GENEVA — Will Hanvey and Dustin Bovard work the B-shift in campus safety at Hobart and William Colleges. They like their jobs, but as young fathers, it’s not the most family-friendly career.
The best friends, who worked at Hillside Children’s Center in Varick before coming over to HWS, said it could be years before they score a day shift at HWS.
“We both were talking about how we want to change the cards for our family,” Bovard said.
Their answer: Start their own business.
“Both of us have always had the business mindset,” Hanvey remarked.
And, when it came to what kind of business they should start, the answer was right in front of their faces — well, it was actually on their faces.
They decided to create and sell beard-grooming products.
Finger Lakes Beard Bros was born.
To Hanvey and Bovard, the business idea was a natural. Both have had beards for years, and both used oils and balms to improve the look and feel of their facial hair. Their goal was to make products that not only helped men maintain a good beard, but were affordable as well.
Bovard said the business partners took to YouTube to devise their own formulas for making beard oil and balm.
“We didn’t take any one idea,” said Bovard, who does more of the work of making the oil and balms, while Hanvey concentrates more on the marketing end.
Both the oils and the balm keep the beard in better control and take away the annoying itching that can come with beards, they agreed. However, the oil and balm are not designed to help people attain a Billy Gibbons-length beard, Bovard emphasized.
“We’re not in the business of making your beard grow,” Bovard said. “We’re interested in the business of making your beard healthy.”
Still, he said, “a healthy beard grows better than a dry beard.”
Each of them sports a pretty healthy one themselves, and while some law enforcement agencies prohibit facial hair, HWS is fine with it so long as it’s well-groomed, they said.
The pair have been hawking their products online and at festivals and farm markets, including the Geneva Farmers Market on Saturdays at Lakefront Park.
While they have only been selling their products for a few months, Finger Lakes Beard Bros said they already have a substantial customer base, with orders from all over the country.
“It’s crazy where it’s gone,” said Bovard. “We’re doing pretty well.”
Their products also can be purchased locally at Demarco & Buckley Barber Shop in Clifton Springs, Red Jacket Orchards on Routes 5&20, and LuAnn’s Hair Salon and Day Spa in Waterloo.
Count John Mesmer of Geneva among Finger Lakes Beard Bros’ satisfied customers.
“I have used just about every product for my beard — from oils, balms, conditioners and fancy brushes — but have never been satisfied with how my beard would look using all of those things,” he wrote by email. “Finger Lakes Beard Bros had me skeptical, since nothing else really made a difference. But to help a local product, I took a chance and bought some of their oil and balm and so glad I did. Within the first few days of trying their product I saw a difference immediately. My beard became healthy looking, soft and manageable — something I never had before with all the other products I tried.”
Bovard and Hanvey have a snazzy logo that’s used not only on the oil and balm containers, but on Finger Lakes Beard Bros swag that includes combs, hats, T-shirts and decals. Both of them consider their well-groomed beards part of their marketing.
“We don’t leave the house without our beards being en pointe,” Bovard said.
“You get a lot more comments with a longer beard,” added Hanvey, who is getting his bachelor’s degree in business from SUNY Empire in December.
The pair recommend daily use for best results. The oil and balm should be applied in the morning, with another oil application at night, they said.
“If I miss a day or two, I just start itching at the corner of my jaw, and my beard starts to poof up,” Hanvey noted.
The oil and balm come in four scents: Apple Sin, Rainy Day, Pathways and Sexy Mountain Man.
Hanvey and Bovard said many guys sport beards only in the colder months, but their goal is to encourage them to keep their facial hair all year long.
Besides balms and lotions, the secret to a well-groomed beard is to trim each side, Hanvey explained.
The pair said their wives have not only been supportive of their business venture but have helped them sell on occasion. Coincidentally, both spouses are named Ashley.
Bovard has three children, Noah, Julianna and Lucas, while Hanvey has two, Avery and Kendall. Both say that they don’t want to miss the big stuff in their children’s lives, and are hoping to turn their fledgling beard-products business into a full-time occupation some day.
“We’re not trying to get rich,” Bovard said. “We’re trying to have every man in the Finger Lakes reach his full-bearded dreams.”