Beard Spotlight

Eric Jones

Meet Eric Jones, a recent University of Arkansas graduate and Founder/CEO of the custom men's shoe brand  Like Father Like Son (LFLS). Getting his company up and running hasn't been easy (building an empire from the ground up never is). In fact, what he has had to endure while making his dreams a reality might tear you up and inspire one to go for what it is you really want to do and be in life no matter what. During his college days, Eric mentioned to his mom how he wanted to start his own shoe company and be able to provide a better life for his children than either one of them had.  

As one can imagine, the cost of starting a custom shoe company was very expensive; couple that with school and day to day life expenses, Eric would need an investor. Seeing how dedicated to making this happen, his mom would make the necessary sacrifices, making a way just to see her son's dream come true. But in 2016, just 3 weeks shy of his college graduation, Eric's mother would unexpectedly pass away do an unforeseen illness. He would go on to graduate December 2016, and in March this year Eric sold his first pair of LFLS shoes.  We caught up with this young man in the mist of his journey. One of his biggest goals is to take his designer shoe company global, aspiring to be one of the biggest names in men's high end retailers worldwide. Eric has found ways to allow his life circumstances to motivate him to go harder than ever before. When you look good you feel good, and boy if you have on a fresh pair of shoes, the air of confidence you walk with is different. Young Eric is connecting and finding his tribe through the love of his footwear. With hard soles, his designs are suave and masculine, with a flair of personality and quality to match. Take a look for yourself by visiting the website and get to know the self proclaimed Melanated Louboutin a little more below. 

If it wasn’t for her, there is no way that I would have received my first order of shoes 4 months ago. Going through this and still living life the way I am now has motivated people around the country. I truly do this with all dedication to my mother, to inspire people around the world, and to have something positive to pass down to my kids.
— Eric Jones
LFLS+WEB+BROWN+LEATHER+.jpg

BMWB: Why did you decide to let your beard grow?

Eric: I decided to let it grow because it's actually red, hahaha!  I also knew that I would be bald so I decided to stick with the bald and bearded look.

BMWB: What is your beard care regime?

 Eric: I want to start trying some products that I see black owned beard brands offering. But right now, I use organic unrefined coconut oil on it.

BMWB: What are your hobbies?

Eric: My hobbies include networking, exercising, styling, traveling and WORKING.

BMWB: Are there any organizations you are a part of?

Eric: I'm a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. 

BMWB: What does the beard mean to you?

Eric: The beard is just like an accessory to me. Some people like them and some don't. You wear it, if you like the way you look and feel with it, you remove it if you don't think it fits you. It's been a buzz in the media that beards can sometimes be the deciding factor in whether we're a perfect 10 or a sad 5 to some women, hahaha. 

BMWB: What are you most proud of?

Eric: I'm most proud of the man that I've been molded into because of my upbringing and the things that I've been through in my life.

BMWB: What do you feel about the social climate of black men in America?

Eric: Black Men in America aren't at the best right now. A lot of young African Americans are in the streets and doing so many negative things. The media makes it even worse with promoting only the negative things about us. We need change. I'm striving to be the catalyst of change in the culture.

BWMB: What do you feel is your greatest strength?

Eric: My greatest strength is my ability to communicate with other people. It's not always about what you know but mostly who you know.

BMWB: Tell us the top 5 things on your bucket list?

Eric

  1. Expand my company tremendously 
  2. Travel the country to share my story with youth
  3. Offer scholarships to aspiring young entrepreneurs 
  4. Be a guest on the Steve Harvey show
  5. Make The Shade Room to spread some positivity trough the media

Keith Jacobs

I’m just a soul who’s intentions are good
— Keith Jacobs

Meet Keith Jacobs, the music artist from Houston, TX with a melodic voice that is as sensual as the things he sings about. His music and style are as vibrant and ambitious as he, and to hear he once considered stepping away from music makes us all the more excited that didn't. Keith has allowed life to inspire him to create again. A month into his latest release, an EP entitled "Still Tippin" (which we think is a cool homage to H Town) is a good way to let the people know he ain't go nowhere!

No stranger to love, Keith Jacobs often finds himself as the muse in which his lyrics flow, embodying the good and bad experiences of his life. He’s transparently honest and true to his music. It doesn’t come as a surprise that by sharing his art with the world, he wants us to not be afraid of being transparent in our relationships.
— ©thisiskeithjacobs.com

 We caught up with Keith after having him ride with us during our All White Flight Bike Ride during Essence Fest weekend. Lets get to know him a little more.

