Happy Earth Day! | Out on the sandy river delta with friends of trees

Yesterday Portland Razor Co. had the great pleasure of getting the heck outside by volunteering with Friends of Trees! It has rained almost every day in Portland since OCTOBER (except for the days when it snowed or rained ice[???]), so the time spent outside in the sunshine was long overdue. As an aside to all friends in Chicago: sincerest apologies, but this winter was the worst and every arm chair therapist in Portland knows it! When the weather forecast said 70 F and sunny when I checked my weather app this morning, I’m pretty sure a single tear squeaked out.

Scott and Robin scoop mulch into buckets

Scott and Robin scoop mulch into buckets

In choosing to make straight razors it is we at Portland Razor Co.’s sincerest hope that shavers will elect to switch from disposable razors to the straight razor at least in part to reduce their own waste. Disposable razors, especially those attached to plastic handles, are thrown into landfills by the billions each year in the United States. Knowing that our straight razors will never be thrown away with proper care makes us warm and fuzzy and we hope you feel the same! With this commitment to the environment, we often seek other opportunities to leave the world better than we found it. To put our best foot forward in observance of Earth Day, yesterday morning the Portland Razor Co. team headed out to the Sandy River Delta to help Friends of Trees and the Sandy River Basin Watershed council care for native trees and plants that had been planted last winter.

Showing up without any information besides the address and that the work had something to do with mulch, I didn’t really know what to expect. The event organizers informed the group that the Sandy River Delta had been used as cow pastures starting in the 1930s when a small dam was built to limit the East Channel of the Sandy River and increase flow to the West Channel. The entire delta was eventually unusable for agriculture and the habitat of the native plants and wildlife had been destroyed. The dam was removed 10 years ago and the area has been undergoing native wildlife restoration with quite a bit of success! Native salmon, birds, and shallow-water creatures have returned to the area with the work of many many organizations coming together to make it happen. After we learned more about the project, the organizers taught us how to mulch and other things we could do to care for the plants to ensure they have a productive spring and summer. All told, we mulched and performed basic maintenance on hundreds of native trees and plants and left with smiles on our faces.

I cannot say enough about how approachable and fun the whole event was. If you are interested in getting outdoors in the Portland Area, Friends of Trees should be at the top of your list. Here is a link to their event calendar so you can find an event in your area (they also have events in Eugene and Salem). If your group is small enough you don’t even have to sign-up beforehand, you just show up! Whether it's switching lights off when you're not using them, riding your bike to work next week, or buying yourself a reusable water vessel to cut your plastic bottle habit, I hope you find your own way to care for our earth today.

 

Happy Earth Day from all of us at Portland Razor Co.

razor makers and friends of trees 2
 

Straight Razor Care and Honing Classes at Portland Razor Co!

From the beginning we set out to make heirloom-quality straight razors and strops here in the US. In addition, we make it our priority to provide our customers with all of the tools and knowledge they need for a great shave. When we first started straight shaving, we read countless posts and watched endless hours of videos on the Internet. We found these resources helpful, but who couldn't use a few moments (or days, weeks, months!) away from a screen? It has always been our intention to bring the online wet shaving community offline, to give it a physical space here in the Pacific Northwest.

With these goals in mind, we have organized a skill-building class at our SW Portland workshop to teach our customers how to maintain their straight razor. We hope to build an inclusive community around wet shaving and an appreciation for the straight razor as the best shaving tool out there.

Each class will be held on a Saturday 10:30-12:30 and be lead by a Portland Razor Co. bladesmith. There are no gear requirements; you don’t even have to be the proud owner of a PR straight razor yet! Students are welcome to bring their own honing stones and razors if they wish. Most importantly, bring yourself, be ready to learn, and prepare to make some friends

As a student, you can expect to leave the 2-hour class with a new Norton 4k/8k stone, a 1.5 oz can of ballistol, and the know-how to care for your straight razor all on your own. Class size is limited, so sign-up while space is available.

