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Starting 2020 off right - proudly published on Military.com!

What an exciting time! I certainly do not post enough here and I hope to change that for 2020. This community involvement has been insurmountable as my biggest supporters and critics. I look forward to continued success together! Very proud to be published in Military.com.

This Veteran Entrepreneur Started a Shaving Supply Company in the Age of the Vet Beard

This Veteran Entrepreneur Started a Shaving Supply Company in the Age of the Vet Beard

Battle Brothers Shaving Razor and Brush

(Battle Brothers Shaving Company)
Military.com | By Blake Stilwell

Growing a beard is popular right now, so it would seem like a poor time to start a shaving supply company. "I'm totally OK with that," says Army veteran Andrew Weiss, founder of Battle Brothers Shaving Company. "It is the age of beard right now, but a lot of people still need to shave."

Weiss wants potential customers -- especially vets -- to know he has a product that not only pays for itself in short order, it will help save a little face every day. Your grandpa might recognize it. Many younger men may have seen it only on TV. "Oh it's much better for your skin," he says, referring to his company's safety razors. "It's a much sharper blade -- and they're recyclable too."

Weiss is passionate about shaving, and it shows. He founded Battle Brothers in 2017 with money he saved from his two deployments as a helicopter crew chief in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was during one of those deployments that he discovered a passion for shaving.

He used to make fun of one of his senior sergeants while deployed to Iraq, watching him shave everyday with an antiquated-looking, double-edged razor. One day, that NCO challenged Weiss to give the "old school" razor a try.
Battle Brothers Shaving Co Mk II Razor

(MkII Razor)

The sergeant showed the then-24-year-old soldier how to make a thick lather, using a shaving brush. He then learned how to use the razor without slicing off parts of his face. The verdict was soon clear.

"It was the best shave I ever had," Weiss recalls. "And now I just love everything behind it."

Eventually, Weiss showed others and a new hobby was born. Everyone loved the new, old way of shaving. Even after leaving the Army in 2014, shaving was a way for him to connect with his military life.

After a while, he was looking for something to do with his time and energy, not to mention the considerable money he'd saved during his deployments. Battle Brothers Shaving Company was the product of Weiss' passion for a close shave.

"I thought to myself, 'I'm going to go out there and do this for real, to share the experience,'" he says. "That's where my heart and my passion comes from, is sharing the experience of a better way to shave."

Battle Brothers razors are made from sturdy stainless steel and its brushes from durable synthetic fibers. But the former Black Hawk crew chief is most excited for his latest product, a Made-in-America razor crafted from the same aluminum as the Black Hawk itself.
Andrew Weiss founder of Battle Brothers Shaving Co

(Andrew Weiss)

Some people might be thrown off by the cost of the razors, as his company's kits cost $99 -- complete with razor, brush and stand. But they also come with 100 replacement blades. Weiss says the investment is worth it.

"I'm completely self-funded, and we make a quality product," he says. "I understand the initial investment, but it definitely pays for itself."

In the future, he wants to tackle women's products, a market he says is completely underserved when it comes to a quality shave.
"Companies that make shaving products for women tend to think tiny, fluffy and pink," he says. "Women should have quality products that work for them ... not just pink."

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at [email protected].
 
I love the look of the new razor! Any particular reason why you went with aluminum instead of steel or brass? Honor the blackhawk specificially or was it a domestic manufacturing issue? Any outlook on a domestically made brush? Are those nifty shave kit stands still available or making a comeback? Thanks.
 
Thanks, everyone for the comments! I admit, I am not on here enough. I will try to answer as many questions as I can!


Andrew? At least for me, it might be interesting to tell us more about your products...

I do too! Your patience is appreciated! I don’t want to just tell you, I want to show you. I am working on some videos on how the products are designed and manufactured. This is projects is very time heavy and I have to fit it in between running everything else.



I love the look of the new razor! Any particular reason why you went with aluminum instead of steel or brass? Honor the Blackhawk specifically or was it a domestic manufacturing issue?

Great question and a tricky one. There is an overwhelming amount of work that goes into product development over here. Most of it doesn’t make the cut and it goes into the prototype box. Those failures teach us one more thing to apply to the next go. And so on and so on.

Aluminum - The aluminum is a salute to the UH-60 I flew in while conducting Med-Evac missions. The MkII Razor is very light and agile. I find that it gives me more finesse when shaving. But I know that most shavers like weight. Aluminum is also easier to work with in our CNC and lathe machines. Each individual razor takes a significant amount of time to make. And the metal allows us to speed up that process. Add American labor and you have a very well made. I am very proud of what we have built!


