When Nick Karnaze began his tour with the Marines as an aviation intelligence officer in Iraq, entrepreneurship was the furthest thing from his mind.
After a few years in the private sector, Nick thought life was going fine. But fate was about to deal him a cruel hand. He learned that his close friend and former bunkmate, Justin, had been killed in Afghanistan on July 24, 2012. To honor the memory of his fallen friend, he employed a tradition that was common in the special operations forces, which was to stop shaving and grow a beard. As time went on, his beard became incredibly itchy, forcing Nick to go out and find a solution. When Nick discovered there was no middle ground between drugstore and high-end beard oil, he took matters into his own hands and began mixing formulas. In 2013, stubble and ‘stache was born.
“I had a vision of creating an amazing skincare company that employs a lot of veterans,” Nick says. “That was the idea from the beginning. “
Nick explains that he always wanted to build a business that lasts and would endure. To do that, his goal was to create a product that caters to men who take pride in their appearance but don’t want to splurge on higher-priced items. His former military buddies were some of his first customers and the word spread quickly. stubble + ‘stache grew steadily, and the company now sells products for grooming and skincare and donates a portion of proceeds to organizations supporting wounded veterans. But there were growing pains along the way, and lessons Nick had to learn.
“I thought from the very beginning that I had to have this appearance of a highly polished brand that you’d find in a high-end store, which was not helpful to the business,” Nick says. “I would say some of the greatest advice from my mentors was, whatever you do, whatever you think, get it out there, get it done, and don’t overthink it.”
On this episode of Find Your Mission, hear Nick’s story from his life in the military all the way through becoming an entrepreneur with a mission.
Learn more about Nick and stubble and ‘stache here.
Find Your Mission is presented by WeWork in partnership with Dell.
Thank you again to WeWork! Veterans in Residence, a partnership of WeWork and Bunker Labs, is a six-month startup incubator and leadership program that provides veteran and military family members the community, business support, and workspace to help launch and grow their businesses.
To learn more about WeWork and the Veterans in Residence program, visit we.co/veterans.
Also, thank you to our friends at Dell. Dell offers small business advisors to help any small business owner manage and understand all the ins and outs of technology in their small business. To speak with an Advisor today, Call 877-BUY-DELL or click here.
This podcast was created by the team at Mission. If you want to hear more from Mission, be sure to check out Mission.org.