BMWB:  Why did you decide to your beard grow?

Keith:  At the core, I just got tired of messing up my mustache lol.  I was the absolute worst when it came to edging and trimming my face. Started growing my beard, found my tempo and the rest is history.

BMWB:  What is your beard care regime? 

Keith:  My beard regime is pretty intense.  Along my beard journey I've learned what does and does not work for me.  Also, I workout daily and I sweat a lot so its really crucial that I groom my beard properly. Check it out: I wash at least twice daily with Shea Moisture Beard Wash. I co-wash twice a week with "As I Am" Coconut Co-wash. BRUSH daily, this is most important. Daily grooming includes "As I Am" Coco Shea Spray. It's very light and keeps my beard moisturized throughout the day. 

BMWB:  What are your hobbies?

Keith:  My hobbies include traveling, biking, boxing, and spending time with family.

BMWB:  Are there any organizations you belong to?

Keith:  June 27th Recordings, LD Unlimited and the N8 Group.

BMWB:  What does the beard mean to you?

Keith:  One word: PATIENCE 

BMWB:  Tell us a bit about yourself.

Keith:  I'm just a soul whose intentions are good. At the core I'm an artist, sensitive about my ish.  I've been doing music for as long as I can remember, tried to shake it but for some reason, she just kept coming back.

BMWB:  What are you most proud of?

Keith:  My family-Jenny Laine, Kaileigh Lane, and Lennox Laine. They are a constant reminder that dreams do come and for that I'm forever grateful.

BMWB:  What do you feel about the social climate of black men in America?

Keith:  We are living in some crazy times. On the contrary, as black men in America we have a moral responsibility to change our environment. We do this daily, by focusing our conversations and dialogues on the positive things that are happening in our communities and not just what the media chooses to show us.

BMWB:  What do you feel is your greatest strength?

Keith:  Knowing that I can't do this by myself.

BMWB:  Tell us the top 5 things on your bucket list

Keith: 

  1. Live 
  2. Love
  3. Embrace
  4. Repeat
  5. Be featured on Black Men With Beards (check mark LOL)

Conroy Blake

Meet Conroy Blake, serial entrepreneur and owner of New Orleans latest culinary flair 14 Parishes. Born in Spanish town, Jamaica and having just moved to the city just over a year ago, Conroy is already making an impact. One of the city's best places to eat, Conroy also offers his expertise and advice to young black entrepreneurs in NOLA. 14 Parishes has some of the best jerk chicken in the Creole Rich City as well as a new venue space for events that attracts different demographics.

BMWB:  Why did you decided to let the beard grow?

Conroy: I have always had a goatee, but about 3 years ago I wanted to see what I would look like with a full beard. I let it grow in and have not shaved it since. 

BMWB:  What is your beard care regime?

Conroy: None really! It's mostly natural. I have never had to do much as I always had a full beard. I comb it daily, and lately I started to shave my head which has cause me to focus more on the only place I seem to grow hair and enjoy it. I trim my beard once a week and line it.  I don't like my beard to be bushy, so I put a bit of grooming time in to making sure it's always 100.

BMWB: What are your hobbies?

Conroy: I love to create with my hands or repair. To see something broken and to be able to use my hands to bring it back to life brings me a level of completeness words can't explain.  I love the rumble of a well tune car and the speed of it. "I LOVE CARS!"

There is not enough of us doing our part to be business owners, property owners- and we have to change that.
— Conroy Blake

BMWB:  What organizations are you a part of?

Conroy: Reach Out NOLA and Free Verse are both very dear to me.  I remember when I first started out as a young entrepreneur. I didn't have a lot of options to achieve the goals set and I remember thinking that I should just quit or give up. But for me, quitting was not even an option. Jamaica is a tough place and Jamaicans are very strong and prideful people, with a strong focus on only survival. So I push on and I created "Free Verse," which is a platform for young entrepreneurs to come and get resources, information and guidance on their next step. After moving to New Orleans a year ago, I met these two amazing young ladies with Reach Out NOLA. The have similar desires to help our community. I've also partnered up with them and we have been working with to help guide more or our young black youth to becoming strong well rounded entrepreneurs. 

BMWB: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Conroy: I am a simple person, very down to earth and open. I don't require much nor do I want for much besides good health, happiness, and security. My need to be a better father to my kids, a better man, and a better leader are some of the things that drive me forward daily. 

BMWB: What are you most proud of?

Conroy:  I am most proud of my two boys and my baby girl.

