Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Elite Group of Stratospheric Thinkers

Peace. Love. War. Sex. Money. Life. Death. These are some of the most important issues we all deal with in more reflective and philosophical moments.

Oh yeah, and a good shave. Let me explain: I know the answer to this one now.

This is going to be a bit of a departure from my normal posts. It's a little more personal, related to concerns of daily life, and my recent experience with what I think is going to be a great product. But before I get there, let me tell you a little of the background about why I'm writing this.

For years I've pursued a good shave. My combination of medium beard (while it doesn't grow exceptionally fast, it's evenly distributed with follicles of moderate thickness) and skin sensitivity have made this routine the source of quite a bit of frustration since puberty. As the initiated know, the best shave comes from a barber using a straight razor. But who can afford doing that every day or so? And for the DIY-inclinced, have you seen the price of good straight razors? Even DIYers have to admit that the price of a good straight razor just isn't justifiable. So, I've tried electric razors of all kinds. Double blades. triple blades. The latest high tech Gillette 10-blades. You name it. In fact, one time I tried to use a depilatory cream instead of shaving altogether. What I got was a chemical burn on my neck that is still observable 20 years later. I've also tried every kind of shaving cream and aftershave balms you can imagine. All I want is a good shave at an affordable price that doesn't leave my face irritated. (You may be wondering why I don't just go with a beard. I've done that, too, but in addition to being especially abrasive to my wife and always worrying about whether I have food lodged in it, I look a bit like a leprechaun due to my Scot Irish heritage.)

This is where I've settled. I shave in a hot shower using the Schick Xtreme3 with the aloe strip, and I use Dial soap as a shave cream. I'm serious. Dial soap! I wipe the bar of Dial over my face, lather it up with my hands, and chop away. And it works pretty well. Whatever the chemical reaction is of the aloe strip and the glycerin (possibly?) in the Dial soap, it produces the absolute slickest surfactant I've ever seen. Unfortunately, the experience isn't altogether consistent in quality because sometimes the blades come a little dull or the aloe strip isn't imbued with the right amount of aloe.

Then a friend sent me a link a few weeks ago to the newly launched Dollar Shave Club. Their snarky video was enough to make me watch it three or four times. But I was intrigued because here they were claiming "Our Blades Are F***ing Great," and I did not have a particularly good shave that morning. I was in the mood to change - I admit it. After doing a little cost tradeoff analysis, I decided to try The 4X for $6 per month (and no S&H!). I signed up, and began anticipating blades that were f***ing great.

And then depression set in. A week later, I received an email informing me that "the internet arrived" at DSC and they were swamped with so many new orders that they had simply run out of inventory. My shipment would be delayed until May 15, about a month later.

So I waited. And I watched the snarky video again. Well, actually I watched it several more times, as I imagined what it was going to be like using blades that were f***ing great.

The blades finally arrived in the mail on May 21st. The package of four four-bladed razors (with an aloe strip) came with a weighty handle made of metallocene plastic. Enclosed was a little card informing me that I was now a "member of an elite group of stratospheric thinkers" and that I was entitled to a free drink at any bar in the US where I presented the card. (More snarkiness in the follow up - with the appropriate disclaimer, of course.  You will still be in the elite group of stratospheric thinkers.) On the morning of May 22nd, I used a DSC razor according to my routine manner for the first time.

The shave was f***ing great.
(I'm saying that in a hushed whisper now, as I observe a moment of reverent silence.)

The blades were smooth and sharp. The blade head was wide and hugged my face securely as the pivot worked exactly as designed. The aloe strip didn't quite deliver the same surfactant quality as the Schick, but it was good.

I’m also going to save $24/year. Admittedly, that’s not a lot, but I can apply it to my Starbucks addiction. Every little bit counts.

But OMG! The shave was the smoothest I've ever had. Two mornings later, the same blade cartridge delivered the same quality of shave as it did on the first day.

Do I sound like a giddy school girl after her first kiss? I won't shy away from that description, but it may go beyond even that because not two hours after my first shave with a DSC razor, I was thinking, as I drove to a client meeting, I'd like to go back and have another shave. All I wanted was just one more shave. Just one. I could turn around, go back home, and claim that Atlanta traffic was doing its normal thing to excuse my tardiness.

Now, I do have some critical recommendations for DSC (DSC, are you listening?). First, get that supply chain fixed, if you haven't already. You can't let another surprise catch you off guard like it did on your opening day or let customers feel that letdown again of being told that the most amazing razor in the world will be late. Second, figure out what Schick is putting in their aloe strip. I don't care how you find out, who you have to bribe, how you reverse engineer it, or what levels of corporate espionage you have to engage in, get that strip! Your razors will go from being f***ing great to holy mother of cheese and crackers f***ing great.

So, on a scale of 1 to 5, I'm giving DSC a 4. I think eventually they will reach a 5, but the initial delay really was a letdown. I had to discount them –1 to maintain my sense of fairness and objectivity.

If after reading this you are inclined to join an elite group of stratospheric thinkers, click this link and go from there. Honestly, with each signup that occurs through this link, I get a free shipment of blades. But I'm not asking you to be completely altruistic. If you sign up, you can get free blades, too, through your own referral link. See, we all win.

And you will love the shave.

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