Pierce Thiot of “Will It Beard” on the Genesis of The Flower Beard
“Will It Beard” is a cultural phenomenon that could only exist because of the Internet, and the Internet’s weird propensity for novelty. As a website invented by Pierce Thiot to document the strange materials that he could successfully hang from his beard, “Will It Beard” is credited with inspiring the beard-craze that eventually led to the world wide popularity of flower beards.
Flower beards and other floral facial hair adornments took off around 2012 and soon became a wildly-popular internet phenomenon (right around the time Will It Beard reached cult status on Instagram). Since that time, flower beards have been associated with music festival culture and niche facial hair movements like No Shave November.
Recently, when GC spoke with Thiot about the motivation behind Will It Beard and the circumstances that caused him to inadvertently begin the flower beard trend, he told us that the facial hair joke became popular almost by accident. “My daughter was six months old at the time,” he told us.
“I think because a beard is something that’s very natural and normal, flowers are a perfect fit. And then you’re this wild-looking thing, which still looks a little untamed.”
“My mom, who just adores all of her grandchildren, asked all her grandchildren to do a talent show for her, and they all came and did balancing tricks and things like that. As a joke, I asked all the kids how many junk drawer items they could stuff into my beard. I just did it for fun. Not a talent that needed to be real, but it got us some laughs from my family. And my wife– she’s a photographer– and I looked over at her. We’re always talking about backpacking and things we can do together that are fun. I said to her, we should just do this for a photo [concept], and that’s how it started. It was a dumb party trick.”
Soon, Thiot and his wife started photographing the “party trick” in their daughter’s converted nursery. The first thing he ever put in his beard were toothpicks– a staggering 800 of them.
Eventually, they arrived at the concept of flowers. “Sometimes people will ask me, ‘How do you grow this beard?'” says Thiot. “And actually, I literally do nothing. I stopped shaving– it’s a very natural thing! It just happens. I think because it’s something that’s very natural and normal that happens in nature, flowers are a perfect fit. And then you’re this wild-looking thing, which still looks a little untamed,” he recalls when asked why flowers seem to have become the most popular beard adornment on the Internet. “Especially since the flowers that we pick were very wild, and it just felt like it was something that fit in with this look in a perfectly polar-opposite way.” The rest, as it were, was history.
“The algorithm to winning the Internet is to find something that you can do fairly easily, put a small twist on it, and then do it over and over and over again,” he continues. “So we ran an Instagram and a Tumblr that we posted [the beards] on, and we were received really well.”
“It was really fun seeing peoples’ reactions. It was kind of funny too that at first it was mostly girls, and they would all tag their boyfriends in the pictures and then the boyfriends would be the ones that were left [viewing]. The internet loves dumb, and all I want do is make some people smile,” says Thiot. “I think I’ve succeeded in that regard.”
Check out a gallery of some of our favorite flower beards from across the web, below.