Jeff Raider and Andrew Katz-Mayfield, the co-founders of a new startup called Harry’s.

On the Harry’s website, customers can spend $15 for the Truman kit, which includes the Truman handle, three blades, and a tube of cream.

Or, they can spend $25 for the Winston, a slightly more luxe version of the razor.

Harry’s blades are made by a 90-year-old company in Germany.

Their technique produces blades that are incredibly hard and sharp--and rare to come by, in the U.S.

A worker at the plant in Germany.

A stateside industrial designer developed the Harry’s handle, which is inspired by antique pens and butter knives.

The product design aims to hit a sweet spot between great design and affordability.

The head is replaceable, while the handle is designed to last.

The razors are nicer than the drug store brand, but not hugely expensive.

Replacement blades go for $2, and a single razor can be had for as little as $10.

Harry’s also developed its own cream, with help from a local cosmetics company.

Co.Design

Can The Warby Parker Model Reinvent Shaving, Too?

By going online to eliminate the middlemen, Warby Parker changed the eyewear industry. Now, one of its co-founders hopes to do the same for razors.

When Andrew Katz-Mayfield recently found himself spending 20 confusing minutes and $20 in the razor aisle at his local drugstore, he started thinking about how to remove the frustration (and the big spend) from the experience. Katz-Mayfield also happens to be a childhood friend of Jeff Raider, a co-founder of the online eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker who took a similar approach to simplifying the process of trying and buying glasses.

And now, 18 months and a great wooly mammoth logo later, we have Harry’s, a startup hoping to add a dose of charity and value to the shave industry. The company worked with an 80-year-old razor manufacturer in Germany and a stateside industrial designer to develop a handle, which is inspired by antique pens and butter knives. Online, customers can spend $15 for the Truman kit, which includes the Truman handle, three blades, and a tube of cream developed with a local cosmetics studio, or $25 for the Winston, a slightly more luxe version of the razor. Replacement blades go for $2, and a single razor can be had for as little as $10.

Similarly to Warby Parker, there’s a social responsibility angle, too—for every razor you buy, Harry’s will donate one to an organization that helps people "look good and feel good." Right now, it’s a nonprofit that helps soldiers reintegrate to life outside of a warzone.

Will the online-only, high-value business model translate to a lower margin product, like razors? Warby’s approach was so successful because it broke a long-standing monopoly with an innovative service model—in other words, it was a pain in the ass (and wallet) to buy glasses, and Warby offered a way to sidestep both the inconvenience and the cost by selling direct to consumers.

Harry’s faces more of a hurdle when it comes to the market for shaving tools, of which there are plenty of affordable options at every drugstore in town. They’re also not the first to take razors online—you may have heard of Dollar Shave Club, a site that made a viral splash last year. "They had a really funny video and it struck a chord," says Katz-Mayfield. "But they’re a retailer, and we actually design and manufacture our own products."

The profit margins on razorblades certainly aren’t as high as eyeglasses, but Raider and Katz believe there’s room for innovation, mainly in terms of the brand experience. Gillette might be as cheap, and Dollar Shave Club might be as convenient, but neither boast the design quality or social responsibility angle. And eventually Harry’s may take the brand offline and into barber shops and pharmacies. "We’re not trying to build a website," Katz-Mayfield says. "We’re trying to build a brand that will be distributed in lots of different ways over time."

[H/t Fast Company]

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8 Comments

  • Tobias

    As a recent adopter of the safety razor, I was expecting Harry's to have dived into that market. The environmental impact of discarding of a full metal blade is certainly lower than that of manufacturing and discarding a cartridge.

    The Harry's model can be successful though, because the safety razor is not a commonly known tool, and it has considerable barriers to entry: considerable learning curve, and increased shave time.

    Might be tough to break into the safety razor market, as there are already two great online stores that specialize in old school shaving:

    www.westcoastshaving.com
    www.classicshaving.com

  • Andy

    It's refreshing to see a design that doesn't look like you need to use it on a spaceship, or in a racing car.

  • Riley

    I'm with you  - The safety razor angle would have been ideal.  try looking into using a safety razor. I also suffer from a thick monster that hates to be shaved. With blades at nearly 5 cents a piece it's pretty easy to replace it when it's not as sharp as I need it to be.

    I wish these guys the best of luck, that razor industry is a joke and needs to be shaken up.

  • Brady J. Frey

    Great concept, although I wish they'd use something along the lines of a safety razor (hope for a straight razor, but as a user, I know that's a hell of a learning curve) where the blades are more recyclable and cheaper to use. That would help have a better impact for the greater good. 

    For Gary Orr, either of those might actually work for you, it helped me. Both will require using more of a 'reduction' premise rather than an immediate removal in one swipe, but the blades cut like butter and are cheap to use. There's forums online for those of us nerds who went back to old school methods. 

  • Gary Orr

    I hate shaving. My beard is a monster every morning and the issue is not the color of the handle or the scent of the shave creme. The issue is a sharp blade that stays sharp and a shaver that actually works. I have used every system and the Fusion 5 blade unit seems to work well enough. But, damn...its expensive. So..this is about designing a machine that can seamlessly remove facial hair with ease. Design one!

  • Omar Hashmy

    I agree. Just like Warby Parker, the success of Harry's will come down to whether the blades are as good as the much more $$$ ones. If they are AND they offer cool handle colors and delightful shave creme scents then Harry's will be a force.

  • Robert Farrell

    Great idea...and so insightful. I've been a Warby Parker eye glass customer from the beginning and this new product is very welcomed. Shaving blades have gotten so out of hand expensive its become one of those resentful purchases...I hate dropping cash fro the crappy blades all over the market and hate spending huge $$$ on the good ones. I hope this new buisness succeeds and slaps a cold hand on the existing exploitative product buisness out there.

    You can can quote me..Robert Farrell!