smaller company would equate in paying a higher price often overlook various attributes. Most prices are standardized by vendors and not by retailers or small businesses. Let’s just say that even if the margin of payment is higher for going to a smaller company you would have to account for the customer care being more intimate, the inventory being catered to the customer or clientele base, the quality of the product is almost guaranteed due to the pride of craftsmanship the proprietor, owner or employees have over their offerings and the community support coming in and out is a constant filling and refilling process. It’s in turn a fulfilling feeling to be a part of this process even as a consumer.

     On a personal note I feel it’s very crucial to pour into a business where their mantra is transparent and who takes pride in their product or services. There is something to be said about holding an item in your hands and let it tell you it’s story. I believe strongly in craftsmanship and the pride of the artist behind it. Go ahead and grab your favorite book or laptop, throw it into your leather bag, lace up those shoes, apply Westward Men beard oil and head on over to your local coffee spot and feel good doing so. This is the beauty of community and that reciprocal feeling you get for supporting is just one of few rewards.