2017 World Beard and Mustache Championships

We are so excited to announce that we will be headed to Austin in September for the 2017 World Beard and Mustache Championships! We will be an official vendor and will be selling the MKE Beard Book! $5 from each bookn sale benefits No Shave November, a men's cancer research and prevention non profit organization.


The three-day competition will attract beard enthusiasts from around the world including more than 1,000 competitors and fans. Every two years, the WBMC showcases the very best in men’s and women’s whiskers. Projected to be the largest competition to date, the three-day event will include live entertainment, local food vendors, family friendly activities and dozens of facial hair competitions.

We've never been to Austin, so if you have any suggestions of places to check out while we are there, we'd love to hear from you!

How I Learned to Love the Beard by Jenna Kashou

 Photo by Jessica Kaminski 

Photo by Jessica Kaminski 

This week's blog post was written by Milwaukee Native and professional writer, Jenna Kashou.  She recently completed a six-month residency at the historic Pfister Hotel where she wrote about and photographed guests and events. You can check out her website at www.jennakashou.com, or see some of her work online at Milwaukee Magazine .




 Photo by Jessica Kaminski

Photo by Jessica Kaminski

I never cared for facial hair. In fact, I disliked the sensation of it on my face. But I’ve since learned to love the beard.

I now realize that it’s an indispensable extension of a man, like his nose, ears or mouth. Some may even call it a measure of his masculinity.

I am a sucker for a well groomed, robust beard. I still get scared away a bit by the beards that look like they are sheltering a small family of animals or warrant their own zip code. A beard that falls no more than an inch from the chin and protrudes a half an inch from the face is what I like to see.  But that’s not to say that the right man can’t rock a beard of any length, style or color, if it fits his persona. 

I learned to love the beard when I realized how it became part of a man’s identity. Let me back up, what really happened was I fell in love with a man named Ramsey and then fell in love his beard – his lumberjack, L.L. Bean, bountiful beard that shouts to the wind that the wilderness is no match for him. Until I met Ramsey, I didn’t know any other men who wore a beard so well or had such an iconic facial feature.

The color of the beard is almost as important as the length and texture. If the beard is a different color than a man’s hair, all thebetter. I have the pleasure of nuzzling up against a coppery red beard juxtaposed on an auburn head of curls. 

My husband obliges my newfound fixation with his beard daily. I find myself inspecting it and searching for variances in color, follicle length and pliability. I even concocted my own oil blend to assist him in keeping it soft and supple throughout the winter months. 

As we approach the depths of winter, I look forward to seeing those frosty-tipped beards on men all over Milwaukee.

Beards: A Celebration of Spirit - Interview with Sean Mizer

This week's blog post was written by Sean Mizer, one of the beadsmen who appears in the MKE Beard Book! I had an open beard photo call at my studio and Sean showed up and brought his A-Game. Sean owns a company called Studioworks which provides innovative solutions for experiential marketing, trade shows, exhibits, sculpture, and design. 

 Self Portrait by Sean Mizer

Self Portrait by Sean Mizer

As a boy I recall trying to grow up fast way too fast. There seemed an honor in it; at least I thought that’s what that was.

My beard has meant many different things, but at the end of the day it’s just a beard, not to be confused with the yielding heart within the person behind it.

Early on, my beard really pissed people off or just made them uncomfortable. My family and kids would badger me daily! “When you gonna shave?” “Why do you want to look like that?” “You know you look crazy!  “When you were a kid did you always want to look like a biker?” My reply? “Fuck yeah!” I could walk into some busy hipster coffee shop and part the people there like the Red Fuckin’ Sea. Haaaaaa! Man, if you are that uncomfortable with me, what does that say about you?

