STONINGTON — Two mechanical engineers have created a plastic-free razor that incorporates the simplicity of an old-fashioned safety razor with the technology and comfort of a modern cartridge razor.
Leaf Shave, an all-metal razor with a pivoting head that can be customized with one, two or three blades, was invented by Adam Simone, of Mystic, and Adam Hahn, of Pittsburgh. The two launched the project through a $100,000 Kickstarter campaign in July 2016.
“It’s customizable so if you have sensitive skin, you might only put two blades in and if you have tough hair, you might put in all three,” said Simone, demonstrating how to load blades into the razor, at the company’s warehouse on Taugwonk Spur Road on April 10.
“When you close it up, suddenly it’s a multi-blade pivoting head,” he said. “Take care of it and it will last forever, it’s a really simple mechanism.”
Simone said he and Hahn saw that shaving clubs like Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s were thriving, but the duo had a goal of creating a plastic-free razor that would stay out of landfills.
“The clubs were using the same kind of razors that Gillette was using — a plastic disposable razor — and we thought if we could invent a new kind of razor we could make something really interesting for the industry so that’s what we set out to do,” he said. “Also, the EPA estimates 2 billion disposable razors are thrown out annually in the U.S. alone and there is really no need for that.”
All-metal, doubled-bladed safety razors had their advantages but were difficult to use, Simone said.
“Those were quality tools and they’ve been around for many years and they cost pennies, which is awesome, but safety razors are kind of challenging to use. It’s easy to cut yourself, there’s a learning curve and some people don’t want to take that time, which is why we have these pivoting heads and modern cartridge razors,” he said.
Simone and Hahn met while working at Blue Belt Technologies, a medical device start-up in Pittsburgh, building medical robotics for orthopedic surgery.
Hahn ran the mechanical engineering group at the company and Simone, who has a mechanical engineering degree from Northeastern and a masters in business and healthcare from Carnegie Mellon, ran the marketing group.
In 2016, Blue Belt was acquired, which gave Simone and Hahn capital to split off and build their own business.
Simone said he and Hahn have complementary skills that dovetail well.
“Adam specialized in developing small, mechanical instrumentation and that lends itself really nicely because these are small and precision,” Simone said. “He and I have compatible skill sets. He handles engineering, design and manufacturing and I handle sales, marketing and customer services and operations here.”
Also in working in the Stonington warehouse is April Collier, Adam Simone’s wife, who is the fulfillment manager for the company. Collier grew up in Pawcatuck and North Stonington and Simone grew up in Canterbury and Norwich.
Even though Hahn is from Pittsburgh and continues to live and work there, Simone and Collier wanted to live closer to their families.
“Family brought us back mostly and it’s also a fairly economical way to build this part of our business operationally because space is relatively affordable compared to a big city like Pittsburgh,” Simone said.
He said the company is 100 percent self-funded.
“We have no debt, no venture investment,” he said. “We’re just growing off the strength of the business.”
The company’s patent has been pending for two and a half years, he said.
The job involves some travel, especially to Taiwan, where the razor bodies are manufactured. The stainless steel blades are made in Israel.
The razor’s design was influenced by the 1,500 people who participated in the Kickstarter campaign, Simone said.
“They helped us through the manufacturing with testing prototypes and giving us feedback and they’ve been our evangelists as we’ve grown,” he said. “Since then we’ve sold out of 10,000 razors and done two production runs. We’re in our third one already.”
The brand has an engaged audience in the sustainability, zero-waste community who are looking to cut down on their single-use plastics, he said.
“Razors is one of the biggest consumables in the bathroom and we’ve really been able to provide a solution,” he said. “Previously there was only the safety razor and this is a very easy transition for people to make.”
The used blades are collected in a small metal container and can be recycled locally or by sending them back to Leaf Shave.
The 100 percent plastic-free packaging is made from paper board, craft paper and paper tape. Simone said, “We’re very conscious of reducing the use of plastic.”
Hahn and Simone chose "Leaf Shave" because it spoke to an eco-friendly solution to shaving and was a gender-neutral name.
The company markets to a wide demographic and marketing is done primarily word-of-mouth and through social media.
“Honestly almost everyone shaves at some point so there’s no specific target audience that we need to speak to,” he said.
The company has customers in 70 countries and a few wholesale accounts, such as Package Free Shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., which is one of the premier zero-waste destinations for people looking to reduce their plastic use, Simone said.
“We’ll rest when we’ve exchanged every plastic disposable razor with a Leaf razor,” he said.
For more information on the company, visit leafshave.com.