A while back I came across an Israeli company that sells shaving razors: XBlade (<– warning: site is in Hebrew and automatically plays an annoying video). In an article about them their founders talk about taking on Gillette – the international brand market leader who’s blades are obscenely expensive. I liked the idea and one particular detail caught my attention – the blades are manufactured in Germany … in a old and established company called Feintechnik.
Since I don’t live in Israel anymore I began a search to fin Feintechnik blades in Europe where I can easily get my hands on them. My research led me to Harry’s. Harrys tells a similar story – taking on Gillette … but there the story takes on an interesting twist. Apparently one of the founders of Harrys is also one of the founders of WarbyParker – a company I read about who took on the establised market of prescriptions glasses … I was impressed by their story at the time. The story of Harry’s is just as impressive.
The founders apparently raised ~$120m venture capital of which ~$100m went to buying an established German company … Feintechnik. The rest seems to have gone to creating … Harrys. Everything I have met from them has been immaculate: a simple and effective product line, a clean and sharp web presence with some excellent purposeful user experience design. I was really excited … but they are only available in the USA. So I wrote them (seeing how they now own Feintechnik AND knowing that other sub-brands, like XBlade, exist) to ask about similar products that may be available in Europe. I got a friendly and genuinely caring response within a few hours.
I was moved and impressed … and not just about the response and shaving products (shaving is a very small part of my life). As someone who lives closer to nature and having become more aware of ecology and sustainability I tend to be exposed to a lot of negative information (we aren’t doing a very good job in relating to and caring about the environment in which we all live together) which can sometimes be challenging to contain without being overwhelmed. In that context Harry’s is a glimpse of an exciting and promising future. This is a new generation of business and business people. They are demonstrating that quality can be made in an affordable and caring way. They are evidence that there is hope for new flavors of doing founded on care and being in service (rather than pushing cheap products with shiny branding for abusive prices).
I was also entertained and moved in witnessing the different cultural biases between XBlade (the Israeli brand) and Harry’s. I was aligned with the affordable-razors-anti-Gillette story of the Israeli brand but turned off by, what I perceived to be, its blunt and crude cultural settings. I was relieved by the ambience at Harry’s. That too speaks, at least potentially, to an evolutionary story. I doubt that the designers of either brand consciously set out on an evolutionary journey. But when the two are seen side by side (and you know Hebrew) they scream an evolutionary story.
The representative from Harry’s still hasn’t found a European brand for me. But amazingly she is still trying. It’s been almost a month and I still get an occassional email from her reminding me that she is still searching. Meanwhile I am looking forward to getting my hands on Harry’s products via a contact in the USA 🙂
Well done Harry’s … inspiring work!