Making The Blade
The rise of the disposable razor industry has been so wildly astronomic that the so-called “razor-and-blade model” is actually taught in business schools. In short: Sell the razor cheaply and keep ‘em coming back for the blades. That’s meant a boom for consumer product companies, but it hasn’t necessarily led to great products—which is where the idea for Harry’s came from. Following a good old-fashioned bad consumer experience, founder Jeffrey Raider wondered, “How could I do it better?” With a fair bit of experience undercutting giants to offer products inexpensively directly to consumers (Raider, along with a few Wharton classmates, was behind the eyewear line Warby Parker), he came up with a new model: Offer razors, blades, and shave cream—for men, to start, with women on the horizon (although Raider notes that research indicates 30 to 50 percent of women use men’s razors anyway)—appealingly packaged, affordably priced, and, at least in this tester’s experience, as good or better than anything easily available on the market (although those shave connoisseurs who can detail the fine points of a straight-razor shave, and pit Freemans barbers against Blind Barbers and so on, would likely have plenty to add to the conversation). Harry’s handles, in chrome-plated Winston ($20) and plastic Truman ($10), are heavier than most for a better fit in the hand, with a rounded base to provide a better pivot, a hinged head for razor mobility, and a “saddle” to rest your finger on for better motor control. Five-blade steel heads, produced by a German company with 90 years behind it, will cost $2 (less for larger orders). And Harry’s paraben- and sulfate-free cream contains the requisite list of botanicals (coconut oil, cucumber, peppermint, licorice root, et al.) to sooth skin while prepping it for a close shave. I found it a little less foaming than I’d have liked, but for $8 a tube, I can live with that. Will Harry’s enjoy Warby-like success? (The latter just got a $41.5 million investment, and is said to be in talks with Google to design its Google Glass; Raider still sits on its board.) That remains to be seen. But I, for one, have a new razor—and they’ve got a new client for blades.
Available March 2013 at www.harrys.com.