The inception of Beard and Lady began when Lacy and Lance Hendrix fell in love, wed, and moved to the Middle East. After this whirlwind romance and extensive travel, Lacey and Lance Hendrix returned to the US and started the company Beard and Lady, a business dedicated to creative and culturally inspired hair and skin care products. Living locally in Raleigh, North Carolina, they balance their growing business with their growing family and plans for the future.
FORM sat down with Lacey to discuss the inspiration behind Beard and Lady, the perseverance needed to start a small business, and the most rewarding experiences of her journey so far.
Amanda Stevens: After falling in love and getting married after 21 days, you and Lance moved to Egypt. How did that happen?
Lacey Hendrix: Lance and I were talking for about 2 weeks before Lance got the advice to go ahead and meet me. So, he was like, can I fly out to meet you? And I was like, well I’m flying to Florida. So, he flew to Florida. He stayed for a week and we instantly liked each other but what really solidified it was when we cleaned an RV for some friends for a little extra cash. I think having a task together really solidified it, and then the next month I flew out to California and that’s when he proposed. We had our honeymoon in Guatemala, 21 days, which was the same number of days we had physically been together. From there, we convinced people who never left the states to move to Egypt with us.
AS: Where was your favorite place to travel to?
LH: Yemen. We've been in really remote places, but Yemen was completely untouched by Western society like fast food. [The] hospitality was amazing—people and the best goat cheese I've ever had in my life. I like finding places where you're really surprised and undone by hospitality because I think Americans think that we're really open and hospitable but there are a lot of other countries that put us to the test and challenge that.
AS: What was your original plan to work before Beard and Lady was born?
LH: In the Middle East, we both wanted to work with refugees, but jobs were hard to get, even with college degrees, so it didn’t really work out. My husband got a job with the government. We were just starting Beard and Lady research and development through the garage here in North Carolina. My ultimate goal is that we would be able to hire refugees, especially women. Most of them have families, and they don't have the flexibility in their schedule and [there are definitely roles at the company that would be] flexible for scheduling and helping women, and [could] empower women [by hiring] them in some capacity.
AS: At what point did cosmetics become of interest? As a result of or encouraged by travels? Was volunteering with refugees a factor?
LH: Traveling to Egypt did that really. It exposed me to a lot of different ingredients and just spices and flavors and stuff that we don't have or encounter here in the States, and then...the sisterhood in Egypt among women is pretty incredible. I didn't expect somebody who [usually] wears a hijab and the complete long gown to wear the sexiest outfit that you would never dream of wearing [when you meet her at her home] and the coolest shoes and her makeup done and her hair styled, and as soon as you walk in, she’s… all done up to a T all the time, even if no company is coming over. So I learned a lot from [the women there] and...brought it back to the U.S., like the oils that they used for the hair oil and beard oil are just different and have really great qualities that are normally not found here.
AS: How long have you guys been behind Beard and Lady now?
LH: Since 2015, when we launched
AS: How has the business affected your relationship? Has it been positive or a bit straining?
LH: We spent lots of time together, and so I feel like it's just been a really good partnership; we don't really fight—not about the business anyway. Traveling strengthened it. We really know what we're made of—living abroad your first year of marriage really shows what you can go through.
AS: What product is most rooted in or inspired by your travels and experiences together?
LH: The cardamom rose is in almost everything in [Egypt], even the coffee and rose water. So, the chocolate part was just trying to find something that I could use that Americans would recognize and not shy away from. ...It’s a really good combination.
AS: How has the company developed with time and change in locations?
LH: In the beginning we were renting a house with an extra building, and everything was being made out of that, basically from scratch. [Our first order] was around 1400-1500 lip balms... and the second order was something like 30,000. So we now have factories all [over] the US.
And that has really kind of shifted—we had a manufacturer in North Carolina, in California, and Iowa. I was really scared to make that move because when you're taking something that's very yours and [involve other people, you wonder], “am I going to be taken advantage of?” ... What are the unforeseen things we don't know about? It's been a really good move overall.
AS: What have been the greatest challenges in running your own company?
LH: Being a [young] woman and calling different manufacturers and saying, “Hi, this is who I am, I’ve never done this before,and I’m not quite sure at all”—there's all kinds of vocabulary, there's all kinds of concepts that you don't really know, [so you have to be]really open and vulnerable. There were definitely a few times [when] people were just outright rude or they simply didn’t want to work with me [because of the risk they perceived]—just getting over that and having the confidence. Now I can make any kind of call and say I need this to happen and sometimes they're like: “Wow. You're really great to work with even though you're young.”
AS: How have these challenges or the business in general impacted your family?
LH: You know, I think we really try to have a pretty good work balance. There are seasons where there's a fourth quarter or things get super busy, and we have 3 kids, so we really have to rely on family. Definitely, leaning on family helps us through the busy season. But I think [my daughter and I] already talked about her owning the company one day. [My kids] specifically asked if they can hand out lip balms for like Valentine's Day. I don't know what to say I don’t want to be that parent pushing it, but they’re like, “No, everyone asks for it.” So, I think it's been trying to involve my kids where we could and can be open about it.
AS: How do you find sufficient inspiration in Raleigh, NC compared with abroad?
LH: I was a part of the startup and NC Idea Labs, and actually being around other entrepreneurs, even if they’re doing something completely different, is extremely inspiring. Sure, having creative expression and inspiration is one thing...but having a community and other entrepreneurs that are going through similar things has [also] been extremely inspiring.
AS: Where else besides location and travels do you find inspiration for Beard and Lady?
LH: We’re actually hoping to launch Beard and Baby. So that’s the next kind of thing, specifically … more driven towards masculine and male buyers. I feel like a lot of baby products are really geared towards moms buying, but dads are really stepping up their game and are really involved in the decisions, so I would like to have that product line. Something that inspired me is my sons. My daughter is the oldest, and when we had boys and we went to buy products for them, I was like, “This is really girly.” I wanted something that would fit my son’s personality. Also, food—food’s always a thing. When we try new recipes, I try to think about like how we could incorporate this into a new product.
AS: How do your children inspire your work?
LH: I would say they’re a big part of my inspiration. Even my daughter: [she] has blonde, curly hair that’s fine. It’s completely different than mine and so when developing our newest products, I’m always thinking about how she’s totally different from me and how I can find something that will work for her.
AS: Do you plan to travel more to explore more traditional or cultural apothecary practices for future products or formulas?
LH: Absolutely, yeah. Like I said, I really enjoy tea, even incorporating different types of antioxidants from tea into our products, so my husband and I are planning on doing a longer trip to Southeast Asia. It’s been a dream for a while, and it’s something totally different; it’s very different [from] the Middle East.
AS: Would you ever consider venturing into related fields as you expand your business?
LH: Yeah, definitely, we’re totally open to that. The next step is makeup and cosmetic type things. So, I’m interested in that, teas for sure. [We have a set-out plan with] the artist we use with most of the products for Beard and Lady.
AS: What has been the most rewarding experience from this adventure overall?
LH:It’s a lot of fun. I mean, it’s a lot of fun to create something and hear people’s feedback about it. When I first started, I definitely had nightmares and anxiety about people calling and saying “My lips fell off, I used your lip balm!” But then seeing so many people love the products and say that the products bring back memories, like really fond memories of specific things— and I think that’s what’s really rewarding, because I feel the same way about a lot of things. There are personal things I connect with our products, so it’s cool to have that shared with our customers.