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Straight Shaver Interview - Bird_Flu

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Needs milk and a bidet!
Greetings everyone! Please enjoy a fantastic interview by member Bird_Flu aka Jeff.

Who are you? - My name is Jeff Jenkins
Where are you located? - Pittsburgh, PA

Do you have a particular coffee you enjoy? or what wakes you up in the morning? I do rather enjoy coffee but not every day. My favorite coffee is Donut House Chocolate Glazed Donut coffee because it tastes like you dunked a chocolate glazed donut into a cup of coffee. It's great over ice or hot and an excellent pick me up.

How did you get in to wet shaving? I had a coworker at my former job get into it for the cost savings, I know what you're thinking but it can happen, and he told me to get leisureguy's book. I picked it up on Kindle and never read it until around Christmas last year. I then started doing more research and found this forum. I placed a large order on Amazon in late February and the rest as they say is history. I always had trouble with ingrown hairs and razor burn and bumps and was looking for a way to get rid of that. So far it's mostly worked unless I do something wrong but the ingrown hairs, aka razor bumps, have gone away completely at this point which is fantastic.
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How long was it before you started mixing in straights? - I was very lucky to be the recipient of a fantastic PIF from Otto76 and rockviper, members here on B&B, of a custom scaled Forwear straight razor, a paddle strop, a puck of Mama Bear's soap and an awesome Frank's Synthetic brush. I got the package in late April, 2013, and started down my straight razor journey. At the time of this interview I'm over 40 shaves into it and am completely hooked. It's an exhilarating experience to shave with a piece of unguarded surgically sharp steel and I get the smoothest most irritation free shaves from straights. I can still get a darn fine DE shave, and still mix in DE shaves from time to time, but straight razor shaving has become my preferred method of whisker removal.
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How often and what is your method for touching up your straights? Favorite finish? I just recently got into honing and I have a Suehiro #1200, a Norton 4000/8000 and some lapping film for finishing. I haven't had a lot of experience with other finishers but Coticules are of particular interest to me at the moment and I might have to acquire a small one to give it a try. I touch up my straights as needed and it's not often enough to practice honing so I'm on the hunt for cheap auction site beaters and Gold Dollars.

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What is your position on DE vs. Straight? I think they both have their purposes. Personally speaking, I use a DE when I want a quick, predictable shave. I'm not yet good enough with my straights to get a predictable shave every time when I'm in a rush but I'm getting close. I can get a DE shave in just a few minutes, under 10, and straights take me at least 15 minutes to get a good shave. So when time is of the essence or when I want a really mild shave, I use my DE razors. I think as skills improve anyone can get a good quick shave from a straight, but I still enjoy my vintage Gillette's too much to give them up completely, yet. One day I may be straight razor only but for now I still mix at least once a week.
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Where did you get your first straight razor? Was it shave ready? I received my first straight razor in a PIF from Otto76, I received the rest of my kit from rockviper in the same PIF. The straight was sent to me completely shave ready.

Determination is key with shaving with a straight, how did you push through the month+ of sub-par shaves? I was actually lucky that I never had terrible shaves. They're certainly not up to the level they are today but they also weren't awful face bleeding, making me want to quit shaves. However, the problems I did run into were quickly solved through the great advice I got from the awesome members that took the time to keep up with my journal.

What has been the best advice you’ve gotten from a member at B&B - The best advice I've gotten was for a situation that afflicts a lot of men, hard water. I was really struggling early on getting good lather built, it was thin, it was dry, and didn't give much protection. I can't remember who it was exactly, but someone suggested to really load the heck out of my brush, using at least twice as much product as normal. At the time I was using creams and mug lathering, I still lather in a large coffee mug, and I put 3 times the amount of Proraso cream into my mug and voila, I finally got the lather explosion. I felt like I just solved an amazing mystery and my shaves have been improving ever since. If there's one area I still struggle with it's lather building, it's tough to get consistent lather with really hard water but I'm getting better. If I could pass along any advice it's this, buy a water softener just for shaving. :tongue_sm

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new at this, what would it be? - Learn, read and never stop either when it comes to wet shaving. A client of mine who is also a business coach took a quote from someone else that says, and I'm paraphrasing here, "It's what you learn when you think you know it all that makes the most impact." The point of this is no one knows everything even about one topic so there's always something to learn. The membership here is more generous with their knowledge and time about something that couldn't be more personal, than any other online community I've come across. The collective knowledge of this community is incredible and all you have to do is ask and everyone will jump in with tips, tricks, jokes, and constructive criticism. It truly is incredible and why I spend so much of my free time on here.
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What prompted you to begin keeping a shave journal? This was interesting and not something I've really done before, but I was encouraged by the two generous gentlemen who PIF'ed me the straight razor kit to start and keep up with a journal. One gentleman in particular rockviper, has a wonderful journal about his foray into straight razor shaving, that I've read cover to cover so to speak. The knowledge I was able to pick up from there along with other shave journals and my own has really helped my own learning of this wonderful skill.

Do you reference your shave journal at all? I do from time to time but not very often. I'll reference it if I'm having a trouble I know I solved before.

How do you think keeping a shave journal has helped you? It has been the single best learning experience I have had when it comes to straight razor shaving. The ability for other members to chime in and help with issues, or post pictures of grips, offer encouragement or advice been incredible. I highly recommend to anyone looking to get into straight razor shaving, or even DE shaving, to keep a journal of some sort, especially online. With the community here any stumbling blocks can be overcome quickly thanks to the wonderful members here.

Do you keep a journal for any other hobbies? or perhaps a daily journal? I don't have many other hobbies, being a small business owner, a father, husband and son, free time is at a premium. My current hobbies include, shaving, fine spirits, a little cooking, and weight lifting/exercising. I keep a journal of sorts for the exercise using two apps Gym Hero and Runkeeper, and that's the only other journal I keep. I keep a daily work journal to list accomplishments and help keep myself on task at work but that's less of a journal and more of a running to-do/done list.

Do you jot down notes while you are shaving or pull from your memory of the shave to fill out your journal? I write from memory. I typically post of my shaves within an hour or two so it's not an issue. I've been truly blessed with an excellent memory so even if I don't post until late that night or the next day it's not an issue.

Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share with the membership of B&B? I would say that the membership here can be one of the best support systems in the world. In person, or online. I have yet to have the pleasure of meeting any of the membership online in person, but I hope to some day. I'm privileged to call some of the fine gentlemen my friends. I've never come across a group of friendlier, more helpful, or generous guys in my life and I've learned so much from everyone that has helped me grow not only as a person, but as a father. I've become a better teacher thanks to the membership here and for that I'm eternally grateful. Enjoy your time here, this is a special group of men, and women, we have here that's willing to share, give, encourage, support, and teach. It's a rare gift to come across folks like that in life, you don't have to shake hands with this group to call them your friends.

For those interested Jeff's Shave Journal can be found here:
 
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Great interview, great guy. :thumbup:

Love that quote Jeff. "It's what you learn when you think you know it all that makes the most impact."
 
Thanks for the feedback so far Gentlemen! I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process and have really enjoyed my time here thus far. It's the membership here that truly makes this a special place to hang out.
 
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