Though women spent $1 billion on razors and blades last year (compared to the $2.3 billion U.S. men spent during the same period), it’s still an industry ripe for the kind of disruption recently ushered in by the likes of Bevel, Dollar Shave Club, and Harry’s.
At least according to Karen Young. Founder of the Brooklyn-based startup Oui Shave, Young launched the first shave club for women, by women, back in October. As her promotional copy touts: “Tired of the pink disposable razor options that traumatize our skin and wallets, “Oui” have taken matters into our own hands.”
Young tells MidMarketPulse she, like many entrepreneurs before her, decided to tackle a huge problem by creating the solution herself. “Almost every woman I know, myself included, was frustrated with the results of shaving: ingrown hairs, razor burn, and marred skin,” she explains. What was worse, she says, was the lack of options beyond chemical shaving foams and after care products that “added insult to injury.” Not to mention the costly, yet cheaply produced razors commonly found on store shelves that only lasted for one or two shaves. “It was incredibly frustrating, and after years of watching grooming companies cater to men, I felt women deserved a better option,” she says.
With the proliferation of men’s shave clubs aimed at grabbing a piece of the market, Young didn’t need to reinvent the wheel, just provide better quality options delivered right to a customer’s home.
For its part, Dollar Shave Club attracted attention and sales in part thanks to a comedic sendup of the startup’s plan to overthrow the industry that went viral on YouTube. By selling blades on a subscription plan starting at a buck a month (the razor itself is free) the two year old company has amassed over 650,000 customers and expects to triple its sales to $60 million this year. For comparison, Procter & Gamble, which still controls men’s grooming owned 59% of the razor and blade category with sales (including soap, deodorant, and hair products, too) in excess of $2.4 billion. That number is expected to decline as more men cultivate beards.
Young’s Oui Shave is taking a slightly different approach. For starters, the company offers German engineered safety razors, one in “14K gold” dubbed “Carrie” for $65 and a chrome version called “Samantha” for $50, so named for two of the four women stars of HBO’s “Sex and the City.”
For the uninitiated, the original design of the safety razor is over a century old and became popular over its predecessor, the straight razor, thanks to Gillette which was awarded a contract to provide US soldiers fighting in World War I with the razor and blades for their field kits. It works by providing a buffer between the skin and the razor blade which lays inside the head of the razor.
Oui Shave also sells shaving serums which Young claims “is formulated to heal and repair skin, as well as offer supreme hydration.” You can purchase the serum separately for $16 or get a package plan according to your needs that includes a set of blades and replenishment of the serum. “I shave for hot dates” for example, is a 3-month package with 10 blades for $30. Daily shavers are in for $90 for the entire year. Shipping is free.
Though she’s not offering actual numbers, Young says since October, Oui Shave has had a 30% growth in sales. The profit margins are “healthy,” she asserts. “Our plans for growth include retail expansion in 2015 and new products offered online as well,” Young says, in addition to shooting videos that teach women “the art of a better shave.”