The Mod Cabin began life as a business that found and sold mid-century furniture through Etsy. Why does a company that sells furniture change direction and start creating all natural skin and beard care products? Necessity and passion. The husband and wife team of Chris Crawford and Cori Gray decided to make their own soaps, oils, and balms because they couldn’t find any natural products for Chris’ sensitive skin. After some research, and a few attempts, a beard oil was created, and other products soon followed. They quickly realized they were making products they loved, and doing something they believed in, and The Mod Cabin as it is today began in earnest. We talk to Chris about starting the business, making their products by hand, and what inspires them to keep doing what they’re doing.
How did The Mod Cabin begin?
Cori and moved from Phoenix to Colorado in 2010. We were both working at jobs we didn’t like, and decided that couldn’t last much longer, so we decided to start an Etsy shop. We came up with the Mod Cabin name, and started out finding and selling mid-century furniture.
Around the same time, I was thinking about growing a beard, but had problems with most skincare products – a doctor in Arizona told me there was nothing to do about it but take medicine. When we got to Colorado, I saw a doctor who told me to go a more natural route. When I did that, we found all these amazing products that are good for you, and we decided to try our hand at making a beard oil to kick things off. We realized we could make a really good product, and created our own website to sell it. It turns out you can only go so far selling mid-century furniture [laughs].
You ended up finding a unique method of creating products that worked for your own skin?
Cori makes soaps and cleansing oils that don’t dry out skin, or make it too oily. We use older methods, meaning we use oils as a skin cleanser – this balances out skin. Bigger companies will remove things like glycerin from soap – and add chemicals that dry out your skin. This means makes you have to buy more products from that company just to moisturize. People usually think about stripping out oils when they’re cleaning their faces, but we have to put them back in if we want to keep our skin balanced.
Have you always made your products by hand?
We get our essential oils, shea, jojoba from wholesalers, and we spend a day making a product. Yesterday Cori made about 10 lbs of birch tar soap. She makes it and then cures it for a few weeks. We do small batches, about 10 lbs of soap at once. We’ll make some stuff for back stock, but not everything will keep like that, so we make most things when people order it.
What’s the general process for making a beard oil?
You need the right mix ingredients: argan, coconut oil, essential oils. It’s important to know how much needs to go into whatever you’re trying to make. It took us months to get it exactly right.
You offer a Beard Balm and a Beard Oil. What’s the difference?
The difference between oil and balm? There’s shea and beeswax in balm – they’re the moisturizers and sealants that provide the hold. You can put balm in your beard when it’s wet and it holds the curl. The beard oil contains jojoba, argon, and coconut oil, which softens and moisturizes your beard, making it more manageable.
Where do you get inspiration for your products?
We’re all about old natural methods, finding out what’s best for us and making it [for everyone]. It’s an empowering feeling. Rather than doing something we don’t care about, we want to make things we believe in. I used to have a job making sales leads, and to get ahead, I would have had to do things I didnt ethically believe in. With this, we’re contributing and making a product that helps people. We like seeing that something we’re making is helping people – that makes us both happy.
Of everything you make, do you have a favorite product?
I love the birch tar soap, and I use it every day for my body. That’s my favorite. I buzz my hair but you can even use it to wash your hair.
What are your future plans for The Mod Cabin?
We want to grow but not just for the sake of growing. We want to get into niche markets – making friends with people in different industries and sharing their stories along the way. We’ve gotten in with the Gotham City Beard Alliance, and we’ve met a lot of people involved with mixed martial arts lately. We’ve become friends with WMMA fighter Stephanie Skinner. She faced a lot of discrimination from people in the small town she grew up in, but she’s the nicest person you’ll ever meet. There’s a great conversation with her on our blog. Ultimately, we just want to help people feel empowered, and build our brand as we go along.