He said he has occasional mental health issues and social challenges: "I am on the autism scale, so scent has always been an obsession."
He has had 100 different jobs, including shaman, massage therapist ... and drug dealer. "I spent my 22nd birthday in the county jail, and my parents bailed me out." (Newton said he turned his life around and the judge cut him a break.)
So how did he end up making hair products? "The Bearded Bastard was, funny enough, kind of a joke," Newton said. He was doing fine art photography and having trouble keeping his own mustache in place, so he created a wax.
"My friends were like, 'If you don't keep making this, we are going to kick your" (here he paused) "… derriere."
Newton developed a recipe he liked — start-up costs were almost nothing — and he began selling products on Etsy. "The Etsy just started exploding."
That was 2011. Now TBB is sold in about 200 stores and online. It has eight employees, and sales are closing in on $1 million. A lot of the success has gone to "brand evangelists" to whom Newton sent free product. One is Isaiah Webb, aka "Incredibeard," who has 700,000 fans on Facebook. "He is an amazing friend, and a true artist," Webb said of Newton. "Jeremiah's products are simply the best on the market."
But when you're an unusual person like Jeremiah Newton, success isn't always a positive development.
"Success is a weird thing," he said inside his showroom in an Austin, Texas, strip mall. "Your life sometimes takes on a sort of characteristic that is not always pleasant ... and it's a lot of hard freaking work."
Newton also said hiring employees was more difficult than he expected — "it takes building that person up for upwards of six months." He got hives during The Bearded Bastard's second year, and he had stress dreams about doing his taxes. "How the hell do you do taxes when your company grows 600 percent in one year?"
It's a nice problem to have.
Newton is now releasing a line of products for women's hair and beauty called My Dear, and he takes pleasure in mentoring others with lessons he's learned during his unique journey.