The taming of the beard begins in Steven Cornfield’s Turnagain apartment.
His business partner, Kyle Reading, spends most days mixing oils in the kitchen — a base of castor, grape seed and jojoba — and bottling the mixture on a table in the dining nook.
The two aren’t exactly Mr. Fur Face contenders. In fact, Reading admits the scruff they currently sport is more of an “excuse for a beard.” But they are getting the men’s grooming game down to a science. Their brand, Cut & Caliber, is home to beard oil, mustache wax, hair pomade and other products.
“Beard oil has been big in the Lower 48 for years,” said Reading. “And now, guys are getting comfortable with the idea of putting product in their hair or face.”
Reading and Cornfield met years ago over their love for good music, which took them from Anchorage to the Seattle area with bandmates.
“We all lived in this big house, and me and Kyle drew the short straws to room together,” said Cornfield. “That’s how we really got to know each other.”
There, they bonded over their enthusiasm for entrepreneurship. Both wanted to start businesses and inspire people to tap into the start-up trend. There was just one problem: neither had a successful business to serve as a model.
“We came back to Alaska with the idea of let’s do that,” said Cornfield of starting Cut & Caliber. “We went back to the drawing board and were like, let’s launch this and kind of document the whole thing from start to finish.”
Now, Cornfield, who moved to Alaska from upstate New York more than 10 years ago, can be found with his smartphone at the ready, uploading photos and videos to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat ahead of the brand’s official launch party on Thursday. He also serves as designer for the brand. The phrase “Handcrafted in Alaska,” along with the idea to highlight Alaska’s biggest industries on the Cut & Caliber label was his handiwork.
Reading, a lifelong Alaskan, serves as the mad scientist of the duo, concocting recipes from essential and carrier oils. The difference between bad beard oil and the good stuff lies in a number of factors: how light/heavy it feels on the hair and skin, how well it moisturizes, “and the scent is always a big seller,” Cornfield says.
Both groomed gents pride themselves on being seasoned men of style, but they aren’t stingy with their beauty secrets. While paying homage to the ruggedness of Alaska in Cut & Caliber scents, the plan is to educate customers on the basics of men’s grooming.
“I think it’s the perfect time for us to be the authority on this and say, ‘Look, this is what’s really big in a lot of cities, and you’re going to be one of the first people to be using that up here,'” said Reading.
The duo estimates the haircut that was trendy in Portland in 2011 is just now reaching the borders of the Last Frontier. Alaska style maybe be a little behind the times, but for those customers looking for an upgrade, Cornfield and Reading say it pays to be prepared with a jar of Cut & Caliber pomade.
Cut & Caliber’s official launch party will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Mar. 10. The event will be held at Blues Central (inside Williwaw), located at 609 F Street.