The Lowdown on Beard-Lovin' GIBS Grooming

Mike “Big Smooth” Howland (left) and Brian “Gib” Long (right), GIBS Grooming Co-Founders

What do the Grateful Dead, fly-fishing and bagels have in common? They were all steps in the winding path that led Brian “Gib” Long and Mike “Big Smooth” Howland to create the incomparable GIBS Grooming—complete with badass branding and packaging. “Looking back on my life, I know that I was swinging a lot—hustling and selling products, from T-shirts to veggie wraps, in the parking lots at concerts,” says Long. “I followed the rock ‘n’ roll path like true Deadheads do. That allowed me to tap into my entrepreneurial spirit, one that carried me way beyond the death of Jerry Garcia.” In between Dead concerts, Long opened a bagel shop where he met Howland over a cup of coffee. Parlaying Long’s love of fly-fishing, the duo created a fishing-inspired line of hair accessories for women. “But none of our many business ventures has ever compared to GIBS,” says Howland. We sat down and chatted with the GIBS guys to get the lowdown on this manly, beard-lovin’ brand.

Man Wash Beard, Hair & Body, all a guy needs to get clean

Q Many of your biggest-selling products are for the beard. Can you tell us why you think beards are making such a huge comeback? 
Back in the ’50s men were expected to be clean cut and freshly shaved. Then the ’70s led to a rebellion of that polished look—hair got longer and hygiene kind of took a backseat. Fast-forward to today, and men are more comfortable in their own skin—they’re okay with using multiple products in the bathroom and keeping it fresh and clean. They’re also expressing their own personal style and masculinity much more, which includes beards.
Smooth: Men are also taking on more responsibilities and roles that were once considered only things women would do—taking care of the kids, cleaning the house and doing laundry. Now they’re doing those things while also being that big, burly, tattooed and bearded “man’s man.”

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Q Your imagery is completely different from the style of photography we normally see. How would you describe the company’s image?
All of our imagery is based on who we are and who our consumers are. We don’t always hire models from agencies. Sometimes we ask our very own GIBS’ guys to model—guys off the street, guys from the gym and guys from the barbershop. As for our shoot locations, we always remember that we’re a lifestyle brand that was born out of a culture of tattoos, beards and badassery. So when we plan a shoot, we go straight to the source—be it a tattoo parlor or a graffiti-covered train on the tracks.
Q What future GIBS’ news can you share with us?
We do have one card up our sleeve when it comes to education starting in 2018. We are proud to announce that Danny Amorim, Master Barber and one of our current educators, will be stepping up to take over as Education Director for GIBS. This is going to be huge on an education level.

The GIBS’ culture: beards and “badassery” 
Q Can you tell us about your  Cancer Sucks campaign?
Cancer is something that runs deep with people in this company, and it has honestly cut us to the core. Last year I lost Steph—my wife, best friend, and the mother of my young children—to this ungodly disease.
Gib: Currently, both of my parents are also battling this bastard of a disease. It’s why we are so avid in our support of organizations that raise cancer awareness, and it’s why we decided to begin our own small campaign that really just says “screw you” to cancer.

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Photography: Courtesy of GIBS Grooming