2017 Schedule:
1/21/17 10:30am-12:30pm
4/29/17 10:30am-12:30pm
7/8/17 10:30am-12:30pm
11/11/17 10:30am-12:30pm

Thank you for reading and for your continued support of Portland Razor Co. as we gear up for this exciting new offering. We hope to see you here in 2017!

PR Collaborators | Evan Worthington, Craftsman Soap Co.

PR Collaborators is a blog series highlighting hardworking individuals who help Portland Razor Co. be the best we can be. We consider the people and companies featured here to be integral to our success and hope our readers will show their support for these wonderful makers.

For us, Evan Worthington of Craftsman Soap Co. is a reminder that you just never know where the best opportunities will present themselves. In 2014, mere weeks after founding Portland Razor Co., Scott was hiking the Lost Coast Trail with some friends. It was one of those, “I haven’t seen you all in forever, let’s go sequester ourselves in the wilderness because it might be another 7 years before we get a chance to do this again.” kind of trips. Scott brought a few of his straight razors to show the group (engineers, product designers, and all-around studs themselves) in an effort to get some feedback. Greg, lovingly known as Big Greg, told Scott of his friend Evan who had a line of all-natural soaps and personal care products. Evan emailed us shortly after and the rest is history...

of evan worthington craftsman soap co

Q: Tell our readers about your business. What do you do? What is your company story?
A: Being the guy behind Craftsman Soap Company, the primary objective here is making soap. Of course I consider the formulating, perfumery, photography, and business aspects of the brand, but soap making is understandably at the core. I started making and selling soap professionally almost four years ago, and had made my own supplies for a few years before that. As I invested more time and energy, Craftsman Soap Company kind of naturally took shape. I’ve always wanted the principles of the business to center around a low-tech, handcrafted approach, and an attention to quality and origins of materials. So the products have always been natural, and for a long time now all ingredients have been botanically sourced, aside from the waxes and balms which rely on beeswax.

Q: Is being in LA important to you and your business? Why/why not?

A:I’d imagine this is true with most communities, but I feel a strong connection with the customers I have in Los Angeles. It’s a big community, but I still feel the connection. Being in LA, it feels good to build on the city’s contributions to the maker movement. I’m proud to print “Handcrafted in Los Angeles, California” on every box of soap.

Q:What sharp things do you use (knives, razors, axes, etc) at work? What tools are your favorite to use?

A:I probably have more sharp things than I need in the workshop, I’m a fan. I have a card scraper that is probably gets the most use. It’s just a thin card of stainless that’s intended for furniture making, but it works great to clear the workbench of soap, which tends to stick to everything. A guitar string isn’t really sharp, but it’s sharp enough to fulfill all my soap cutting needs. A nice heavy gauge E-string cuts a thin kerf without breaking. And of course a good knife for just about everything. There are always bags and boxes to open, and I’m always doing some urban foraging for sprigs of herbs, flowers, and plants for photography.

Q:Where do you look for inspiration?

A: I get a lot of inspiration from my senses when I explore a new ingredient, particularly sense of smell. As an example, with perfumery I’ll take a vial of a new essential oil - say, hay absolute - and I like to see where that sort of transports me. There’s the thematic level, where floral and herbal notes like lavender and yarrow come to mind if you were to imagine a field, but there’s also the pairing of complementary scents from unexpected origins, say a citrus or a spice from thousands of miles away. In the same way those scents come together, oils and waxes can come together in soaps and balms just as harmoniously, and that harmony is very inspiring.

Q: We love your product. In your own words, what’s better about it than its big-box store competitors?

A: Being handmade certainly sets my products apart from big-box competitors, but I’m also able to address a niche audience who has an appreciation for quality and originality. I get to pull from a much broader pool of ingredients, enough to be a logistical nightmare for a factory. The choice from the very beginning to be palm free and to use sustainable and natural ingredients also sets Craftsman Soap Co. apart.

craftsman soap co product 2

Q: What is the most “Portland” thing to ever happen to you?

A: I think most of the ‘Portland’ happenings in my life are pretty self-imposed. At one point I was keeping chickens and bees in the backyard, and spending a lot of time at a community ceramics studio, so every ‘what else do you do’ conversation felt pretty Portlandesque. There was also the time I went car-free for a month. Trying to explain how that was voluntary was pretty difficult.

