One photo uploaded to Instagram was all it took for Isaiah Webb to realise he was on to something big.
Sporting a bushy beard and t-shirt on Sep. 10, 2012, Webb posted a snapshot of himself with the caption of “The ‘Lorax’ beard” along with a number of hashtags.
Just like that, “Incredibeard” was born.
Nearly two years later, most of Webb’s 250,000+ social media followers know him only as Incredibeard — a self-proclaimed nickname that describes the wild facial hair designs to be expected from the 30-year-old San Francisco Bay Area native.
He started out slow, building a following organically and not really promoting himself. But it wasn’t long before people started noticing and following along for what he and his wife would think of next.
“We got more and more people [following],” Webb told me, adding that he started coming up with a consistent schedule of new designs and photos to accompany them. His small following became huge just a few months later, thanks to Reddit.
“It exploded on Reddit,” he said of the images posted to the popular social-sharing website. “And people just found me.”
While Reddit grew his social media following on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, it was a contest put on by Marc Jacobs that did even more. Called “#MJinLA,” entrants had to shoot a video showing why they deserve to be a star; and if picked, then contest winners would receive clothes, a trip to Los Angeles, and a photo shoot with renowned celebrity photographer Brian Bowen Smith.
He thought he had no chance, especially when facing beautiful women, popular bloggers, and others. “Who am I?” he thought.
“I was blown away because the president of the company actually hand-picked mine,” Webb said.
Flying down to L.A., he said, was the tipping point for turning his beard into an actual business. While there, he spoke with a number of higher-ups with Marc Jacobs and in the fashion industry, giving him the extra push he needed.
It would be the spark for Incredibeard Co., a storefront for t-shirts, tank-tops, and all things beard grooming.
The Ramen Beard
Shortly after his return home, Webb — who up to this point had thought up all the crazy beard designs himself or with the help of his wife — asked his fans what to do next.
A fan’s suggestion on Facebook was a bowl with chopsticks in it. “I was like, ‘I’ll do you one better, I’ll put something in that bowl,'” he said.
Webb shot a now infamous — and pretty hilarious — video of a “beard bowl” with Ramen noodles. It didn’t make much of an initial splash, but that changed a couple weeks later.
“All it has to do is hit one person,” Webb said. “And that happened — and it just went boom and it exploded. It went from 2,000 views to 650,000 views on YouTube.” (The video now has more than 700,000).
Besides going viral, the video landed him coverage with Mashable, CNN, and many others. He was even featured in a television ad for the 2014 Honda Civic.
And a Facebook algorithm change, he said, grew his following over 100,000 a few months later.
While his Ramen beard is pretty hard to top, Webb does have some friendly competition. His growing Facebook page has become a sounding board for the bearded among us to show off their own designs.
Now, Webb still uses his social media base to share interesting beard designs, as well as t-shirts and beard grooming products in his own store — with a portion of sales also helping provide access to clean water for children.
“If you can affect even just one person’s life and save them,” Webb said of why he chose to give away some profits to charity. “That’s pretty amazing.”
So far, he’s affected 198.
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