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.
-Nick Karnaze, Founder