B&B CONFIDENTIAL - #6
Hello B&B'ers and welcome to the B&B Confidential.
This is a feature where you can read articles about what is going on in and around Badger & Blade.
For our 6th installment we have the pleasure of an interview with Kristie from Royal Shave:
Who is involved with Royal Shave?
- There are 4 of us that are directly associated with RoyalShave
- Peter – he’s the head honcho and always willing to spend an easy 20-30 minutes talking to newbie wet shavers on the phone. Always willing to give his personal opinion about the products, even if they aren’t part of his personal favorites list.
- Kristie – that’s me! I take care of the website, Badger and Blade, Facebook, Twitter, photos, all that housekeeping stuff. I didn’t know wet shaving existed before RoyalShave, but I’m glad I do now
- Lori – she handles customer service and everything post-order. A lot of people on Badger and Blade have mentioned how nice she is
- Cliff – he’s got the inventory on lockdown. He packages and ships out all the orders every morning so they’re sure to go out that afternoon when the post man makes his way to our neck of the woods.
How long has Royal Shave been a company?
- In 2001, Peter began importing products from Germany that were hard to find in America. But since he enjoyed his wet shaving hobby so much, he decided to dedicate a site specifically to it in early 2008. And RoyalShave was born – officially.
Where did the idea for a shave store become an actual venture?
- Peter’s from Germany, so the popularity of wet shaving over there far exceeds what we’re used to seeing here (outside of B&B). So we started up with a few Merkur products and a few smaller mom and pop companies and grew exponentially from there.
Is Royal Shave also also brick & morter or distinctly online?
- We have a little office where customers can come in to pick up orders or, if they let us know ahead of time, we can have a few items ready for them to take a look at
Is there a process for deciding on what items you'll keep in stock?
- We often receive samples from companies/distributors that are interested in having their products on our sites. When we receive these inquiries, most companies will supply us with a few samples which Peter, or one of us will personally use and decide if they are up to par with our product line. If not, we also do quite a bit of research of our own to see what the customer response to products via forums like Badger and Blade and other German shaving forums as well. We’re always open to suggestions from customers and fellow Badger and Blade members. We also discontinue items from time to time if they’re not doing as well as we’d hoped.
We just finished testing the Osma Alum shaving soap. That passed and is now on the site. We haven’t decided what to test next yet
Im happy to see you've got a lot of esoteric product that is from out of the US, how is the import business?
- It’s really great. That’s a little bit of where we started – you know, there’s tons of amazing products out there so we’ve made it our job to scour and look for the next best thing. There’s always language problems and shipping problems, but no one said it was easy
Is it difficult dealing with items from overseas and/or keeping them in stock?
- Most definitely. If we have any slip ups in inventory or if we forget to put in a purchase order, we’re stuck waiting anywhere between 2-8 weeks to get products in. Not to mention things getting lost or stuck in customs. We have found that shaving customers are a lot more understanding of these delays, though. – so that’s always nice. Even this last summer, we had customs hold a package from Pils for 5 weeks!
What are some of your bestselling products?
- Hmm, this is kind of a personal question … Our best sellers are probably a few of the Merkurs (34C, 33C, Progress, blades), the infamous Pils, Feathers. Proraso and Omega shaving cream – that’s a good one. Oh! And Osma Alum Blocks (we understand, accidents happen).
What are a few products you think are underrated or should be best selling products?
- Calani shaving soaps – this stuff hasn’t been around long, but wow, they smell great and have an amazing lather. Edwin Jagger Chatsworth – I understand it costs a little more for the same head and all, but the handle on these things look and feel great in your hand. Joris razors –if anyone’s looking for an aggressive razor, these are not going to be beat. Plisson and Thater brushes – the badger hair is DENSE and oh-so nice to touch.
It's nice to see you've got a woman selection, how's the feedback on the lady's products?
- We get a lot of ladies buying things for their guys, so they really appreciate that we try to include them, too. We’ve definitely got room to grow in that department, though. This is one of the thing we’re working on to expand RoyalShave
What kind of customers are you seeing, is there a particular demographic?
