Mustaches and beards are back en vogue, thanks in part to our Millennial generation’s peculiar tastes. That old-world, rugged look seems to have caught on in our hyper-digital society as we strive to swing the pendulum back to a more “real”, earthy, dare-I-say Midwestern way of living. It’s the same reason every new brewery looks like it’s half barn, half industrial forge, and why even New York City has a “Little Wisco” and Wisconsin-style supper clubs now.
When Baltimore-native, Casey, moved to Milwaukee with his Wisconsinite girlfriend, Autumn, (“as an East Coast souvenir”), he was ready for the vibrant lakeside city life he’d experienced in past visits. What he…and his face…weren’t prepared for was the biting cold of their first Wisconsin winter.
Casey quickly grew out a “face scarf” to keep warm, and Autumn crafted a surprise homemade gift in his holiday stocking to go along with it: their first batch of beard scrub. Casey knew that this could be something others would want, too; thus, Cream City Grooming Essentials was born.
“We started making more of it pretty much immediately. It was our small way of embracing the bearded, flannel way of life.”
While the flagship ground coffee beard scrub (“it invigorates & exfoliates”) is still their most popular item, the entire lineup has expanded to a number of other unisex self-care items.
- Beard oil with hops, for those of us who want to both look and smell like brewers.
- Mustache wax, if you’re feeling adventurous.
- Beard balm, for those dry winters or sun-scorched summers.
- Lip balm, if you can find them under your face scarf.
- Pomade, for the beard on top of your head.
- Hand cream, because not just your face should be pampered.
Every ingredient is all natural, with most being organic. The Dunns usually spend one weekend a month in their Bay View kitchen whipping up a huge batch of product. They self-distribute to a number of local shops, as well as ship direct from their Etsy store. You can find them at various markets around town as well. As Casey told us,
“Nowadays it’s pretty common for men to be using products to take care of themselves, but there’s still a lot of people who are skeptical. I’ve had a lot of people ask to touch my beard to see if the product works well for me.”
The Dunns stressed how open Milwaukee has been for local craftsmen such as themselves: “People in Milwaukee really know what they’re all about.” A gift given on a whim has turned Cream City Grooming Essentials into a, well, essential part of many Milwaukee men’s daily facial care routines.