This post was written by Emily McMahon, Executive Director of the Alexandria Veterans Business Enterprise Center, situated within the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership offices with Alexandria Small Business Development Center. If you’re a veteran and interested in starting a business, check out AVBEC to see how they can help you!
As Cyber Monday kicks off December, have you considered supporting an Alexandria veteran-owned small business for your holiday shopping?
Here are two that continue to make headlines for their innovative approaches to their respective industries and also for donating a percentage of their products to veteran-related charities.
Army veteran Diego Echeverri launched Bull + Moose in 2013 and has not looked back. After being featured in GQ.com before the 2013 holiday shopping season, Echeverri’s sales exploded, and he continues to make waves in the DC fashion scene for making quality neckties, bowties, and squares at a reasonable price; most of his collection is available for under $40. After serving in Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, Echeverri is proud to sponsor Got Your Six, a nonprofit that empowers veterans to convert their leadership and operational training into positive civilian roles in communities nationwide.
One of our favorite Bull + Moose selections is the camo tie. Made of 100% silk in dark olive, black and greyish green, we’ve seen Alexandria City Council member John Chapman, the CEO/ President of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership Val Hawkins, and the Military Officer Association of America’s John Sims around down donning this camo tie in 2014.
To find Bull + Moose products here in Alexandria, go to the The Lucky Knot, (101 King St, Alexandria; 703-549-1797).
Veteran and Alexandria resident Nicholas Karnaze found Stubble & ‘Stache after his good friend from the Marine Corps Special Operations Forces Justin Hansen was killed in action in 2012 while serving in Afghanistan. To pay tribute to Hansen, Karnaze grew out a beard and soon grew frustrated by the lack of options for quality beard care.
“I was so surprised to see how few products there were for men’s beard care on the market – only beard oils,” said Karnaze of his initial inspiration.
According to many bloggers and retail experts, beards are back with such cultural phenomenons as “No Shave November” and its mustache counterpart “Movember.” The last few years, athletes in the World Series and Stanley Cup playoffs sporting major “scruff” only reinforce that beards, facial hair, and men’s skin care are on the rise. A number of professional football and baseball players are using Stubble & ‘Stache products.
After a frustrating search, Karnaze started making his own products in his kitchen and achieved early success through word-of-mouth. Stubble & ‘Stache currently offers two products – a combination face moisturizer/beard conditioner and a beard wash that continue to receive rave reviews from beauty bloggers and users. In August, Karnaze attended PROJECT Las Vegas, which is one of the premier Fashion trade shows in the country. While there, The Blogger Project awarded Stubble & ‘Stache the “Best In Grooming” award. The Blogger Project is a group of leading fashion and style bloggers from across the United States. According to Karnaze, “[The win] has given us absolutely amazing exposure! Never did we imagine we would win -especially going up against very well established brands.”
After a successful stint with Birchbox, a service that mails monthly deliveries of personalized beauty, grooming, and lifestyle samples worldwide, before the 2013 holiday season, Karnaze knew his success was here to stay. For this upcoming holiday season, Karnaze expects the Beard Care Starter Kit to be the top seller. “It’s an amazing one-two punch to really help elevate a guy’s beard and skincare game. The two products complement one another perfectly, and it makes for a wonderful gift set,” says Karnaze.
What is life like as a retailer during the holiday rush? “It’s insane during the holiday season! My number one concern is ensuring we have enough inventory to meet demand. I recently had to do a rush transfer of inventory from one warehouse to another. We strive to ensure orders are delivered within a few days for purchase. No one likes to wait!”
To find Stubble & ‘Stache products here in Alexandria, go to The Gentlemen’s Quarters (105 S. Union St., Alexandria; 703-836-7330), and stubbleandstache.com.
Emily McMahan is the Director of the Alexandria Veterans Business Enterprise Center. Her organization supports many of the veteran-owned businesses in Alexandria through outreach, networking, and education.