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DE Shaver Interview - Wimbouman

Luc

"To Wiki or Not To Wiki, That's The Question".
Some of you might be aware that there are a few Straight Shaver interviews that were posted not too long ago. Josh did a great job working on those and I personnally love those. The team was thinking that we should extend those interview to DE shavers also. Wim volunteer to be the first DE interviewee as we only had Vendors and straight shavers so far (complete list here: http://wiki.badgerandblade.com/index.php/Interviews). I am really happy to post this interview and if you have any questions for Wim, please post in this thread! :thumbup1:

Who are you? And where are you located?
My name is Wim Bouman and I live in the city of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I was born in Enschede, a city in the eastern part of The Netherlands, where I studied Marketing Management. I got interested in the workings of organizations and so I decided to do another study, this time in Amsterdam. In 1994 I graduated as an Organization Sociologist, found my first job and stayed there.

I play trumpets and flugelhorn in jazz bands (and have even been the designated Official Bugler of Badger & Blade once). I am also a Research Fellow at at the Amsterdam Business School, where we are studying ordering and social media. Nowadays I am a consultant at a grid company in The Netherlands, working on assignments in strategy, organization and management. And I recently graduated in a course on Public Affairs Management.

How do you take your coffee?
Black and Italian. Preferably doppio or ristretto. And an occasional cappuccino.

What happened that made you seek a better shave, or if the chicken came before the egg, how did you find B&B?
In fact, I can remember that moment quite precisely. One day, I found myself at home and very happy with my purchase: a big blister of Gillette Sensor cartridges. I got a good deal on that: four packs for only 64 Euros. As I was working my way through all that packaging material I realized: this is not the way to go. As a utility company, we try our best to make the world a bit more sustainable and greener – and here I am with all this throw away stuff, the aerosol cans and the plastic handles. It just had to stop, even more after I realized the cost of all this. A bit of searching around the Internet revealed the existence of some shaving related sites, and in no time, I found myself becoming a member on B&B.

What was it that held your interest?
I found the site to be quite a phenomenon. After all, how many types of razors are there really? And how much can one say about soaps and creams? So, at first, I was intrigued by those discussions and dialogues, some of which seem repetitive to the untrained eye. The ‘what’s the deal with MWF’ – questions. Or the ‘what is the best brush, cream, razor’- questions. Or the Williams threads, always a fun read. But on a better glance, I discovered the high level of civilization around here, the willingness to help the newbies, the humor and sometimes the dead-serious topics, the fun, the little games we play, the clownery and overall, the great spirit and helpful attitude of all our great members. Not to forget some of the group buys. And this is not an anonymous forum also; seasoned members such as Luc, Slaglerock, Mama Bear, jakespoppy, beginish, TopGumby, jkh, johnniegold, Darjeeling Express, brianw, mretzloff, SliceofLife, and Jim amongst many others started very soon after my first posts to react, to help, to discuss, to show me the ropes and make the time on B&B well spent. It is so nice for a newbie not to be ignored!

It didn’t take long to become a contributor also. And then the ADs kicked in, inevitably. I think there are a lot of interesting vendors and products that really contribute to the wet shaving experience, whether it is a traditional Portuguese brush maker, a traditional British barber and perfumer or a modern American artisanal soap maker. They all add to the wonderful journey, as did a quick pilgrimage to the three T’s in London. Recently, we decided to be even more adventurous and make our own brushes (link: http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=111765)and shaving soap (link: http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=189186). Our brushes are fine, we shall see how we do with the soap.

If I remember from your posts, you tried a straight razor but mostly use a DE; What did you start with?
After scouring the forum for information about a starter set – on second thought, there is a lot to say about razors and other gear – I decided for an European set that got some favorable reviews then. So, I got myself a Muhle R106, which is a black handled R89. It came from the Muhle web shop with a pack of Derbys and I also received an indulgence (the first of many to come) in the form of a custom Muhle olivewood / silvertip shaving brush. Soaps seemed too tricky, so I also ordered a Proraso starter set of pre-shave cream and shaving cream. The Muhles were a bit rare then as Merkur seemed to be the prevailing gear of choice that time. I found the R106 to be a perfect razor; just changed my shaving routine from the cartridge to the DE and basically never looked back. I had no problems whatsoever making the transition, I just enjoyed the experience. I did not dare to order the open comb at first, but again the forum came to the rescue and nowadays I am a big fan of OC’s now.