Brass - We used brass on our first line of razors (Black Ops, Classic Chrome, and Smoke Gray). Brass is great to work with but turned out to be too soft and there too many defective units. As we milled out the pieces sometimes the metal bent or deformed from heat or friction or from a number of other reasons during the manufacturing process. Those are also made overseas because at the time of manufacturing we could not afford US labor, just was not possible in our small size. That is changing now though! We are working right now on bringing the 1st gen razors back to US production and with a new design and metal, 316 marine steel!


Stainless Steel - 316 marine stainless steel razor is in the works as we speak! It will be made in the US but is taking longer than desired to get it just right.

Finding the right manufacturing partner and reliable souring is critical in BB’s current juncture.

Any outlook on a domestically made brush?

It’s in the works! Here’s the ugly truth about brushes: Badger hair is unethically harvested out of China, so until we find an ethical source we are stick with synthetic in the current line up. I am looking an ethically sources alternative hair to make in a brush from a US manufacture! Yes, one does exist and I might have just convinced them to make a shaving brush exclusively for Battle Brothers! Very excited to share this!

Are those nifty shave kit stands still available or making a comeback?

We stopped making them but still have some 140 left in Chrome and Black. We’re thinking about offloading them in some kind of clearance area on the website. Since they were hand made, we had a problem with consistency and quality. I have draftsman working on a few new designs working with an array of material. And yes, the new ones will be US made.



Love the questions! I love sharing where we are at! Thank you for asking them! Thank you for all of the support! I wish I had more time to write about all the current activities more consistently. Most of my time have been going into developing new US made products. Know every dollar spent on BB goes to growing the company! (I’m not kidding, BB is a team of 5 people and none of us draw salary yet)
 
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Wow, thanks for the response! I went ahead and nabbed a MKII already :) It is quite light compared to my usual Merkur 34C and a bit more aggressive with Viking blades. It really does sound like hairs are popping off. Well made and I'm definitely looking forward to a steel model as well as a US brush (and blades I imagine). Plus your packaging looks good next to Duke Cannon stuff! The redacted tape look was an excellent choice.
 
Best of luck with your endeavor. I'm not a customer yet, but I think a presence on B&B will help you spread the word. Your response in a Battle Brothers blade thread caught my attention.

Your posts have a solid, sensible, well-informed tone. Get out of the vendor corral and post a bit on non-Battle Brothers threads. Blackland has a good presence that way.

USA manufacture and ethical sourcing will be important selling points going forward. I like that you are not going negative/xenophobic, just promoting your values.

For more experienced B&Bers, your product line may be seen as a good choice as a gift to a shaver just starting out, or as a way to convert a shaver from cartridges. Guys (and gals) in the military would be an obvious choice to receive Battle Brothers gifts from B&Bers and their circle.

You might consider kits that echo the 'khaki kits' that GIs bought or were issued back in the day. You would know how best to design a khaki or camo wrap or bundle that would be both practical for a deployment and aspirational/attractive to the young person or collector. Easily transported kit would be a plus for those heading to college or off on a gap year, as well as those on deployment. You very well may have thought about this. The USA still has a decent production base for sewn goods.

A standalone wrap/bundle would also be a great acquisition/gift for the B&Ber with already too many razors, brushes, soaps and blades. Captain's Choice does some prototyping and gifting using B&B. You might check out @Captain Pre-Capsize to see his approach. I suspect he might also be a worthwhile advisor and sympathetic to your start-up.
 
Hi Tanuki! Thank you for the support and your thoughts on Battle Brothers! I'm always open to ideas and thoughts. I would love to spend more time poking around the forms. I do feel it's a wasted opportunity for myself. I also do not want to be salesy so it's easy for me to stay in my vendor lane. I'm better just being transparent in what it takes to make these products and share my passion through it. It really comes down to time management. So much of it needs to go into managing my team, customers, strategic growth, and product iteration and development. I'm left with only slivers of time in between. I forget about the 'khaki kits'! And I just so happen to know the guys over at American Beechcraft who make awesome leather products. This might be the perfect product marriage as we have been trying to find some collaboration.
 
My daughter bought the MKII Captain's Kit for my birthday.
It's a nice, well made razor, and a bit more aggressive than the Super Speed and the Maggard MR5 with the V3 head I have used. But it will be getting used again. And your blades are plenty sharp, and work well in my other razors.
My only concern with the brush is that over time, I think the handle will get tacky because of the material used. The soft rubber type material that seems the same on my old cell phone got quite tacky after a while.
Maybe an aluminum handle with a larger knot and knurling could be something worth investigating? ANd maybe even a boar knot?
And as a former mil guy myself, I understand using materials you were exposed to. I was a Harrier mech in the USMC (pre-9/11). Maybe an option for military branch branded caps in the future?
 
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