Gwilym Pugh once struggled with excessive weight and dwindling self-confidence — but that’s all changed for the 33-year-old Londoner, whose beard and dramatic weight-loss has catapulted his modeling career.
The formerly “shy” insurance salesman gained an international following thanks to his distinctive facial hair. He even caught the attention of David Beckham, who snapped him up as the face of his whisky and grooming brands.
Pugh, who previously operated a life insurance company from a spare room in his home, began piling on weight after a knee injury limited his mobility. Over a five-year span, Pugh’s health continued to plummet — the long hours behind a desk took its toll.
“I was pretty overweight, working 12 hours a day, plagued with injuries which meant I couldn’t train at all,” he explained to the Daily Mail. “The business was doing OK, but I decided I needed to get my life in order and wanted to get healthy again.”
He went on to lose a whopping 98 lbs after switching up his diet, ditching takeout foods and finding sustainable ways to exercise.
Today, the Cardiff-born model enjoys a thriving career. He’s graced the pages of GQ magazine and worked with international brands including Belstaff, Diesel and Bud Light.
Pugh can thank his barber for helping his career success — it was the local stylist who encouraged the model to grow out his now-famous beard. The look led Pugh to set up an Instagram account which boosted his following and helped him get spotted by Welsh tailor, Nathan Palmer.
Pugh, who is now signed with top London agency AMCK Models, was then photographed for a coffee table book, 100 Beards, and was part of the Red Hot Photography project — two gigs that helped him solidify his career.
“Having worked in finance for years, the opportunity to work with creative people and travel around the world is amazing,” Pugh said. “But you forget how nuts it is, it all becomes normal.”
“I think I’m lucky I got into this profession at the age that I did. I try not to get caught up in it all and my girlfriend helps a great deal with that.”
Also a talented photographer, Pugh hope to make his own mark on the world with his pictures, taken while traveling the globe.