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One woman versus the billion dollar male shaving industry

Lizzi Hines, a New Zealand entrepreneur and founder of design company Spaceworks, has launched an online shaving company she hopes will take on the big boys of the shaving industry. Called Shave Union, it offers a home-delivered razor subscription that Hines says simplifies a weekly chore.

Coughing up for a fancy razor with all the bells and whistles is expensive, Hines says, and buying new shavers is a bit of a chore.

This is where Shave Union comes in, Hines says, and makes the process a whole lot simpler.

The site offers a monthly razor subscription with two options: six blades a month for $14 and three blades a month for $10.

Though the razor is cheap, it’s not the cheapest of blades – Countdown offers a 10 pack of disposable razors for $8.99.

But Hines’ premise is that convenience is king, and it’s no different when it comes to shaving.

Just look at the success of food delivery services like My Food Bag and Farro Foodkits or dog treat delivery companies Bow Wow Box and Pet Parcel fighting over the market space.

Overseas, the online razor delivery subscription model has been a hit, with the likes of US-based Dollar Shave Club, which offers a razor subscription for under US$10 a month.

CEO Mike Dubin’s out-of-nowhere ad to launch the company in 2012 went viral online.

The company now boasts 1.7 million members and turned over US$65 million in 2014.

It has a 3.4 percent share of the US shaving market and has launched into new areas: hair products, shaving cream and even butt wipes.

Dollar Shave Club doesn’t ship in New Zealand, so Hines is one of the first to test the shaving subscription waters in New Zealand. Razor Blades New Zealand is another site offering subscriptions.

The Shave Union website launches here this week and Hines says it will soon be rolled out across the ditch in Australia, where it will be up against stiffer competition, including Dollar Shave Club.

The delivery service has something for everyone, from those who like a smooth baby face to those who sprout a Viking-like beard within days.

The six blades a month option is for a “hairy bear lad”, or if he has a razor thief (significant other) in his midst.

The three blades a month option for blokes of the bum fluff variety, as well as hipsters who are looking to grow a lush, long beard.

There’s also a SOS (save our shave) option for emergency hairy situations where a vital component of the razor has been lost. It costs $5 for a handle and blade.

A panel of guys of varying degrees of stubble have tried and tested the blades, and Hines says she stands by their quality.

They’re not the fancy types that vibrate or have lights, but Hines reckons all that other stuff is superfluous to a great shave.

“We’re not going caving with the razors and we’re certainly not in the pleasure industry. We are in the business of delivering great quality shavers at an even better price.”

It’s atypical for a woman to be fronting a male shaving company, but Hines says the men in her life have inspired her.

Lizzi Hines

Her husband, two fathers, son and male business mentors have helped her a great deal with her company Spaceworks, so she says this a way of giving back.

“My other businesses have come about because of the men in my life and now it’s time I pay it forward,” she says.

Shave Union is very tongue in cheek about the service it offers, but it gets serious with donating part of its profits.

It diverges from Dollar Shave Club’s model by donating 10 percent of every order each month to a Kiwi that needs a leg up in life.

The company is aiming to get 10,000 subscriptions by early next year, which means they’ll be giving away $5000 to $10,000 a month.

A panel of three will select the man deserving of the funds on a monthly basis.

The funds could go towards a variety of men in need, Hines says, like someone trying to start up a business, or someone who wants to take time off work to spend time with their dying wife.

Though the service is very focused male-orientated at the moment, Hines says women are definitely not out of the question and to “watch this space”.

Grooming products are also on the agenda for next year. 

This article was originally published on our sibling website, The Register

Elly is Idealog's editor and resident dog enthusiast. She enjoys travelling, tea, good books, and writing about exciting ideas and cool entrepreneurs.

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