How a Barrie entrepreneur pivoted to grow his beard business during a pandemic

"Business has increased about 500 per cent since we introduced the Beard Tarp™"

Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially devastating for our local business community, but among that desolation is the creation of some pretty impressive ingenuity.

While some businesses were quick to pivot and develop new products and new ways to deliver those products. Others were already in the clouds, operating predominately online and ready for what was soon to be a gigantic shift in consumerism. Consumers, told to stay home, flocked online. When that happened, Sven Hansen’s business was somewhere in between.

Hansen is the beard behind Always Bearded Lifestyle in Barrie and his business has grown five-fold over the past year.

“We were in 400 retail locations when the pandemic hit so that was probably our largest motivating factor for developing the Beard Tarp,” said Hansen. “We were seeing a huge growth spurt before the pandemic hit and before we launched that product but things blew up after we did.”

Hansen says his business has increased about 500 per cent since he introduced the Beard Tarp to market, a mask designed specifically for beards.

Hansen came up with the product during the first wave of COVID-19 in Ontario. “We designed it when everything shut down, and we started marketing it online right away.”

Hansen had typically sold his beard grooming products in retail locations and marketed them in more traditional ways. “We immediately shifted everything to digital streams, that’s where we did all of our marketing and our product was then featured on local television stations in Toronto, soon after that, the first video we posted was viewed like a million times,” said Hansen.

The story of Always Bearded really began about seven years ago when Hansen ditched the clean-shaven corporate look and grew his beard out.

The Barrie entrepreneur, podcaster, and businessman quickly realized the beard game wasn’t so simple. It was flakey, itchy, and uncontrollable.

“The skin underneath my beard would become dry and flaky. I had this constant urge to shave it all off.”

He did some research and came to the conclusion that there was a need for beard grooming products.

“There was a resurgence of barbershops at the time and they were offering beard trims, however, I quickly realized they did not have beard grooming products nor did they understand why my beard was so uncomfortable.”

That’s how it began and now his company is set to build on the success of their trademark product with the next iteration of the face mask.

“The Beard Tarp V2 is an evolution of customer feedback and new mask recommendations from top health officials,” said Hansen. “With new variants emerging, showing to spread 50% faster, it was important we provided some reassurance to customers.”

Hansen partnered with a company out of the U.S. to manufacture filter material inserts “from patent-pending nanofiber technology” that he says is highly efficient.

“It’s up to 95% efficient at blocking sub-micron particles, including bacteria and viruses,” said Hansen.

He feels the “N95 equivalent” filter inserts, paired with a 3-layer cotton mask, will go a long way to helping his customers feel safe.

Hansen says the filters can also fit in previous versions as well.

Based on consumer feedback, Hansen designed the new Beard Tarp V2 with a completely interchangeable harness system.

“This way you can set up your Beard Tarp how you would like, and it’ll stretch back into place when you pull it down, and vice versa when you want to pull it back up quickly throughout your day. When not in use it’ll hang around your neck comfortably.”

Hansen says they design and manufacture most of their products right here in Ontario.

“I guess the revolution that we’re seeing right now is that a lot of people want to support local, and we are developing our products to reflect that.”