#UnlockYourCity: Exploring Joburg with the Bonafide Beards crew

Shalini Tewari
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 Bonafide Beards

With a slogan like, ‘We don’t make beards cool, we keep ‘em that way’, the company and crew of Bonafide Beards based in Joburg are a cut above the rest. This crew is full of good humour, creativity and adventure. They give off a sense of down-to-earth genuineness, and that a day spent in their company would be a blast.

We caught up with co-owner, Joe Fleming, to find out what makes him tick, where he hangs his hat after a long day of work, his favourite food spots, and how his story began.

Quirky beginnings

What were you doing before you and your wife, Monique, started Bonafide Beards?

I was actually living in America just over three years ago doing corporate communications and public relations. My wife and I met on Instagram while I was living in San Diego, California. We hit it off extremely well and after a visit to South Africa to meet her, I decided to pack up my life in the US and move here to marry her.

Shortly after arriving in SA, I started working in a motorcycle shop to help pay the bills. It was there that I started to really grow out my beard. Due to a lack of products in SA, my wife, Monique, decided to make some beard grooming products as a gift for me (Monique claims the products were made more for her pleasure rather than Joe's). From that gift spawned Bonafide Beards.

Businesses with a twist

You have your fingers in a few pies. How long have your businesses been running?

Bonafide Beards has been running for just over two years. We have an online store, ship worldwide, we have stockists all over South Africa and are also looking at expanding our brand outside of SA.

Bonafide Barbers, at 66 6th Street in Parkhurst, is only 10 months old. We finally got a physical place where our clients and community can get a real sense of who we are and what we love.

Bonafide Moto Co has been a passion project of mine for just over a year that my business partner, Alan Shenton, and I have been growing. We’ve got a community of motorcycle enthusiasts, we host events, consult with various brands, go on adventures (like the #BonafideMotoAdventure) and also do quite a bit of production and content creation of the things we do.

What are the perks and challenges to running businesses in Joburg?

What I love most about running businesses like these is that we get to make our own path. We don’t model our business by what anyone else has done and rather focus on the things we would want as a consumer.

What kind of vibe can people expect at your barber shop?

Come in and check it out yourself! Honestly, our barber shop is one of a kind. We’ve got a great coffee roaster next door – Urban Grind Coffee Roasters, unique atmosphere, selection of craft beer for our clients waiting for a cut, and our staff is amazing. It’s quite an experience!

Bonafide Explorations

Where are your top three places to eat in the city?

BGR in Rosebank. My mouth waters for those burgers on a daily basis.

Grove Green in Parkhurst when I need to get something healthy. I’m a sucker for some quinoa.

Nonna Mia’s in Parkhurst for an easy dinner meal for the family. I’m an easy guy.

Where do you go when you want to escape the city?

Anywhere with some twisty roads and a little bit of dirt to go ride on. Magaliesburg area is always a nice close getaway.

What types of activities do you like doing in and around Joburg?

My family and I love Bounce. Such a great exercise and fun activity for all of us. We’ve got a few dogs as well so we’re either at Emmarentia or Verity Park taking them for a walk.

Where do you like to go out during the weekends?

I’m pretty low-key on the weekends after a long week, so you’ll rarely find me out at night, but I’m always keen on a nice cold beer from Mad Giant in town.

A photo posted by Mad Giant (@madgiantbeer) on

Where are your favourite markets in Joburg?

There are so many now! My wife and I do enjoy the Market on Main in Maboneng. Try their dim sum!

SEE: Be sure to celebrate with Maboneng's Market on Main on their 5th anniversary

Where are some cool hangouts that you frequent?

We’ve got a group that meets every Saturday morning at the new spot on Bolton Road and Jan Smutts, The Collection. It's a great new restaurant that just opened up with outdoor seating and open air. There's quite a lot of action around there in the afternoon.

What other cities do you love to visit and why?

I love finding new treasures of South Africa on our adventures. We’ve recently spent quite a bit of time in the Midlands area and it’s pretty amazing.

SEE: A Meander through the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands

Do you have any secret spots that you’d be willing to share with our readers?

Calitzdorp. Last year I did a cross-country trip on my motorcycle with a friend and we happened to stay at the Port Wine Guest House. The owner, Pierre, was really awesome to us and when we came back toward home, we decided to stay again with them.

Calitzdorp is one of those amazing small towns along the back roads to Cape Town that I don’t think gets visited as often as it should. It's a longer route, but much preferred over the highway.

SEE: Five good reasons to travel to Calitzdorp for their annual winter Port & Wine Festival

Do you travel out of SA and if so, where do you love to go?

I’ve yet to experience surrounding countries to SA. I travel back to the US quite a bit, and recently did a family skiing trip to Austria. That was amazing!

Beyond Bonafide

What is the Bonafide Moto Adventure?

The #BonafideMotoAdventure is a series of adventures by Bonafide Moto Co that will showcase the places we love in South Africa as well as surrounding areas. Our most recent one was the Sani Pass adventure.

Obviously this last adventure was on motorcycles, but that’s just the way of getting there. For us, we love any type of adventure that explores new places and experiences. We want to document and share our adventures with others in hopes to inspire them to get out and explore what’s around them!

What motivates you every day?

The thought of being able to provide a stable and secure future for my family.

What activities inspire you?

Riding my motorcycle inspires me everyday. I want to travel all over South Africa on my bike, and to share my experiences with the world.

Visit the gang at Bonafide Beards and follow their Bonafide Moto Co adventures!

Follow Shalini on Instagram.

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