BMWB: What do you feel about the social climate of black men in America?

Conroy:  We don't own enough. We have been programmed by our parents and grandparents to be good workers but not owners. There is not enough of us doing our part to be business owners, property owners - and we have to change that. It's a must.

BMWB: What is your greatest strength?

Conroy: My ability to never accept failure.

BMWB: Tell us your top 5 things on your bucket list

Conroy:  

  1. Help my kids achieve their goals
  2. Take a trip around the world
  3. Buy an old fire house
  4. Be able to one day give my mom and pops a trip around the world
  5.  I would like to build a small community of container homes
  6. I know you said 5 BUT I have to add buying a black Porsche (side bucket list LOL) 

Anttwon Thames

I am a culture
— Anonymous Culture

Meet Anttwon Thames, better known as Anonymous Culture, an American music artist and full time rapper from Pleasant Grove (Dallas), TX. Thames has had such a colorful and successful career thus far, and what stands out the most besides the relentless talent, is his signature style and look. From the unique haircuts to the beard to rocking a well tailored suit while spitting the hottest 16, Anttwon Thames is the perfect blend of hip hop and gentleman. His eagerness to achieve beyond his wildest dreams while being a positive role model for black boys and men across the country is admirable. A consistent blue print for the things an independent successful grind can do for you as a rapper when you are true to yourself, your brand and music, Anonymous Culture has broken the mold and is leading the way in showing our youth they can do great and amazing things. With his "I Am A Culture" brand, he empowers both youth and adults to embrace their individuality. Still on a high from the recent release of his latest project "The Annexation of Puerto Rico" and just days away from finding out what will baby #3 be (we're super excited for him and his wife), we were able to chop it up with the the Greedy Groove lyric slayer, and got to know him a little better. Check out what he has to say below. 

BMWB: Why did you decide to let the beard grow?

 © Black Men With Beards

© Black Men With Beards

Anonymous Culture: I wanted to look older. I look very young for my age without it.

BMWB: What is your beard care regime?

Anonymous Culture: Honestly, I don't have one. God made me this way. I get my haircut and beard trimmed once a week. The barber shapes it up for me but no "regime".

BMWB: What are your hobbies?

Anonymous Culture:  Making music, playing Madden, being a dad and husband. I also enjoy spending time with my dogs, working them out or just playing around with them. 

BMWB: What organizations are you a part of?

Anonymous Culture: I am the music artist" Anonymous Culture" and owner of the brand "I Am A Culture."

I’ve changed the story of the stereotype
— Anonymous Culture

BMWB: Well Mr. Thames, tell us what does the beard mean to you?

Anonymous Culture: At this point, it means a lot to me. It's just as important as the haircut I wear. Actually it's become the cut itself. I don't feel complete if it (my beard) isn't right.

BMWB: So Anonymous, tell us a bit about yourself.

Anonymous Culture: I'm 5'7, brown eyes, black hair!!! Hahahahaha, no seriously, I'm a clown. I love to prank and play jokes on my close friends and love ones. I'm not very open to new people, but love making people happy. Weird right? I may be one of the last ones to love, LOVE! I love love and everything about it. 

BMWB: What are you most proud of?

Anonymous Culture: I'm most proud of myself. The fact that what I've come from and where I am and the visions to where I want to be...I've changed the story to the stereotype!

BMWB: What do you feel about the social climate of black men in America?

Anonymous Culture: I believe we are now in a transition for the greater good. I'm noticing the effects of what's going on in the world actually making a lot of our black men better men, fathers, and people.

 © D. Lacy Photography 

© D. Lacy Photography 

BMWB: What are your greatest strengths?

Anonymous Culture: My greatest strength is having and keeping a glass half full mentality in life. With many curve balls thrown my way, sometimes it's easy to get down on yourself and become stressed out. One thing about me, I stay positive through it all.

BMWB: Tell us the top 5 things on your bucket list

Anonymous Culture

  1. Buy a house with a moat
  2. Sell out American Airlines Center (Dallas)
  3. Visit EVERY country 
  4. Own a building on the Dallas "Skyline"
  5. Purchase the city of Honey Grove, TX and give it to my granny for all she's endured there! 

Do yourselves a favor and press play on the video below, check out Anonymous Culture doing what he does best...

Anonymous Culture

"Go Getta"

The Annexation of Puerto Rico Album Available Now!

