By J. K. Schmid, AFRO Staff

Randy Lewis can’t say for certain when the new trend of men’s self-care took off, but he’s loving  being in front of it.

“I always took care of myself, always groomed myself,” Lewis told the AFRO. “I saw that a lot of men weren’t. Did they think that men just don’t take of themselves, they just throw shirts on and go out the door?”

A part of Lewis’s self-care is his thick full beard. It stands out and it seems completely free of strays, patches and split ends. He’s been growing it for 12 years.

Randy Lewis pours freshly mixed coconut lime butter. It will cool and in a couple hours and be ready for sale. (Photo by J. K. Schmid)

Lewis attributes the uptick in the rise in the prominence of beards as fashionable to the Facebook page Beard Game Matters.

“It started to spread when they got like millions of followers,” Lewis said. “And I think that’s how beards became really popular in the last couple of years.”

All the while, in pursuit of perfection, Lewis tried any number of off-the-shelf consumer beard care products.

“My beard was still sketchy,” Lewis said. “ It was still growing in, but it wasn’t healthy: A lot of breakage, I had a patch here and there; so I started researching.”

A week on Google, looking for natural and quality solutions led Lewis-literally-to right in his backyard.

“I was like, ‘wow,’ so I’m growing stuff right in my garden that I can use and basically infuse it with the natural oils to create beard products. That’s what I did. I did it for like four months, where I test different recipes that I came up with.”

One successful test saved Lewis’s family a lot of pain and cash.

“My nephew suffers from extreme eczema, and the doctors wanted to put him on steroids and it was costing my sister a lot of money. And then I went back to computer: researched what herbs, what natural oils works for eczema. I created this butter just for him, and then I added it to the company. He’s been using it for two years.”

“My sister made me cry,” Lewis said. “She made a post on Facebook and she was saying how I created this for and his skin went from that to this and that’s thanks to his uncle and not the doctor’s who were trying to stick him.”

Lewis works out of his home in Edison, where he provides on-site care: steam baths, brush ups and sales, he also says he has a strong mail-order demand as well, shipping as far away as California.

The space is cozy, and Lewis’s care for plants dominates the environment. The next week’s harvest of basil, mint and rosemary are right up front for customers to inspect alongside bottles of oil infusing for Lewis next creations.

There’s a boutique aspect in that old recipes are only available upon request. During the AFRO’s visit, Lewis was working on a new coconut lime butter.

As the business expands, Lewis is catering to more and more women. He’s developed a new hair oil with eucalyptus and rosemary, and as Valentine’s Day approaches, he selling not only to men shopping for themselves, but women shopping for the men in their life.

Before Father’s Day, in April and May, Lewis will be relocating downtown, near Lombard and MLK and he hopes to wind up with a one-stop-shop for every kind of men’s self care.

“I basically want to turn it into like a GQ/men’s spa type of thing,” Lewis said. “Have my steamer going where you can get your beard treated right on the spot. I want a barber in there, maybe two, where you can physically get hair cuts.The whole nine yards, maybe get an outdoor space where you can sit back and have a cigar. There’s a lot of women’s spots out here. We don’t have a lot of things for men. I’m trying to build something for us.”

Appointments can be made at FIVEOCLOCKCO on Facebook and Instagram.