I'd say that my husband is a pretty typical New York guy. He wears Uniqlo jeans (APC are too expensive/painful in his opinion), Red Wing boots (again, he says that they are painful but this time is willing to make the sacrifice) and gets his hair cut at Persons of Interest, the Carroll Gardens barbershop that specializes in that popular guy style where the sides are super-closely cropped and the top is a little longer/floppy. My husband does not get his hair cut exactly like that, but he enjoys his experience there nonetheless.
All of that being said, he is not into fancy grooming products. The last time he was at POI—as he lovingly refers to it—he bought a bit of matte pomade, which he seems to want to use but probably won't. He is a fan of Big Sur Trail Crew liquid soap from Juniper Ridge, but only uses it on his face because it cost $35 and he would like it to last at least six months. Other than that—and a weird obsession with fancy-but-masculine-smelling bar soap that I also share—he's not going to get into products. No moisturizer. No beard oil. And definitely no anti-wrinkle cream.
But he does, like most men, require a good razor. Which is why I think Harry's, the new grooming line from Warby Parker founder Jeff Raider and Bain alum Andy Katz-Mayfield, might just work. "I think we’re conscious of the fact that lots of guys get overwhelmed with too much choice," says Raider. "The products have to have a very clear purpose and use."
For launch, that sole purpose is shaving. There are two razors on offer—the utilitarian Truman, $10, and the luxe Winston, $20—as well as an $8 shaving cream. (The difference between the razors? One is an aluminum mix, the other is pure aluminum.) The look is mid-century inspired without being retro—the sleek handle on the Truman razor comes in four colors: grayish blue, burnt orange, olive green or white. Nothing too harsh or flashy. Raider and Katz-Mayfield spent nearly a year finding the right suppliers and manufacturers to produce the line at a good value. (The razors are engineered in Germany, the cream was developed in a lab right outside of New York.)
The co-founders/co-CEOs have known each other for about a decade. They met at a college internship, then worked together at Bain and investment firm Charlesbank. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I've known Katz-Mayfield for nearly as long. His wife is a good friend, and over the years he's become one, too.) They stuck together until business school, when Raider attended Penn (subsequently launching Warby Parker) and Katz-Mayfield headed to Stanford.
Then a little bit of life happened, offering them the inspiration to work together yet again. "I had gone to the drugstore to buy razor blades," Katz-Mayfield explains. "And I got a not-so-great product for $20. I overpaid a significant margin for something that resembled a children's toy—all those bells and whistles, buzzers and vibrators. It didn't speak to me as a consumer. I thought, if we could make a really high quality product at a much more accessible price point, and really develop a meaningful direct relationship with our customers, then it could work."
Raider is still on the board of Warby Parker and spends about 10 hours a week working for the company—which recently raised another $41.5 million in funding—but he's been more focused on his own investments than the day-to-day workings of Warby for some time. When Katz-Mayfield came to him with the idea of bringing the principles of Warby Parker's business to the men's shaving industry, he quickly committed to the project. "Much like eyewear, a couple of companies essentially dominate the industry," Raider says. "The other thing that got us excited about the shaving space in general is that there are mass market brands that tend to be branded around tech performance, futurism, and then there are really, really expensive brands that harken back to the old world of shaving. What we found when we tried those expensive brands is that they didn't work very well."
The solution? Create a cool-looking product that is technologically advanced and affordable.
Of course, Raider and Katz-Mayfield will be relying heavily on the Warby halo effect, as well as the support of the menswear industry, to make Harry's something guys actually want to buy. But they're also betting on the quality of the product, along with the company's social mission. "It was important that we have a broader mission than selling products," says Katz-Mayfield. Adds Raider, "I think that companies have a responsibility to do good." Like Warby's "buy a pair, give a pair" program, Harry's has launched Give a Shave. With every pack of blades bought, the company donates one blade (or the equivalent in dollar value) to a do-gooder organization. First up is The Mission Continues, which supports veterans when they return from combat.
Also like Warby Parker, most of Harry's business will happen via Harrys.com, "direct to the consumer." But you will find the line at select stores and barbershops around the country--including, coincidently, Persons of Interest. I have a feeling my husband might partake.
Get your Harry's starter kit at Harrys.com. (Obviously the razors work for girls, too, but Raider and Katz-Mayfield do want to launch a women's-specific line in the future. And they promise it won't be pink. Or smell like spring break.)