Video by Jeff Adair Films Video Production Co

www.AnonymousCulture.com

www.iAmaCulture.com 

K.G. Graham

Being black in America is a full time job.
— K.G. Graham

Meet K.G. Graham, the Panamanian BK Texan (yes you read that right) who's brought immense light to just how powerful the right COSIGN can be for one's career and life for that matter. What he has done with his publication and media company over the last 5 years is nothing short of the by product of hard work and dedication to a solid vision.  As the founder and creative director of COSIGN Magazine and COSIGN Media Group, K.G. has created a bar and consistently raised it with each new publication release and with every dope curated fashion forward event.  With "The COSIGN Experience," an annual fundraising event produced by COSIGN Magazine and COSIGN Media to celebrate the publications anniversary happening in just a couple of months, we're excited to shine some light on K.G. at this time. Nice beard for someone who says they're fairly new to the beard game. Get to know Mr. COSIGN a little better below. 

BMWB:  Why did you decide to let the beard grow?

K.G.:  I decided to let my beard grow because I wanted to try something different.  When I first started growing facial hair I always had the thin chin strap but I looked like everyone else.  When I spent those two years in Afghanistan I really got to see some of the most amazing beards from the locals to the Navy Seals who grew their beards out for missions.  I noticed they stood out, and I wanted to try that one day.  Now that I'm a little older I decided why not.

BMWB:  What is your beard care regime?

K.G.:  My beard regime is pretty simple.  I shampoo and condition it 2-3 times a week and make sure to apply coconut oil to it.  I'm pretty new to the beard game, but once I figure out the best regime for me, I'm coming for the elite beards, lol. 

BMWB:  What are your hobbies?

K.G.:  I truly enjoy playing basketball, working out, reading, and learning new things.

BMWB:  Are there any organizations you belong to?

K.G.:  I am the Founder of and Creative Director of COSIGN Magazine and COSIGN Media Group

BMWB:  Well K.G. we'd all like to know, what does the beard mean to you?

K.G.:  The beard means strength and confidence to me.  Most people who have beards are confident and strong people.  They say strength is in your hair. Mines will be my facial hair.

BMWB:  Tell us a bit about yourself.

K.G.:  Growing up with Panamanian parent help shape my work ethic.  I'm overly ambitious because they truly instilled the belief in me that if I want something, work for it and it will be yours.  I also grew up a military brat so I've lived all over the U.S.  In 2009 I took a contracting job working in Afghanistan. I spent two years of my life overseas between Afghanistan and Dubai.  Those two years help sap me to become the man I am today. 

Creating a company is cool, raising a daughter is monumental!
— K.G. Graham

BMWB:  What are you most proud of?

K.G.:  I'm most proud of my daughter.  She's nine years old and recently became student of the month at her elementary school and the MVP of her volleyball team.  She's been through a lot in her nine years of existence and and she has the best attitude, she genuinely loves people, and she motivates me to be the best person I can be.  Creating a company is cool, raising a daughter is monumental!

BMWB:  What do you feel about the social climate of Black Men in America?

K.G.:  I feel two ways about the social climate of black men in America.  One, its the perfect time to be black in America because we create whats cool.  We are pop culture.  Companies are targeting their marketing campaigns to our demographic.  We have the power to influence.  Then two, it's difficult because racism, still exists. prime example our President and the fact that black men are still getting murdered by cops who are suppose to serve and protect.  Being black in America is a full time job.

BMWB:  What do you feel is your greatest strength?

K.G.:  My greatest strength is the support of my team, family, and friends. Without them I wouldn't be able to operate in in the capacity that I do.  They help me with ideas, concepts, and execution. Without them, I am nothing.

BMWB:  Tell us the top 5 things on your bucket list 

K.G.

  1.  Travel the world the entire year
  2.  Go skydiving 
  3.  Document a road trip from L.A. to Brooklyn
  4.  See the pyramids 
  5.  Buy land in my native country Panama 

Be sure to check out whats the latest in music, entertainment and fashion to get that COSIGN by checking out the official website www.cosignmag.com.  Follow K.G.'s pictorial moves on Instagram and grab you a ticket or two two the COSIGN Experience, happening this summer in Dallas, TX  July 13 through the 16 2017. 

Erik Blaylock

“The beard means freedom of expression to me especially as a black man in a more corporate environment, its my way of expressing myself without saying a word.”
- Erik Blaylock

Meet Erick Blaylock, the architectural project manager by day hip hop MC by night from Houston whose creative skills with a pen and a pad are evident in more ways than one. A graduate of Prairie View A&M University with a degree in architecture, Erik says being able to study architecture at a predominantly black university only enhanced his love for the study of it. Being that this industry overall reflects the opposite in terms of diversity and minority involvement, Erik takes great pride in his profession. With aspirations of becoming one of very few black licensed and registered architect. We caught up with Erik to get a bit more insight into the mind and the beard.