- We get a lot of repeat customers. I always hear the phone ring, and Lori will pick up and be like, “Oh! Hi [insert name here]!” She’s made some friends working here not too sure about the demographic, though. Sometimes it’s just a name and an address for us. But, we’ve gotten everything – anything from, “My grandpa gave me this fancy razor and I found you guys on google – can you tell me a little more about it?” to “I want the best thing you got – I don’t care how much it costs.” Across the board. I have seen customers come by and they’re usually between 20 and 35.
What are some of the things Royal Shave has planned for the future?
- We’re definitely going to stick around for awhile. We’re still doing our homework every day about new products and bettering our website – providing more information and just making it more user-friendly in general. We’re planning on giving our site a fresh new look and re-launch sometime in March 2011
Are there any product lines you're hoping to add soon?
- We’re really excited about getting Kai DE Blades back in stock. We had a short run of them, and the customer response was amazing. Those should be back in the coming weeks. We’re testing a few soaps and creams, we’ll see how well we respond to those. Other than that, we’re trying to stay focused since it’s so close to the holidays and we want to make sure that everything goes [close to] perfect this holiday season before we bombard ourselves with inventory. We are in discussion with a German manufacturer to design our own soaps at the moment. That’s exciting.
Can you divulge the soap maker?
- I could if I knew, That’s a top secret Peter thing.
Clearly, shaving is your forte, have you considered expanding into other areas grooming or otherwise?
- We’re considering a side project of high end soaps, shampoos, and I’m really pushing for more traditional products for our lady customers. That’s a work in progress though.
Have you seen a demand for traditional methods of shaving, like double-edge and straight razors, increase in popularity?
- Definitely. We have a few Fusion and Mach 3 razors in our product line, but the response that we get from DEs and straights are exponentially greater. But with that, we do see that the response for DEs is larger than it is for straights. Going to be honest with you, before I started working here – I had no idea what these things were, but now I think they’re the coolest looking and niftiest things ever. They’re popping up more in movies (Sweeney Todd and there was a scene in Wolfman) and when I show my Dad what we sell at work, he breaks into storytime about what it used to be like to shave with these back in his war time. It’s fun and definitely something to get really involved with.
Do you have specific recommendations for new wet shavers who are looking for a shaving set up?
- We have a few beginners sets of what we think are great products for starters that are reasonably priced. Those have gotten good responses from customers. Lori, Peter and I have extensive conversations with customers about everything from beard thickness to how big their hands are (just to see how comfortable a razor would fit into their hands). We (specifically Lori and I) often get asked what we think about our opinion of certain scents, too – it turns into a pretty amusing conversation, as you could imagine. Peter says: start off with a Merkur 33C and a sharp, but forgiving blade like the Wilkinson, and your normal set up - even you want to use your spray can from Gillette in the beginning. Then add a stand, brush and hard shaving cream, like Omega. Don’t jump into a Vision with Feather blades.
Do many customers mention the online shaving forums?
- I’ve had customers call and ask to me, specifically because they saw my name on forums and other outlets. But, we do recommend Badger and Blade for some customers that want to learn more about wet shaving. We don’t have a problem with newbies calling with questions and doing extensive research before purchasing a product – that’s why we’re here.
Do you have a discount code for B&B members?
- Indeed we do, it’s BANDB for 10% off everything in the store.
Do you have plans to run specials? where is the best place to look for them?
- I often post in the vendor’s corner when we get new products in or if we have coupons for specific items. We should have a subforum of our own soon, so we’re going to be running specials all the time to keep people on their toes. Also, we’re starting to get into the whole Twitter and Facebook thing, so help us out by following www.twitter.com/royalshave and “liking” www.facebook.com/royalshave , and join our mailing list for some offers as well.
What is the best way to contact RoyalShave for questions, comments, and general chatting about shaving?
- You can call us, you can Facebook us, you can B&B us (PM or Sub-Forum), you can e-mail us ([email protected]) or me personally ([email protected])
--The Royal Shave Team
Stay tuned for our next vendor interview, already in the works! Vendors, want to learn how to be featured in your own B&B Confidential interview? Just PM a friendly moderator.