safetyrazors.co.uk - A good modern (or
vintage) safety razor will last a lifetime
Digger talked to Eddie
about his business selling vintage razors, shaving
equipment and accessories. Eddie is also offering a
replating and renovating service for razors that have seen
Digger: Hello Eddie. How are
Eddie: Good thanks.
Digger: What is your background Eddie?
Eddie: I went to Manchester Poly, studied Electrical and
Electronic Engineering and left when I was twenty-one and
ended-up selling Batteries. I did that for about twelve years,
for four different companies. Then about thirteen years ago
when I was about 35 or so, I decided I wanted to work for
myself. I set up as a one-man-band designing and building
battery packs for a wide variety of customers. I've been doing
that for over thirteen years now . From a start-up situation I
now employ twenty four people in the battery pack assembly
business, we do a lot of customisation of standard batteries
for OEM applications, anything from data loggers to tracking
devices - most of these pieces of equipment need some sort of
battery pack and essentially what we do is to provide
solutions for these wonderful applications . I became very
successful at understanding what my customers needed and built
up a fantastic team of people that form the basis of our Award
Winning company Cell Pack Solutions Ltd. We developed a great
ecommerce website that has been running successfully for seven
or eight years now. This has helped us to grow to where we are
The Safety Razor Project came about in this way; What happened
was about three years ago I met a chap called David Glynn, who
ended doing some SEO work for me on my website. He had this
great hobby, re-plating old-fashioned razors - the old double
edged Gillette type RAZOR.
Digger: Yes, the sort my dad used to use.
Eddie: Exactly. And I looked at it and thought "God, that's
fantastic." I loved the feel and look of these old vintage
Digger: I can remember taking them apart and being fascinated
Eddie: I was fascinated by Butterfly Razors and just the fact
that these little things were so well engineered. Maybe
because I come from an Engineering background I just liked the
look of them and it stirred something in me. So I said to Dave
that whenever he felt he wanted a change then he should give
me the first shout and I'd be interested. His main business
was web design and software design, so he created a website
called SafetyRazors.co.uk to fund his hobby and to develop and
prove his search engine optimization skills.
He developed the original Safety Razor Website to sell
additional products like Soaps , Brushes, Blades and
everything else you might need , and before long he found that
it was taking over his life and away from his original hobby
and his full time job. I saw the opportunity , and a bit like
VICTOR KIAM, I liked the product so much I bought the company.
I liked the fact that it was so niche. I liked the concept of
the product and I felt we could fit it in with what we do.
Even though it's nothing to do with batteries, we have a full
logistics system that enables us to deal with a few hundred
orders a day through our Internet website. I knew we would be
able to cope with the customer service side of things quite
Digger: What you're also doing is diversifying and hitting
lots of different markets which can't be a bad thing.
Eddie: Also my character is that I like a challenge. If I look
back in time, the reason I moved four times in my career was
that after a couple of years you get a bit complacent . and I
always like a fresh challenge.
Digger: Some people like routine and it's good that there are
those and also people who need change.
Eddie: Yes. I got to the position in the companies that I knew
the job back-to-front and couldn't see any progression: That
happened four times so in the end I thought "If I can't find a
job that's going to keep me happy, then I've got to create my
own." So I ended-up with our battery business and that was
forever changing. Obviously you were always learning new
skills running a company, HR and all of the other stuff as
opposed to just being a technical sales guy for a company
where everything else had been handled for you. We are now at
a point where the company is doing really well and I can
afford the time and the risk to take on new challenges. I felt
the Safety Razors Company was a great challenge .
We have now created a formal limited company and called it THE
SAFETY RAZOR COMPANY LIMITED, it's a totally separate entity
to Cell Pack Solutions Ltd . The idea is that once it's off
the ground and all systems are working I can then give it to
somebody to run for me or find a way or running it together
but maybe take on a graduate or an APPRENTICE (like Lord
Digger: You are sounding like Alan Sugar Eddie.
Eddie: (Laughs) In a small way, a small way! I know what you
mean and I wish I was but it's like anything in life you need
to take a risk. I was talking to a friend of mine at the
weekend, I hadn't seen him for about twenty years. I
discovered that he'd done the same thing as me (created a
company) down in another part of the country and what he said
was, that he'd never done it for the money. He doesn't do what
he does now for money, it's just that the money comes along
with success. It's never the thing that drives me, it's the
idea of making something work well and to enjoy doing it. So
taking over the Safety Razor Company was something that ticked
loads of boxes for me .
Digger: Why is vintage, retro and nostalgia such a big thing
in so many people's lives?