After the Muhles, I developed an interest in the Gillettes. Especially the Fatboy (there once was even a social group called the Fatboy Owners Group on B&B). So, once in a while on the B/S/T, if the price is reasonable, I buy a nice vintage Gillette and add it to my little collection of shaving history.

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My collection of DE razors.

A big list of my inventory is in the wiki. (link: http://wiki.badgerandblade.com/index.php/User:Wimbouman)

Shave Cream & Soaps? What did you find that worked well from those initial trials?
The Proraso worked like a dream. I still like the stuff, although I more or less switched to soaps very soon after I started. I found the Proraso so much richer, much more protective and slicker than the very expensive foam in a can I had before. And it also added a touch of class and sophistication, way better than the ordinary stuff from the supermarkets here. I have never economized on my shaving gear, but this inexpensive tub of cream easily outperformed my high end shaving gels. I thought it was amazing. This was some years ago, and I haven’t touched the cans or the cartridges ever since – they are still in my storage.

From those trials I went two ways: more creams and soaps. The creams trail led me to the Portuguese creams sold by Leon; I think that Top Secret, Veleiro and O Melhor provide excellent shaves. And the classic, green Palmolive, of course. It is quite a big bang for your buck, in my humble opinion. In the end, I love soaps better, they are more fun and give a great sense of tradition. A small order and some samples from Mama Bear kicked off a severe case of SAD. I think that I have 20 of Sue’s soaps now in the den. Every piece a gem. Recently, I discovered Matthew’s Queen Charlotte Soaps and like them a lot, to the point where I designed my own No1, No2 and No3 shaving soaps (link is here: http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?p=2944582). I hope the No3 with Lime, Bergamot and a touch of Rose will be a staple in Matthew’s collection some day. It is stunning.

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My bespoke shaving cream soaps.

Where did you get your first straight razor? Was it shave ready?
After spending a couple of months on the forum, I just had to try a straight. So I bought one off the Bay, as a side effect of looking for Pelikan fountain pens. And I got myself a beautiful Geneva Cutlery straight razor. I gave it a couple of laps on my Naniwa stones, and was quite happy with it. I never got the chance to actually use it, as one of my friends mentioned he would really love to have one so I gave it to him. It was a beautiful set of ivory colored scales, maybe from the 60’s or so.

So the hunt continued and one day I spotted an old New York Blue Steel Razor Co. straight razor. I absolutely love the city of New York, so this one I could not let go. For a couple of dollars, it was mine. This beautiful vintage, dark blue razor is definitely not shave ready and I do not know what to do about it. I am quite comfortable with DEs but still lack knowledge and skill in the field of straight razors. Once again, B&B proved its chivalry as a famous member in Australia offered to make this razor in pristine shape for me. I still haven’t decided if I can take the dent in my ego for not being able to hone it myself (I used to consider myself the king of honing on my stones with my hand built Japanese Gyuto but now I am back to my normal humble self) and also if shipping this razor around the world is a wise idea.

One day, I will master the art of the straight razor I am sure. Until that day, I comfort myself in the urban legend that straight razors are not meant to shave yourself, but designed as the tool for professional barbers (in my dream, beautiful barberettes) to shave the homecoming cowboys in the civilized, luxurious realm of the barbershop after a long and exhausting trail.

Now my favorite question... if you were stranded on a desert island and could only choose:

Three razors: That would be the Muhle R89, the Muhle R41 and the Gillette Fatboy.

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A Muhle R106 accompanied by a Simpson Wee Scot and Mama Bear’s Chypre Rose.

Two brushes: Two brushes? No gentleman can live on a desert island with only two brushes. So that would be two badgers, two boars right? In that case it has to be the Simpson Custom B&B Eagle G3 in best badger and the Semogue 2010 Limited Edition Silvertip. And for the boars, the Semogue Limited Edition 2009 and the old 1305. I’d still smuggle in a Simpson Wee Scot, though.

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The Semogue 2010 Limited Edition Silvertip in good company: a Gillette New open comb, Mama Bear’s British Leather in a wooden bowl and Diptyque Tam Dao.

Three soaps: I’d have Mama Bear’s Rosemary and Mint, Mitchell’s Wool Fat and Queen Charlotte Soap No3 (Lime, Bergamot, Rose). The Wee Scot I will smuggle into the island hidden in a bowl of Geo F. Trumper’s Limes Shaving Soap.

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A Gillette Fatboy with Geo F. Trumper’s Limes Shaving Soap and the Semogue 2010 Limited Edition Silvertip.

