Fuzzy love: Manchester Bristlr creator’s ‘joke’ dating app for beard lovers gets serious

Like many other glorious ideas, Bristlr wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, but the idea has quickly grown on people and now it is really taking shape.

Bristlr is a new dating app, in fact, it’s THE new dating app. Finally there is a challenger to Tinder’s vice-like grip on the mobile dating scene.

The idea is simple – ‘beard-centric dating’ – put people with beards together with people who love beards.

Where else can bearded people connect with beard-loving people? Nowhere. Nowhere, except for Bristlr. It’s one gigantic, fuzzy community.

GROWING ON US: Bristlr is spreading warm, fuzzy love across the face of the earth

“It started very much as a joke idea I posted to Facebook,” said John Kershaw, Bristlr’s Manchester-based creator.

“I made a fake signup page and to my surprise lots of people started signing up!

“I had enough interest from that to justify making a rough prototype, which was launched in October, and it’s just grown from there.”

So how does it work? Bristlr asks you if you have a beard. You can then search for people near you who have beards, or who are looking for people with beards.

If you ‘like’ each other then, quite like Tinder, a messaging service opens up between the two of you.

There’s even a ‘beard rating’ feature, where bearded users are ranked according to the quality of their facial hair – perhaps the most crucial statistic of all for someone looking to start a bearded relationship.

It’s fair to say the popularity of facial hair has enjoyed serious growth – excuse the pun – in recent years.

Maybe it was Movember that kicked off the craze. Maybe it’s because a truckload of A-Z list celebrities decided to latch on – Jared Leto, Zach Galifianakis, Ricki Hall to name but a few.

But what is it about the beard that’s making so many people download the app?

John, 28, said: “Beards are awesome and Bristlr has a really easy story to tell. Plus, the service itself actually works. It’s a new idea (beard-centric dating), which piques a lot of people’s interests.

“Bristlr is a lot more relaxed than most other dating apps. There’s a tongue-in-cheek vibe, which carries on into people’s interactions with each other.

“We also have a much more even balance of people with beards to people without. Pretty much every other dating site out there has a huge majority of guys. It turns out if you limit your gents to only those with beards, the numbers balance out around 50/50.

“We’re also a lot more upfront about your interactions with other people – we tell you if somebody copy-pasted the same message they sent to you, to other people, for example.”

MM was keen to ask John, who’s clearly an authority on facial fuzz, why the ‘beard movement’ has enjoyed such rejuvenation.

Looking back it’s becoming increasingly clear that 2014 was the year of the beard – but what’s 2015 got in store for the booming facial fuzz?

BEARD-CENTRIC DATING: Bristlr boasts a more tongue-in-cheek approach to romance

“Growth! And maybe a nice trim every now and again. I would never have predicted it’d get this big this fast, so planning more than a few weeks in advance isn’t something I really do,” he said.

“I’m hoping the message of Bristlr continues to spread far and wide, and the platform can keep expanding and adding more and more of the features people are asking for.

“In many ways, beards have never left us. The new wave of beards comes very much from the alternative hipster-style, which has really started to spread. Pretty much everyone looks good in a beard, so it’s not a hard sell.

“I do get messages pretty much daily from people who’ve had great dates. A lot of people are having a lot of success with Bristlr, which makes me very happy.

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