BMWB:  Erik, what is it about architecture that you love?

Erik:  I fell in love with architecture as a kid and what I loved most was the balance of the artistic and concrete ideals. I'd say that every architect is an artist but not every artist is an architect. I love the fact that when you step inside of a building, you are experiencing the goals and vision of that designer as well as the oneness of the architecture with nature. I'm fascinated by building compositions and the process of going from paper to a real live constructed building that started with a creative thought. 

BMWB:  Why did you decide to let your beard grow?

Erik:  I decided to let my beard grow because of how frequent my facial hair grows. As weird as it may sound, it's easier for me to maintain a beard than not.  I also liked the fullness and how it helps define my face, plus the uniqueness because not everyone can grow a full beard.

BMWB:  What is your beard care regime?

Erik:  I use pure virgin olive oil as a moisturizer so that it doesn't get too dry or Kiehl's Beard Grooming oil as a softener.  I feel as though the beard and face are compliments of each other so I use Kiehl's Facial Fuel Energizing face wash, Calendula Deep cleansing face wash as well as their ultra face cream to balance the look of the facial skin with the beard. 

BMWB:  What are your hobbies?

Erik:  I like reading books and listening to records. I also like to watch sports and work out.

BMWB: Are there any organizations you're a part of? 

Erik: I'm part of a hip hop/soul collective called The Hue. You can find us here.

BMWB:  Well Erik, tell us what exactly does the beard mean to you?

Erik:  The beard means freedom of expression to me, especially as a black man in a more corporate environment. It's my way of expressing myself without saying a word. It also means business - there is a sense of seriousness that comes with wearing a full beard whether intentional or not. 

In short, the climate for black men in America is as it always was, maybe not in your face as the past but there are certain subtleties that remind us that no matter the socioeconomic status, you are still a black man in an America that at one point considered you 3/5ths of  a man.
- Erik Blaylock

BMWB:  Tell us a bit about Erik the MC aka Equality?

Erik:  Aside from working in architecture as a Project Manager, I am also in a hip-hop/soul group known as The Hue, based out of Houston, TX.  There is a balance or walking a fine line between both professions. In the group I'm one of the MC's along with another dope MC by the name of Savvi, and a sensational vocalist named Alycia Miles aka Venus Fly.  As an MC my job to find the most creative way to express feelings or ideas and thoughts aren't necessarily new but said in a new way or a way that makes the listener say "I never thought about it like that ."  Our goal is to offer growth and maturity with each musical project because people naturally grow and so the music should reflect that as well.  We don't stay in one grade, we graduate, we get older, we have more life experiences to expound on. 

BMWB: We love the way you broke that down and can see your creative and professional skills have found a way to fuse together. 

Erik: Yea, as for ME as an MC, especially coming from Houston or as we call is HUESTON, I want to show a balance that takes me out of the stereotypical box that some associate our sound and lyrical topics but still keep a solid foundation rooted in my city, just told from a different prospective.  We are currently working on a new project but until then you can find us at www.thehuelife.com

BMWB:  What re you thoughts on the social climate of Black Men In America?

Erik:  This is a tough one. Black men are not a monolith so the climate may vary depending on the perspective, but I do know that history teaches us not to take the Westernized ideals about us for granted. Since entering America, the climate for black men has been based off reinforced stereotypes because of westernized inferiority complexes. America was not designed for us, so we have had to adapt and push forward. In short, the climate for black men in America is as it always was, maybe not in your face as the past but there are certain subtleties that remind us that no matter the socioeconomic status, you are still a black man in an America that at one point considered you 3/5ths of a man. But as the ancestors did before us, we persevere in spite of to ensure the climate is better for the next generation.

BMWB:  What are you most proud of?

Erik:  It would have to be graduating from college. I was the first in my immediate family to do so. 

BMWB:  What is your greatest strength?

Erik:  My creative imagination, I feel creativity is something that never gets old and whatever you imagine you can achieve. 

BMWB:  Tell the top 5 things on your bucket list

Erik:  

  1. Travel more places outside of the country 
  2. Get my architectural license 
  3. Design my own home
  4. Own more property 
  5. Go back and teach architecture at my Alma Mater ( PVU)

Photos provided by Rare Sighting Photography