Erin’s Takeover Thursday with Nicholas Karnaze

Erin's Takeover Thursday with Nicholas Karnaze
Nicholas Karnaze

Takeover Thursday: Smart is Sexy

Join us every Thursday as Erin Lyons takes a closer look at young entrepreneurs on the rise.

Former Marine Corps Special Operations Officer Nicholas Karnaze is the brains and brawn behind the newly launched men’s facial hair and skincare line Stubble & ‘Stache. It goes without saying that Karnaze himself sports a neatly trimmed beard, with the sharp lines of a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick, but the handsome veteran behind the brand has a story that is more than skin deep.

Karnaze first started growing out his whiskers for the funeral of fellow Marine Justin Hansen, who was killed in combat in Afghanistan. Hansen was known for his epic beard, but Karnaze quickly learned the travails of beard growth and maintenance, as he was plagued with itchy and dry skin as he grew out his beard. The dearth of quality and affordable beard products was the inspiration behind the brand’s signature Face Moisturizer & Beard Conditioner ($34) and, given the inspiration behind the product line, a substantial portion of Stubble & ‘Stache’s profits are donated to charities supporting wounded heroes, specifically those working to heal the mental trauma associated with combat, such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and depression.

 Stubble & ‘Stache

We sat down with Karnaze and asked our entrepreneurial expert to dish out his top 5 tips for men sporting facial hair.

  1. Be patient! Karnaze explains that growing a full beard takes time—do not fall victim to premature shaping—give it three to four weeks before you begin shaping. One of the most common newbie mistakes is to shape too early. Understand your “beard dynamics” first, then choose the best style to fit your growth to avoid looking lopsided.
  2. Shave with the grain! Shaving exfoliates your skin, but shaving against the grain can cause damage and lead to premature aging. Open your pores with warm water or a warm towel and use a quality shaving cream to prevent inflammation. After shaving, rinse with cool water to close your pores and lessen the likelihood of ingrown hairs and redness, and always give your skin a happy ending with a good moisturizer. If aging is a concern, use a moisturizer with a retinoid to unclog pores, reduce the appearance of fine lines, and speed cell turnover. Stubble & ‘Stache uses retinyl palmitate in its products.
  3. Trim, trim, trim! Attention to detail is key, take care of those unibrows, ear hair, and nose hair, as Karnaze says, “you should only have one beard on your face.
  4. Be open to experimentation: “Bald + Beard = Badass. This is a fact.”
  5. No one wants a “flavor saver.” The hair on your face is not the same as the hair on your head. Normal face wash can strip away needed oils, resulting in a coarse, dry beard. Watch for the Stubble & ‘Stache Face & Beard Wash, which has just been added to the product line.

Lastly, a few questions from the SWS take on the Proust questionnaire:

Favorite spot for power networking?

The 7-Eleven near 14th and U St.

What will be your first splurge when you make it big?

Custom Land Rover Defender 90 or a 1965 Lincoln Continental Convertible.

Is there something (product, service, person, etc.) you cannot live without in your everyday work life?

Shipwire. They handle all of my logistics. That, and copious amounts of caffeine.

Stubble & ‘Stache products can be purchased online at the company’s e-commerce site ( Plans are in the works for the line to be available through local and national retailers, but as all good entrepreneurs know, a huge mistake is trying to grow too fast too soon—like a good beard, it takes time to grow.


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