Born in combat, made in America.
I will never forget the day I received the phone call. A good friend and fellow Marine was on the other end. He called to see if I had heard the news. I hadn't. He then uttered the words that forever changed my life: “Justin is dead.”
Justin Hansen and I served together in the same Marine Corps special operations unit. We were bunkmates during Assessment & Selection and spent countless hours together during workups and deployment. Justin was an extraordinarily talented individual — the type of person who bettered everyone around him. I was no exception.
On July 24th, 2012, Justin was killed while conducting combat operations in Northwest Afghanistan. I don’t remember much of the phone call, but I do remember staring at my phone after receiving the news, watching my tears hit the blank screen. I was numb.
It’s common for members of the special operations community to grow beards while deployed. I knew that Justin had a substantial beard when he was shot. For whatever reason - I’ll call it a coping mechanism - I decided then and there that I would grow my beard out for Justin’s funeral.
As my beard grew I was quickly reminded of how itchy and abrasive facial hair can become. I couldn’t find any products I liked, so, I decided to make my own. I have fond memories of standing in my kitchen watching AMC’s Breaking Bad. Walt was making meth and I was making beard lotion.
By happenstance a few of my Navy SEAL buddies learned about what I was making. They asked for some product and that’s when I realized I could turn this homemade endeavor into a proper business. Word spread, interest grew, and stubble + ‘stache was born.
We donate a portion of profits to charities supporting our wounded heroes and their families, with particular interest in organizations combating post-traumatic stress, depression, and other mental wounds.
All of our products are proudly made in the U.S.A.
In honor of Justin. Semper Fidelis, brother.
-Nick Karnaze, Founder
I never imagined that I'd be in the men's grooming game. Granted I grew up around skincare products and as a child was the subject of my older sister's "makeovers" more times than I care to admit. So this space is very familiar. But starting a line? Nope.
Fortunately, my education at the United States Naval Academy included a substantial amount of chemistry. This served me well as I started creating concoctions in the kitchen following Justin's death.
Prior to starting stubble + 'stache, I served over seven years as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. First as an intelligence officer, then in 2007 joining the Corps' newly formed elite special operations unit: MARSOC aka the Marine Raiders. I was a member of the 2nd Raider Battalion until leaving the Marine Corps in late 2011.
I started stubble + 'stache in 2012 with no formal business training. In 2014 I was fortunate to attend the Stanford Ignite – Post-9/11 Veterans program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. There stubble + 'stache grew into the socially minded organization that it is today. I highly recommend this program to any veteran with the entrepreneurial bug.
Reducing the stigma around mental health is a passion of mine. I've lost far too many Marines to suicide. Having suffered from depression myself, I've testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs about mental health care access for veterans. It is important to realize that we are all fighting battles, and you shouldn't fight yours alone.
At stubble + 'stache our purpose is two-fold. First, we aim to make the best skincare and beard care products the world has ever known. Second, we provide much-needed financial support to pioneering nonprofits that are working tirelessly to help our wounded heroes. Specifically, we focus on innovative charities helping those suffering from the mental wounds of combat. To do this, we donate five percent of our net profits to these life-changing organizations. Currently we support the Marine Raider Foundation. We'll be adding to this list as we grow.
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, the Marine Raider Foundation provides benevolent support to the U. S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). The Foundation supports active duty and medically retired MARSOC personnel and their families, as well as the families of Marines who have lost their lives in service to our Nation. The Marine Raider Foundation services are those unmet by the government or other organizations. For more information click here
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