PORTLAND, Ore. -- Facial fuzz around the globe was celebrated this past weekend with World Beard Day. But two of the most evolving beards in the world are found in Portland.
Two best friends have named themselves The Gay Beards. Whatever kind of craft, food, natural or unnatural substance, they'll find a way to put it in their beards. And because of it, their Instagram, YouTube and Facebook pages have blown up from the popularity.
Johnathan Dahl and Brian Delaurenti have been best friends since they met in fourth grade in Beaverton. They're so close that they finish each other's sentences and now live together.
Dahl was in a band and Delaurenti worked for Netflix in Hillsboro when their facial scruff turned into so much more.
"He started growing his beard, and I was on tour and so I was like, I want to grow my beard out too," said Dahl.
It was two years ago when a film student friend of theirs put a few flowers in their beards and wanted to take pictures.
"In my mind at that time, I was like, 'We'll just post a couple photos and it'll be funny,'" Delaurenti said.
As the photos got more unbelievable, with glitter poured into their beards, googly-eye stickers, moss, balloons, drink umbrellas, more people thought it was funny, too.
"I think we hit 10,000 followers and we were flabbergasted that even 10,000 people out there would have an interest in what we were doing," said Delaurenti.
Now, The Gay Beards have hundreds of thousands of followers -- 261,000 on Instagram alone.
Their Southwest Portland basement is their photo studio, full of their craft supplies. The secret, they say, is toothpicks or skewers. If something can be stabbed with a toothpick, then it can be inserted into their heavily hairsprayed beards. The hairspray holding everything in place.
In all the silliness, there is a mission: To bring happiness and a laugh to someone's day. But more importantly, The friends remember their days in school, struggling to come out in the open about being gay, and ending up realizing their friendship could get them through anything.
"A lot of our message is geared toward the youth. Those are typically the individuals who struggle the most growing up and trying to accept themselves for who they are and live out their own dreams and not being afraid of what other people think," Delaurenti said.
That courage has paid off. Both men have quit their jobs, instead they are now full-time beard-artists, searching for the next medium. Companies paying them to pose with products in their beards, or just as quirky spokesmodels. Google, Portland Gear, Totino's Pizza, The Art of Shaving, and Smile Sciences teeth whitening are just a few of the companies that have hired The Gay Beards.
"We consider ourselves beyond lucky because we get to do something we really love and try and put out a message that hopefully will have a positive impact on people," Delaurenti said.
The Gay Beards are working on a coffee table book of photos, along with a children's book down the line. And they're always looking for ideas for the next great beard photo.