When a product comes along that is so unique, so one-of-a-kind, so different than the rest of the products out there, it needs to be researched. Beardski is one of those products. Competing with the viral "BeardHead" brand of crocheted face masks, Beardski brings a new option to the table for those who like hats that also look like beards, along with several different prints and colors. At the SIA Snow Show this weekend, we caught up with Beardski's Michael Hasbany to talk about this fascinating phenomenon.
(Drew Hamilton - left, Michael Hasbany - right) Before...
Photo Britt Chester
Westword: Explain to me the birth of the "Beardski." Michael Hasbany: Drew here got six of us together in sort of an "invention group." I run sales for a high-tech company in Texas, one of us is an intellectual property lawyer, another is a corporate lawyer, one has a design/marketing firm and the other is an online furniture retailer. We're always coming up with ideas and trying to patent them, so we got together to come up with an idea and see what we can do with our collective knowledge. I was sitting at the Rose Bowl last year and this idea just hit me. I don't know why, but I just said, "you know what would be a cool idea? A face mask with a beard on it." So I pitched it to the guys and we just took off with it. That was in May of last year. This year's SIA is pretty much the debut, the premier, of the Beardski.
WW: Are you guys skiers? MH: You know, no. I probably ski once a year, but a couple of the guys involved are avid skiers.
WW: Where is Beardski based? Drew Hamilton: My line is, "based in the ski capital of the world, Dallas, Texas."
WW: Ah yes, where all the big resorts are. What kind of price point can consumers expect? MH: The price range is between $31-$40, depending on retailer mark-ups.
Photo Britt Chester
WW: Are the Beardskis made domestically, or are they outsourced? MH: We actually had these made in Asia. The raw materials are a synthetic that you can't produce here in America. So we'd have to ship the quota here, then ship it back for manufacturing, and that doesn't really make much sense. But we wanted to make sure we made something high-quality, because there are so many generic masks in the market place. If we didn't make it with such a high quality fleece, line it with neoprene and embroider the back of it, it would be like everything else. If we didn't put details to it, it wouldn't meet the consumer demand. This is why it commands a little bit steeper cost to the consumer, but we didn't want anything like what everyone is putting out there.
WW: What's next for Beardski? MH:I don't want to give out any secrets or anything, but we have already tapped into the Harley Davidson market. Along those lines, we have a lot of markets to tap.
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WW: Is there any one beard in particular that inspires this? MH: Well, this is actually just one cut. I don't know why people always say ZZ-Top; his is a lot longer than this one. We also have over twenty different cuts. The cool thing is that it has an international draw already. We had an article come out in a few publications that people have seen, so we have distribution in the U.K., France, Japan and Czechoslovakia, of all places. Beards transcend any other kind of fashion you'd see normally, so they never go out of style.
WW: What about Beardski has been the most startling find? MH: You know, I'm really surprised that the brand name wasn't taken. That was surprising to us, because it's such a great name.
WW: Do you use it? MH: I haven't had the chance to use it yet, but three of the other guys have.