Prince’s Trust Canada Helps Veteran-Owned Business Realize its Growth Potential

Kevin LeboeufEducated Beards, Fredericton, NB

 

“We started in our kitchen, making organic products and giving them away. We now have nine staff and 19 members,” explains Kevin Leboeuf, co-founder of Educated Beards.

 

Kevin joined the military at 18 as a combat engineer. Fourteen years later in 2016, he was diagnosed with PTSD from a 2008 tour in Afghanistan. “I transitioned out in 2016 and decided to do the one thing I could never do in the military: grow a beard.” 

 

Beards only became acceptable as part of military dress protocol in September 2018, so Kevin had never experienced the troubles that come with growing one. “It’s not easy; it’s dry, itchy. I bought products to alleviate the discomfort. My partner is a holistic nutritionist. She read the ingredients and said, ‘you’re not putting that on your face.’ I was going to give up, shave. But instead, we thought we could bring awareness and education.” 

 

With the Operation Entrepreneur Mentorship Program, Kevin was matched a mentor whom he described as “phenomenal.” Kevin explains that “when the pandemic was declared, my mentor would check in on us. We were in ‘survival mode.’ We’re still feeling the effects of the pandemic, but Educated Beards is now in its fourth year, and we have products in 3,500 locations in North America, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and South Africa.”

 

Foundational to Educated Beards is its focus on sustainability: “it’s a huge part of why we do what we do,” explains Kevin. “We use only natural and organic ingredients. All products are scented with essential oils that won’t cause harm to the environment. All packaging is glass to avoid leaching from plastics. We look at where the product is manufactured and ask who is doing the harvesting work?”

 

Kevin first heard of Prince’s Trust Canada’s Operation Entrepreneur program during his time in the military. “I remember seeing the Buy Veteran logo, and I’ve been a big advocate since then. Being part of the Buy Veteran community is quite impactful - more than a network, it’s friendships.”

 

Kevin’s advice to other Veterans considering following the same path – “entrepreneurship is like problem solving. You need to be comfortable in the uncomfortable – embracing the ‘suck’ like we say in the field – and the Buy Veteran community can help you with that. So have an open mind, always seek to learn, find mentors, and know that no questions are stupid.”