It sounds hyperbolic to say that growing a beard can change your life, but for Gwilym Pugh, it’s the truth. By the time he was 21 years old, Pugh had established an insurance company in his bedroom. While it was successful, the sedentary lifestyle (compounded by a bad knee) caused him to weigh 280 pounds.
“At that time I was pretty overweight, working 12 hours a day, plagued with injuries which meant I couldn’t train at all,” the now 33-year-old recalls. “The business was doing okay, but I decided I needed to get my life in order and wanted to get healthy again.” Around that same time, he started a folk-country band with his friends. And what do you when you start a group like that? Grow a beard! It wasn’t so much a suggestion from his barber, but a friendly order. “He told me if I was playing the guitar in a folk band, I had to have a beard.”
The beard and a commitment to clean up his diet began to transform Pugh’s body. But the thing that really helped his weight loss success was quitting his desk job. “It was the best thing for my health as I stopped sitting for 9-10 hours a day.” Pugh estimates that it took him between four and five years to gradually lose the weight. He now keeps an eye on his steps to ensure he stays active.
Pugh joined Instagram after shedding the extra pounds, and this decision is what cemented his new life. “I started using Instagram as a way of social networking and growing my profile and that of the band,” he explained. “It was there I was spotted and shortly after chosen to be the face of Nathan Palmer's 2015 collection—which gave me a massive boost in confidence. Before that, I was pretty shy.”
From there, things escalated quickly and launched Pugh into a full-fledged male modeling career. He’s now signed to a top London agency called AMCK Models, and his beard is so impressive that it was featured in a book, aptly called 100 Beards. One of his newest projects is serving as an ambassador for David Beckham’s male grooming brand, House 99.
In addition to modeling, Pugh is also an aspiring photographer. Follow his modeling pursuits and photographic adventures on his popular Instagram account.