So, yes, the beard started as a shield, an extension of my attitude and my insecurity. It was a Fuck You. It was LEAVE ME ALONE. It was Don’t Fuck With Me. A good portion of my life was. I was on an island and I put myself there. I now know because of PTSD and a mood disorder, I was being hyper vigilant. Growing up, my life was about survival and I couldn’t navigate. So, [I created a] shield wall! I’m very good at surviving, maybe the best, and it comes with a growl. My defense became an offense. Hence, the shield and sword. Talking with friend awhile back she asked, “If you have a good shield can you put down the sword?” I’ve since learned and replied, “You don’t need either.”

A few years back I went back home for my best friend's funeral. It was a pivotal moment that opened the door to where I am now. It was a death of a king for me. I was seeing people I hadn’t seen in ages. We were a clan. As I flew to New Jersey from Milwaukee, the words brother and warrior would not leave my head. When I met up with another old friend at the funeral, he said, “We have to bury him with a sword,” which made me realize it wasn’t just me who felt the tribe connection. As I listened to the priest speak, I quickly realized that the guy didn’t know my friend and I found myself needing to defend and honor my brother. I gathered my energy and stood. My energy filled the room. Nothing would get past me in that moment and then I felt something new. I was proud! My beard, in that split second, made me aware that my true self was present. I ended up getting all of my childhood friends to chant and howl, right there in the church. “Let him hear it on the other side!” and we all channeled an inner growl. “Aaaargh!” Perhaps it was just my way to cry, but there was magic in my grief. On that day, I learned to stop being nervous or intimidated or shy. My beard suddenly represented my roots.

 Self-portrait by Sean Mizer

Self-portrait by Sean Mizer

 Photo of Sean Mizer in the MKE Beard Book 

Photo of Sean Mizer in the MKE Beard Book 

I have always been a fan of warrior movies (Braveheart, Gladiator, The Dragon). I have a soft spot for the underdog. The funeral changed my thoughts about not only my beard, but also the course of my life. Since then, my life has transformed. I have hiked the Grand Canyon twice. I have participated in drum circles, yoga, a sweat lodge, and a few gong baths. My beard has become a teaching tool for my children to be themselves and not change for the approval of others. Be yourself and don’t follow. The more self-mastery, the less approval you need.

The beard is no longer a shield. It is a celebration of my spirit.


To learn more about Sean, please visit https://seanmizer.com


Interview: Theresa Reed, The Tarot Lady

Theresa Reed is a Milwaukee-based Professional tarot reader and author of The Tarot Coloring Book (Sounds True). I met Theresa a few years back when we worked on some headshots for her, and we've been working together and plotting to take over the world ever since!  I interviewed Theresa to pick her brain about bearded men in the Tarot, and other delights. 

Interview by Jessica Kaminski



 Headshot of Theresa Reed by Jessica Kaminski 

Headshot of Theresa Reed by Jessica Kaminski 

 Jessica: Who is your current Celebrity Beard Crush?

 Theresa: Jidenna!  I love his beard, his style, his confidence. SWOON.




 Pierce Brosnan rocking a Van Dyke

Pierce Brosnan rocking a Van Dyke

J: What's your favorite type of beard? 

T: Truthfully, I like ‘em all.  They hide a multitude of sins and give men a bit of swagger.  I would probably say that the Van Dyke is my favorite because it gives men a devilish look.  I like that. I also adore Clint Eastwood’s scruffy beard from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly days. That look still drives me nuts to this day. 


J: As a woman, do you like it when men use beard oils or balms, etc? If so, are there any scents that you particularly enjoy?

T: Oh yes!  I love a good smelling man!  I especially like woody, earthy scents like sandalwood, cedar wood. or vetivert.  I do NOT like vanilla anything though. Bleh. I don’t want to smell something sweet and assume you’ve got cookie crumbs in your beard. Keep it woodsy, guys.  

 The Hermit (Rider Waite deck)

The Hermit (Rider Waite deck)

J: Are there any Tarot cards that depict bearded men? If so, can you tell us more about that card? 