Eddie: When I spoke about the idea to my accountant he was the
same as me. He's about nine or ten years older than me - I'm
fifty this year and he's sixty or so and he just said "Wow, a
fantastic idea." I think there's a market out there because
people like familiarity and certainty of things. In the
vintage razor market some of the things we sell are forty,
fifty years even eighty years old or more.
Digger: Please tell us more about the products & services on
offer. You've obviously got the razors but also all of the
Eddie: Yes, brushes, soaps ,bowls and even though I've bought
the business off my old friend Dave, he will still continue to
do any re-plating, so we still offer a re-plating service. If
you found your grandfather's old razor in the loft and you
felt you wanted to resurrect an old family heirloom; Get it
re-plated and then put in a presentation box, possibly for
something to pass on to the next generation. You might not
want to do it now because it might be old and rusty but after
a re-plating job they look absolutely brand new. And it's
something you might want to continue to use. We know people
that have done that. There's a trend for people to buy what
they call a 'birthday razor', for example if you were born in
1962, you may hunt out a Gillette razor from the year of your
birth. Bizarre as it seems, that's what some people do and
there are these sites in America - the shaver forums , you
wouldn't believe how big a market it is , and how involved
people get with this sort of thing. In the UK, what are
there?... 30 million blokes and 20 million of them have got to
shave. Obviously, a lot of them shave with electric or with
the throwaway types of razors , but there's nothing beats
spending a little time in the morning for a proper shave.
Digger: Are you a good
advert for the product Eddie?
Eddie: I am now . I use a brush and the soap and spend ages in
the bathroom and my wife says "What are you doing in there?"
Because it's a great feeling in the morning and a bit of a
ritual to take a little time out and think about the day
Digger: And it's what you do so you can certainly justify
spending a bit of time.
Eddie: Yes exactly and as you said I think there's a feel for
retro and people like using good old equipment, whether it be
razors or whatever.
Digger: It's the touch and the smell and all those senses.
Eddie: Yes, exactly.
Digger: There are so many retro programmes and films, that
must be a good promotion for you? We often see images of
somebody shaving in the traditional way.
Eddie: I love old films , and old programs from the early days
of Television , things like Randall and Hopkirk and The
Champions , it was also great to see a Black and White Retro
film do so well at the Oscars .Its great to see the images of
men shaving , I think people seem to have more time in the
good old days. I have spoken to a lot of people over the last
couple of months and they say "My dad used to do that" or "My
granddad used to do that" and you think there's a massive
market out there. Obviously, there are youngsters today who
have only ever shaved using Mach III's and there's a bit of an
untapped market. I'm sure there's a lot of competition for
what I'm doing, which is great and I love competition, but I
think the market's big enough.
I love old films , and old programs from the early days of
Television, things like Randall and Hopkirk and The Champions,
it was also great to see a Black and White Retro film do so
well at the Oscars.
Digger: Yes, you've potentially got half the population and
you can go worldwide too.
Eddie: Exactly and I've got to be honest. Already in the
couple of months we've been doing it we've had orders from
Singapore, from Germany, from Italy, Spain and Portugal. I
find it hard to believe, but it's great.
Digger: The Internet has lost that stigma it once had where
people were nervous about buying from overseas. They don't
Eddie: I don't think they do if they can find something they
want at the right price then they'll go and buy it. We've had
orders from all over the world.
Digger: What are the most enjoyable aspects of running
Eddie: I bought the website in October and I've got a lot of
things going on at the moment, so it's taken a slight
backburner. I was in no hurry to get into the Christmas rush,
for example. At the moment we're in the process of redesigning
the website - we're trying to get that sorted within the next
few weeks. My plan is to have the new website with a new admin
back-end and also we're looking at redesigning the logo and
the whole look of the website.
We're still making our minds up what the logo will look like
and we're going to go more traditional, looking at a half a
dozen choices. We've got one or two more ideas to come in and
then we'll look at them all and whittle it down to one or two,
Then we'll do a little bit of market research, which could
mean not only asking our friends, but also going to the high
street just asking random people. It's a big decision and once
we make it we've got to stick with it for a while.
Digger: Where are you sourcing these razors?
Eddie: When I bought the company from Dave, I inherited his
list of suppliers, so it wasn't a case of starting from
scratch - I inherited quite a lot of information from him. So
there are some existing suppliers that we're using but I'm
busy at the moment trying to identify some new suppliers. And
without giving away too many trade secrets, we're also
considering some other options to improve our stock. Some of
the things we do can be very niche and I think there is a
market in the UK. I've discovered that there are people at the
top end who collect these things who buy razors and brushes
just for collecting's sake. In the States especially you
wouldn't believe it - there are people who'll spend hundreds
on a brush or razor.
Digger: Do you know those cups they made for men with
moustaches back in the day are also highly collectable
according to the Antiques Roadshow?
