Steele Magnolia Beard Co.

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story by Anna Glidewell
photos by Lindsay Pace

Richard Colton Armstong wasn’t looking for a business in 2017 when he created Steel Magnolia Beard Company at his eponymous barber shop in Tishomingo. He was looking for a simple, quality way to make his beard grow better.

“When I first started growing my beard out it would grow to a certain point, ” Armstong said. “And when it gets long it kind of starts to do its own thing. I always shaved it off because I didn’t think it looked good. I didn’t think anyone else would think it looked good.”

Armstrong did what many do in times of uncertainty: He turned to friends. Like him, they all disliked the way their beards looked once they reached a certain length. They tried a few big box products, but the selection was limited — especially when it came to scent.

“You could either smell like oil, pine, or menthol. That was kind of it at the time,” Armstrong recalled. “I started following beard products [on social media], and researching what makes good beard products, and the kind of different scents that guys were picking up on.”

From there, he tested a few beard oil recipes and shared them, with overwhelmingly positive reception. His friends shared the products with their friends, a before long, Armstrong received Facebook messages from strangers asking how they could get more.

“From that point, I started looking at it like ‘maybe this could be a business,’” Armstrong said. “My father and grandfather always owned their own businesses, so I knew from an early age after watching them that I wanted to do something for myself. I didn’t know it was going to be beard care products.”

Like most entrepreneurs, Armstrong experiences his share of challenges, but his success, he noted, comes by returning to the drawing board when the inevitable failure happens.

And that’s exactly what Armstrong did until Steel Magnolia Beard Company was born. As of now, the company offers seven different scents and is adding its first seasonal scent this year. The business has grown beyond beard oil to beard care, including beard balm and shampoo. Products are sold via Armstrong’s website and at several different retailers across Northeast Mississippi — including his own barbershop, where his career and company collide.

Over the last four years, Armstrong has worked hard to understand exactly what his all natural, handmade products do and how they benefit his customers.

“Beard oil is actually designed for the skin,” Armstrong explained. “It moisturizes and hydrates the skin, which in turn promotes healthy growth for the beard. It will help fill in patchiness and eradicate itchiness caused by dry skin,” he said. “The beard balm is a leave-in conditioner if you will. It nourishes the hair. It also helps with beard styling.”

On step with his care for customers, Armstrong cares for his community. Steel Magnolia Beard Company has partnered with Hinderless22: Ronnie McNutt Foundation — which exists to prevent veteran suicide — to offer an exclusive scent of their beard balm, oil, and shampoo.

Armstrong hopes the company will only continue to grow. He has plans to expand his product line to include more styling and care products for men.

“[Customers are] using things like pomade,” Armstrong said. “But I want to offer products to help guys look better, and feel good.”

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