It’s been less than a year since an English beardo named John Kershaw joked about the number of ridiculous startups in the world. The Mancunian entrepreneur said there ought to be an app that would match bearded men with people that like to stroke beards. That same day, he came up with the name Bristlr and built a signup page.
Flash forward a few months and Bristlr was suddenly full-fledged dating site. The blog Elite Daily picked up the story early on, and word began spreading like wildfire. Bristlr had 30,000 users in January, and that number’s more than tripled since then.
Unlike most dating sites, Bristlr doesn’t divide its members by gender or sexual orientation. You’re either a beard-haver or a beard-lover. I joined this morning and poked around for a little while, recognizing four of the guys in my immediate radius. Two I’m pretty sure are straight, a local bartender and a guy I kinda-sorta knew in high school, while the other two are openly gay.
Kershaw estimates that only two to four percent of Bristlr users are gay, although he notes that a great many profiles were created by men looking to share grooming tips with other men. Nearly half of the profiles are ladies, although disappointingly few of them are bearded ladies.
As with any dating site, there are some profiles that seem really cool and interesting, and there are some people that seem like serious headcases that are to be avoided at all costs. One local straight guy actually had the word bitch in his screen name, although that somehow seemed less surprising upon seeing the Red Sox tattoo behind his ear.
Beards have been pretty trendy in gay circles for quite awhile now, at least since the 2007 launch of Pinups magazine and the Beard Love series of videos by Sean Johnson.
More recently, the bearded look has been co-opted by straight guys who equate an ideal of manliness with the genetic ability to grow facial hair. Fashion writers have been claiming that we hit “peak beard” for years now, but they’re not going away just yet. Evolutionary scientists point out that beards are rooted in male aggression. Overly bro-y commercials for Old Spice and Dollar Beard Club are obviously meant to be jokey but you know there’s a contingent of men out there who take them very, very seriously.
Here’s a more NSFW version of the same ridiculousness, with the possibly misspelled hashtag #RazorsAreForWoman in the description box.
Kershaw’s working full-time at Bristlr, but right now he’s the statup’s only full-time employee. He’s currently raising funds to take the app to the next level, one which will hopefully generate some revenue and lead to lots of beards living happily ever after.
(featured image via bristlr)