Eddie: I didn't see that. One of the things we're looking at
is putting these together as presentation kits for the gift
market - presents for father's day.
Digger: Or an 18th or 21st?
Eddie: Yes, or leaving presents or anything. Put together a
nice looking kit in a nice looking box and it's a present that
people keep for a long time. It might sound a lot of money,
but even from what we've done, with very little marketing or
effort, we were getting orders over Christmas for people
buying them as gifts for their husband or loved one.
Digger: So you're being found on The Internet?
Eddie: Yes. The other box that the website ticked was that it
had a fantastic name - Safety Razor is one of those key words
and it defines the product.
Digger: Yes, it pays to get what you do into the URL.
Eddie: Exactly. It's difficult to do that these days because
all the key names have been taken or reserved. So we were
fortunate that the name was obtained some time ago. The same
with you and Retrosellers I suppose?
Digger: Yes, we got the name back in 2000/2001.
Eddie: I started my other business in 2001 and didn't
really get on The Internet properly until about 2003. By that
time, people were squatting on names. I know people who made a
fortune by buying the right name and then selling it on to
people who really wanted the name.
Digger: What about the future for safetyrazors.co.uk Eddie?
Eddie: Last summer, I bought a piece of land in South Shields.
We currently run out of three business units in a business
centre and really we can't grow with this any further because
we're out of space. We're about to sign a deal to get a
building built on the land and it will be about 9,000 square
feet on two levels. So by the middle of the summer we'll be in
a new building and will have a lot more space. We can have the
batteries business on one floor and the shaving on the other.
Digger: You might need
another floor for your next project too!
Eddie: Yes, I will look for something that will complement
what we're doing to an extent and that we can integrate into
the system that we run. The important thing about ecommerce is
stock control, managing it and shipping it out and making sure
you have customer service as the back end. We've done all that
for the battery side of things for ten years, so all we need
to do is find products to fit that - products that we like and
can get attached to. And the razor was one of those. You look
at it and think "Oh yes, that's great."
Digger: They do look good. I would often walk around St
James's in London and look at the gents shops. There were some
that specialised in shaving requisites.
Eddie: I'm going to try to keep what we do at that top end. I
don't want to be competing at the bottom end of the market
just on price. It has to be on quality and service. Because we
offer a good service in what we do. It's the same principles
that I run Cell Pack Solutions with really. The best quality
service to solve particular problems.
Digger: Sounds good to me Eddie. Can I just ask you a cheeky
question? How do you pronounce your surname? As a Catholic, I
went to school with lots of Poles and Czechs but am not too
sure about Czestochowski.
Eddie: If you think of the town Chester. Then you think of the
Hof and then Ski.
Digger: Chester-Hof-Ski? Is that how you remember it too
Eddie? (Both laugh)
Eddie: No, everyone just calls me Eddie.
Digger: Touché! Thanks Eddie for telling us all about
Eddie: Thanks David.
safetyrazors.co.uk - A good modern (or
vintage) safety razor will last a lifetime
Well, to be honest a group of us got
chatting about shaving and how we all
seemed to be spending more and more on
the three, four and five blade offerings
from the razor manufacturers. Also, no
matter how many blades were added, it
was still a case of squirting some goo
from a tin, rubbing it onto our face and
then dragging the latest razor across
for a very average shave. No real
thought, just a daily chore.
I decided to buy a modern safety razor,
some blades, proper soap and a shaving
brush. The really nice thing that I
found, right from that first shave was
that I actually thought about what I was
doing and actually enjoyed the
experience! What’s more I didn’t cut
myself and got the closest shave I’ve
ever had! That was it, I’ve never looked
back. Much less expensive and better for
the environment too!
The double-edged safety razor blades are
far less expensive than the latest multi
blades – see for yourself in our
catalogue. The safety razor blades are
also totally recyclable as they aren’t
encased in plastic, they are good
quality coated steel – just save the old
ones in an old steel drinks can (not an
aluminium coke can), crush it and pop it
in the recycling bin.
The soap also lasts far longer than
aerosol foam or gel and your skin will
feel much better too. So gentlemen, in
short we are being conned, the latest
semi-disposable razors rely on expensive
consumables (the blades) – the razor may
last you a year or two (until you are
forced to buy the next model or the
current one wears out) but you’ll spend
hundreds of pounds on blades.
A good modern (or vintage) safety razor
will last a lifetime and instead of
paying around £8 for four blades, you
pay around £1.50 for five to ten blades
and they’ll give you more shaves per
blade too! Well, here’s a chance to
change all this, try a safety razor and
see for yourself.
6 West Walpole Street
Tyne and Wear
Phone number: 0191 496 9988
Fax: 0191 496 9996