Hasan Hai and the NLBMC are back for another hunky 2019 calendar, hoping this year they can empower men to become meaningfully engaged in violence prevention
After the remarkable success of the 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club’s (NLBMC) campaign, the MerB’ys are back to do it all over again in 2019.
The 2018 campaign, which revolved around a calendar of bearded, mermaid-tailed Newfoundlanders posing by the sea, at a barbershop, and in a pumpkin patch, raised over $300,000 for local mental health organization Spirit Horse NL, a service that builds mental health and life skills for children and adults as they ride and care for horses.
Creator of the MerB’ys, Hasan Hai, says that the project was intended to break down barriers and promote a broader definition of masculinity. He said the “silly project” went from an idea, to a printed calendar, and eventually became a global hit, all while working towards helping the greater good.
“The MerB’ys calendar is an extension of our club, NLBMC, values. Showing masculinity to be a broader spectrum than it is traditionally shown as. We can be vulnerable, emotional, whimsical and have fun all at the same time,” Hai expressed in an interview with The Newfoundland Herald.
“Our first meeting in January 2017 was just two people, myself included. We had fish n’ chips at The Duke and hung out for an hour or so before calling it a day. Over the next few months, we grew at a very modest rate. A few more people showed up every month until we had a dozen or so. By July when we marched in the Pride parade,” Hai explained.
“In August 2017, I put out an open call via my personal Facebook account when the idea of the calendar first came to me. That resulted in a dramatic spike in local interest in the club. Dozens of people began reaching out to us wanting to learn more, and it has continued to grow since then. We went from zero to a very powerful and well-known name within this province, across the country, and even internationally in a matter of months!”
LOCAL TO INTERNATIONAL
Initially, Hai and the rest of the MerB’ys admittedly only expected to sell somewhere between 250 to 300 copies. In early November, Hai reached out to Buzzfeed Canada, an independent digital media company delivering news and entertainment across platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, and more.
“They immediately got back to me for an interview,” Hai said.
“Their article and video went viral and pushed us to places we never could have reached otherwise. National media jumped all over us, as did international in the US and all around the world.”
So, what do the bearded, tailed hunks have in store for us in 2019? Another juicy calendar, of course.
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This year, Hai says the plan is to include people and places from all over the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, having recently taken a seven-day road trip from St. John’s to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, with 41 fresh new MerB’ys to be featured.
“The production value of this years’ calendar is going to be exponentially higher than last years as we actually had some semblance of a plan this time around, including bringing in the photography firm of Roth & Ramberg,” Hai shared.
“Our club has also moved to a new level of organization, having registered as a non-profit and formed an executive board which meets monthly. I have a great team working with me to create monthly volunteer and social events, such as Haircuts for Hope where local barbers and hairdressers provide free haircuts for people in our community who need it.”
As for this years’ charity of choice, Hai says the selection process involved almost 40 local charitable organizations, with NLBMC coming to the conclusion that 2019’s charity of choice will be Violence Prevention Newfoundland and Labrador, a coalition of Violence Prevention organizations across the province. “Their proposed project is titled ‘Deconstructing Masculinity – Engaging Men in Violence Prevention.’ This project will challenge negative attitudes of masculinity and consequently empower men to become meaningfully engaged in violence prevention”.
Pre-order your copy of the 2019 MerB’ys calendar now at nlbmc.com, follow the official “Mermob’ile” and social media posts using the hashtag #MerBys2019 to keep up-to-date with their progress and announcements.
For more by Krystyn Decker, click here.