Two creams: Amongst all this limited edition gear, I think a humble tub of Palmolive will be fine. And some Proraso, as I assume this desert island is comfortably tropical and not somewhere in the Bering sea.

Three colognes: The colognes would all be from my favorite line of colognes, Fredric Malle: Noir Epices, Dans Tes Bras and Une Rose. These scents are amazing.

3 Aftershaves: As for aftershaves, I’d bring some Pitralon (as I like the cedar oil in it), some Penhaligon’s English Fern (for that truly traditional scent) and some Mama Bear After Shave Balm, probably the Fleur de Soul.

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The Mulhle R41 open comb with the Simpson Custom B&B Eagle G3 from B&B’s legendary group buy, QCS No2 shaving soap and Penhaligon’s English Fern.

What is your blade preference? Do you rotate brands with many DEs, just the blades or just the DE?
My blade preference is Feathers. I did some blade sampling, after the Derby’s that came from the Muhle shop. Nice blades, but I thought they could be sharper. So I ordered a Japanese sampler pack from Jason (dridiot), since I heard a lot about the Feathers. Tried some Shogun and Kai also before the Feathers, and did not like them at all. The Feathers, however, were a dream to work with from the first moment I put one in the razor. They are still my blade of choice after almost three years and I do not intend to change. They are probably the most stable item in the rotation – I change brushes, soaps, creams and razors every day but not the blades.

Are you currently reading a book? Or perhaps even better; what book will you be reading next?
I am always reading several books at a time. Some are for my work at the university, some are just for fun. On the fun side, a book by Anthony Beevor on the war in Stalingrad, a great historical work. And even more fun: the River Cook Book by Rose Gray. I just attended a workshop that was highly influenced by this style of cooking, so I ordered a copy myself. Just started, but it looks great. In the mail, and on the reading list: The Complete Robuchon by Joel Robuchon and Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.

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In the mail: Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.

What is your favorite movie? Or two?
My favorite movie has to be Ascenseur Pour L'échafaud from 1958. I originally went to see it for the phenomenal soundtrack by Miles Davis, and the movie was incredibly more intriguing and exciting than I expected. A nice surprise. See a little clip on Youtube (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saG7EELIfMM). Jeanne Moreau is fantastic. Also a little video of Miles recording the soundtrack here (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQ4l4oRkh_8).

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Great movie, fantastic soundtrack: Ascenseur Pour L'échafaud

And while I usually watch movies like the Bourne Trilogy or Tarantino classics, the second movie in my favorites is also a French one: Amélie: Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain. It is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen, and also one of the most touching. A Youtube clip is here (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sECzJY07oK4).
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A beautiful and funny movie: Amélie: Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain

With what fictional/historical character do you most identify?
A character I admire is Sun Tzu. Although his writings are on the topic of war, and I am not very war-minded, I admire his clear lines of reasoning and thinking, the practical and non dogmatic way he approaches his issues and his beautiful concise style of writing.

Do you have any mottos, sayings, or quotes to live by?
What made quite an impression on me was John F. Kennedy’s “Okay. Let’s Have it.” I saw that in a movie on the Cuba Crisis, Thirteen Days. It is a line from the first conference of a special committee that was set up to handle the crisis at hand. Sometimes, when I am in a mood for walking away or ignoring the problems of life I post this as a status on Facebook or so just to remind me that facing your demons straight away is probably the better course of action.
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President Kennedy during the Cuba Crisis.

What has been the best advice you've gotten from a member at B&B?
Go slow, no pressure and correct angle. YMMV. Use more product. Prep, prep, prep. All are mentioned often on the forum, and all are true. I usually do not believe in the wisdom of the crowd much. It has led our world too often in a vulgar direction. But here at Badger & Blade there is a fine crowd of gentlemen whose advice can be trusted. Or is worth trying, at least. So I pay attention to all tips and techniques that are suggested and try my best to do quality posts that are beneficial to others. OK, sometimes they are just fun :).

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new at this, what would it be?
As for the art of wet shaving: enjoy the ride. It is also often mentioned that once you leave the cartridges and the cans behind, shaving becomes a pleasurable experience. I couldn’t agree more.

As for the Badger & Blade forum: contribute! There’s a wealth of information and interesting encounters to be discovered out there and in my experience taking part in the discussions, learning from the pros, participating in the conversation and supporting people with whatever they bring to our attention makes the wet shaving journey even more fun.
 
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