T: In the traditional Rider Waite deck (the deck I prefer) there are few bearded dudes!  Most of ‘em are clean shaven. Not sure what that’s about but perhaps the artist wasn’t a beard aficionado? Anyhow, I found four: The Devil, The Emperor, The Hermit and one old guy in the Ten of Pentacles. In tarot, beards were a sign of maturity and wisdom. I probably prefer that Hermit because he embodies mystical wisdom!  Not sure how “mature” the Devil would be - in that case, I think the beard is a sign of mischief - which may be why I like those Van Dyke beards so much!





J: Do any of the Zodiac signs involve people or characters with beards?

T: If we had to put a beard on a zodiac sign, it would probably be Sagittarius or Capricorn.  Sagittarius is the  archer and he’s often depicted as a centaur with a beard.  And Capricorn is the goat - most goats have little beards.  (PS I’m a big goat fan. They are rebellious creatures and I like that.)

J: What do you think a beard says about a man?  

T: Beards say  "I’m grown. I know stuff. I might just be a badass. Watch me."



Ace of Cups (Rider Waite deck)

J: What is your prediction for bearded men in the year 2017?

T: I pulled a tarot card: Ace of Cups - this is the symbol of love.  More people will be loving on bearded men. This is the year for those men to wear their beards with pride! Keep in mind that an Ace also symbolizes a beginning - could this be the year when more men start to let those beards unfurl?  Might media be giving bearded men the love they deserve at long last? It appears that way. This might be the start of a beard-loving craze that gives hairy-faced men their due - and gives us beard lovers more bearded dudes to love! All hail the beard in 2017!


To learn more about Theresa and her work, you can find out more here:





My Bearded Safety Blanket

You know those days where you just feel overwhelmed by the world? I know that you do - we all have those days. But how do you cope? Some people like to have a drink or two, or get lost in some sort of Netflix marathon. 

Sometimes I just need to be held. 

The other day I was having just such a day, when my boyfriend pulled me to him. He is taller than me, so his beard became kind of a pillow for my face. Suddenly, I decided to turn my head and burrow myself more deeply into his chest, and I found myself in a magical new place: the intimate space BEHIND his beard. 

It was quite a revelation, really. His beard is black, so it blocked out a lot of the light, but not all. It felt like a dark veil over my eyes.  I was able to know that the world still existed beyond it, but that I did not have to partake in it.  It was like a fort, or a tent, in which I could hide.  My boyfriend takes care of his beard, so it was soft, but textured at the same time, and smelled like some sort of masculine smell that beard oils attribute to men: perhaps it was pine mixed with leather - something bold but inviting. 

I also took great comfort in knowing that the special place was a place just for me.  

When I was a little girl, I had quite the stuffed animal collection. And back then, they used to sell these triangular-shaped nets that you could hang in a corner and store your toys in, so they were off the ground. One of my parents set up a net like this in the corner of my bedroom. I remember once making some sort of fort out of this corner. I hung a blanket from the net, and laid down more blankets and pillows on the ground within it. I even remember making a little sign out of paper and crayon. It read: My Own Little Corner of The World.

It's nice to know that even as an adult, I can still find these special places. Places that are safe. Places filled with love. 


MINI Portrait Sessions to Benefit NO SHAVE NOVEMBER

Hey Gang! 

We're kicking off No Shave November with MINI PORTRAIT SESSIONS at our Studio!

Details below:

What: 15 minute mini-portrait session with a standard backdrop. 

Who: Individuals and Couples. Bearded Gents, or baby faced blokes. Go Stag or pose with your partner-in-crime!

Where: The Refinery Photo Studio, 229 E Wisconsin Ave, Suite 906, Milwaukee, WI 53202

When: November 5th from 10-2pm. Space is limited!

How much: $25 session fee will reserve a slot. Your session fee will be donated to No Shave November. Prints & Files are available for a la carte purchase after the event.


Support More: Any donation (up to $250) made at the event will get you a gift certificate of equal value for a future Refinery Photo Studio session! 


Purchase a copy of the MKE Beard Book at the event, and we'll donate $25.

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR SESSION: http://www.meetme.so/refinerymke


Kristopher by Jessica Kaminski for MKE Beard