Here is our story.
Meet the Owners of Journey Seeker:
Before they had met, and in different parts of the country, both Chris and Kristen, within a matter of days, had lost the most important people in their lives. That loss catapulted each of them into a long journey of self discovery. While Chris's path took him on a homeless journey to Hurricane Ridge overlooking Mt. Rainier, Kristen's took her to the roof of Africa on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Kristen - Managing Partner
Kristen is the wildcard of the bunch, the unexpected Ace that takes the hand. Like the cold Northeastern wind from her home town in upstate New York she is the much needed breath of fresh air of the business. A business-minded scotch drinker and cigar smoker, she fits right in with this company but brings the unique female insight that Journey Seeker wouldn't be the same without. After losing her husband in Iraq, a 10-year journey led her to the peak of Kilimanjaro where she found peace and clarity.
Chris - Founder and President
Marine and Firefighter, Chris is a father & journey seeker and was born under a wandering star. Is it fun? Then yes! Is it difficult? Sign him up! He is always looking for new ways to grow, challenge himself, & be a better father, man & nerd. After his life was shattered, instead of picking up the pieces, he left on a rite of passage to find who he really was rather than who society told him to be. He returned and started Journey Seeker with the dream to help men do the same.
Why Journey Seeker was Founded:
In 2013, within a matter of two weeks, Chris, our founder, had lost his wife and two daughters.
"I had just finished grad school and my second wife left me to take care of our son while she pursued her affair. At the same time, I couldn't find substantial work, and while my son and I were eating rice and beans, I couldn't get the money together to pay child support for my daughters. Contempt was filed against me and I was facing jail time and I worried about what would happen to my son. My daughters' mother told me they wanted to be adopted, and if I signed the papers, I wouldn't have to pay child support anymore. I told her to fuck off, I would never do that. She insisted that if I did, she would stop the seven-year long battle with me and would let me see my girls as much as I wanted and I could even take them out of state to see my family. She even signed a civil agreement stating that she would no longer block communication and allow me to see them. So I had the choice of facing jail-time and not seeing any of my kids, or sign the papers and have them all. But I was duped. I signed the papers, and I haven't heard from them since."
In his feelings of loss and with $300 in his pocket, he made a 4-month road trip from Virginia to Olympic National Park in Washington. He lived a homeless life working temp jobs along the way for gas and food.
"I had lost everything but my son. I remember putting him in the living room to watch a Disney movie while I made him dinner. Alone in the kitchen, I lost it. Dropping to my knees I began to sob. His little feet were heard coming into the kitchen as he patted my back and said, "It's okay Daddy. Everything will be okay." I knew then that if I was to be a good dad to him, I needed to fix myself. So I sent him off with family and took a journey."
It was a journey to find himself and find God, and it was painful and hard - facing all that he had lost. Many adventures happened on that trip from beautiful sunsets, to hitchhikers and the homeless, to a couple days in jail. He was excited, terrified, full of hope, and full of sorrow. After three months, when standing in the snow-covered mountains of Olympic National Park with the sun setting behind him, he looked out over a cloudy Puget Sound. Seeing Mt. Rainier poking out of the clouds 200 miles away, he finally felt peace and knew it was time to go home.
It took another month of temp jobs and Chef Boyardee to get to his new home in North Carolina. During that month, Chris realized that this was the first time he knew who he was as a man and what that meant. This rite of passage helped him find his purpose and feel content - no longer lost. He realized that he was just one of thousands of people who feel the way he did at the start of his journey. Many feel stuck in a corporate world with so many responsibilities and so little time to themselves - people are being smothered and can't get a breath to figure out who they are.
"I've focused on so many paths in my life in hopes of money and success. But that's not truly what I want. I want to leave a legacy. Something left behind to help other men, to make my children proud. Something that, after I'm gone, will continue to help and inspire others."
Journey Seeker believes that men and women need a rite of passage, a journey. Maybe not what Chris did, but even a hike out to a local mountain or lake, a fishing trip, a night out with friends where there is more meaning than the drink in front of you. Not that we don't love craft beer, bourbon, and scotch!
Like so many others, each of us at Journey Seeker have gone through some serious hurts, amazing victories, hard journeys and story-worthy adventures. We've realized that our corporate and genteel world has robbed many of who they are and aspire to be - we want to change that. We've been inspired by other companies such as Art of Manliness, Ransomed Heart Ministries, and EastWest Bottlers.
One day over beers Chris and two of his friends were talking about camping and hiking the Appalachian Trail. They loved the smells of the outdoors - the trees and campfire, the earth and rain. It was irritating that they couldn’t have those smells, let alone a beard, in their offices… and that’s when their line of beard products were born. Our Campfire Beard Balm (the flagship) was a way to bring the smells of the outdoors to a beard while keeping it soft and manageable to satisfy the expectations of the non-outdoors world.
We've grown and matured since Journey Seeker started and with the addition of Kristen as a partner, we have found new ways to help. A part of our company split off to become it's own non-profit called Jerks for Jewels and we now send a portion of all sales to support their cause. At Journey Seeker, we want men, regardless of where they come from or where they're going, to reclaim their version of masculinity. If that takes a journey to prove it to yourself, then cheers, skol and huzzah to you; we’re in your corner!
We get asked a lot.. YES WE DO strongly believe in gender equality... we just focus on men's health and issues. Though we choose the mountains over the valleys, this doesn't mean one is more important than the other. We also love puns!