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In Conversation with Jimmy Niggles

interview by annie brown

Last week, QT Canberra hosted an evening of men’s style amongst the glorious portraits of Mr Bock Elbank, an exhibition we have displayed in our foyer until next month. There was whisky, there was beer, there were free touch ups in The Barber Shop and fantastic food. But there was one element that really made the night special- the inimitable talking to us about his charity Beard Season.

We recently had the chance to sit down with the very busy Jimmy Niggles to chat about life, beard season ambassadors and his favourite haunts around Canberra:

AB: Hi Jimmy!
JN: G’day Annabel always great to be here.

AB: From what it seems, you’re a busy man! What gets you up in the morning?
And what’s been piquing your interest of late?
JN: Always busy my friend.
It’s been pretty full-on balancing work and charity but there’s a lot of blokes out there with a lot more on their plate so I enjoy the challenge.
I’ve just come back from visiting one of the biggest beards in business, Sir. Richard Branson. Someone I’ve always wanted to spend some time with. We talked about scaling, time management and real impact. As well as the importance of fun. Such a top gentleman. Really keen to learn more from people like that. Plus he has an island. That’s always a great goal.

AB: We are great supporters of your charity Beard Season here at QT Canberra Can you explain how it came about and who’s involved?
JN: So, one of our great mates died from melanoma.
His name was Wes Bonny and he was only 26. We went to uni over the hill here at John XXIII College. One of the best. Tragically, he had a spot on his neck which he had no idea was as bad as it was. By the time he had it seen to the melanoma had spread into his system, and he died of a brain tumour. It was horrific. And hit us really hard. At his wake, we put our heads together and came up with this idea called Beard Season. Where every winter we’d grow our beards, get a skin check, and use them to start conversations – encouraging as many people as we could to visit their GP or dermatologist and get a check – because no one was doing that…
Melanoma, while one of the deadliest cancers there is – is also one of the easiest to treat if it’s found early. So we thought this is what we need to focus on. Everyone says they want to get a check but never get around to it, so we thought if we can convince someone to make the commitment to grow a beard – we can convince them to get a check. ANNND, the most at risk are blokes, aged 18-45. The same people we want to take part. Now, we have tens of thousands of ambassadors all over the world. And we save an average of a life a week. Y’all should get involved.

AB: Where would you like to see Beard Season head in the future?
JN: I want to establish a free skin check program at footy games, beaches, festivals and other big events. Also getting corporates involved. Making it part of their yearly health check program. Also just making beards more and more epic. I want people to wear them with pride every winter, and know how to use them. There’s been an alarming rise in the ‘trend beard’ which I want to help steer towards a more ‘life saving’ responsibility.
To help this, I am planning to sell my beard for a million dollars this year. Shaving it off in one piece and mounting it in a glass case. An artwork.
A testament to how powerful a beard can be. This money will help us make Beard Season a solid, global charity. A bastion for beards everywhere.

AB: When you’re looking for inspiration, where do you go to find it?
JN: I surf pretty much every day. I also try and shower every day too.
Good ideas come from water. And scotch. Mixed with friends they’re even better (perhaps not the shower though). I should read a lot more than I do. But I’ve really been enjoying podcasts more and more. Probably the best inspiration is getting yourself in situations you’d not usually be in. Breaking your routine. Meeting new people. Doing things that challenge you. And generally being open. Not afraid to ask questions. Try it. I guarantee you’ll be swimming in new ways to overcome challenges.

AB: Now, as a man sporting a glorious beard yourself, do you have any bearded icons?
JN: Our Beard Season Ambassadors are my icons.
The ones in the portraits out there. Amazing people.
People who are bearding with purpose. Using them to save lives.
Branson is one of them. Check out @BeardSeason on Instagram. There’s a heap of them. Every day I’ll meet more. It’s super humbling. A lot of people look in the mirror and want themselves to be it all. That’s awesome. But be inspired by others. By knowing them you’re up there by association. Make contact. Learn and add to it.

AB: We love having you here in Canberra! Do you have any favourite haunts while you’re in town?
JN: Well the QT obviously. I used to work here while I was at Uni so I always love coming back.
We used to be sponsored by Mooseheads and have some pretty wild nights there. Phoenix and the glorious Knightsbridge Penthouse – my friend Bri’s baby. I’m heading to the rugby tomorrow to watch my old team Uni Owl’s play. Might walk up Mt. Ainsley. Eat at Edgars. I’m also keen to check out my mate’s brewery – Capitol. But I’m keen to see what’s new. This city is changing so much. I’m happy to be led astray…

AB: Jimmy, thank you for your time!
JN: Thank you!!!

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