Q: Do you straight shave? If not, would you consider it?

A: I don’t straight shave, but I do use a safety razor. Hopefully I get some credit for that? A friend who blacksmiths in his garage forged a solid steel razor with a wedge grind that he gave me, I use it from time to time, but it definitely takes patience and skill. I’ve definitely drawn blood more than once.

craftsman soap co products 3

Q; What is one thing you wish more of your customers knew about you or your work?

A:I make a concerted effort to act and appear professionally, but I think this throws people off sometimes, so I have to laugh when people mistake Craftsman Soap Company for something much larger. I wish more customers knew that while everything here is professional, it is still a small and genuinely handcrafted operation. There’s no gimmick or smokescreen, I legitimately weigh and blend every ingredient by hand, cut every bar of soap myself, and pour every ounce of oil, after shave, or wax into their respective bottles and tins

Q: How can readers get in touch with you?

A:Readers can find us at www.craftsmansoapco.com and reach out directly either through the contact forms on the website, at the Craftsman Soap Co. page on Facebook, on Instagram @craftsmansoapco, or by emailing us directly at hello@craftsmansoap.com.

Thank you, Evan! Keep up the good work!

The Top 5 Reasons to Shave with a Straight Razor

Wondering if shaving with a straight is right for you?

Straight shaving can have a meaningful impact on your physical, emotional, and financial well-being while reducing your impact on the environment. By deciding to become a straight shaver, you are resolving to take back control of your shave, transforming a loathsome chore into an enjoyable, empowering ritual. Here are our top 5 reasons you should be shaving with a straight razor.

top 5 reasons to straight razor shave

Portland Razor Company’s TOP 5 REASONS TO SHAVE WITH A STRAIGHT RAZOR

1: Straight Shaving is Good For Your Skin.

Gentle exfoliation, like the kind you get from straight shaving and using a shaving brush, can be great for skin health. Exfoliation removes the topmost layer of dead skin cells and promotes new cell growth, collagen production, and improved circulation. Shaving with a straight razor and applying lather with a shaving brush are two great ways to add this kind of beneficial exfoliation to your shaving routine. The brush lifts hair and dirt off the skin while applying lather and moisture, and provides the most gentle exfoliation. The straight razor clears dead cells, dirt, and lather away in one clean stroke, and your technique can be modified to provide a more or less aggressive shave.
Straight shaving is cleaner than shaving with cartridge or electric razors, reducing the risk of common skin infections like ingrown hairs, razor burn and razor bumps. Safety bars, lubricating strips, multiple blades and motors are difficult to clean and can clog with hair, skin, soap, and dirt. This can cause the blades to rust, become dull, and grow harmful bacteria which increase the risk of these aforementioned infections. A quality straight razor made with high carbon steel and proper heat treatment will take and hold a sharper edge over cheap stainless blades, and can be cleaned between each and every pass, making for a sharper, cleaner, closer shave.

2: Straight Shaving is Good for Your Brain.

Learning new skills that use both hemispheres of your brain--this study suggests digital photography or quilting--improves cognitive function, memory, and coordination. The catch is: you have to keep learning new skills to continue receiving these benefits. You can get started with straight shaving knowing only the basics of shaving and stropping, but there are many learning opportunities within the world of straight shaving. Learn to hone your straight razor, build the perfect lather, set your razor into some primo scales. While we are happy to do some of these things for you, we think you will enjoy performing them yourself once you get your feet wet -- why should we be the ones to have all the fun?
Many use straight shaving as an opportunity to meditate, which has been shown to lower stress and boost your immune system. Folks who practice this type of meditation in the morning claim that it sets them up for a more productive day. Evening shavers benefit, too! Performing an analog task like meditating or straight shaving an hour before bed--especially as part of a routine--instead of being sedentary in front of a glowing screen makes it easier to fall asleep, and improves the quality of your sleep.

3: Straight Shaving Saves You Money.

A well-cared-for straight razor should provide a lifetime of shaves and save you hundreds of dollars each year! Some savings are pretty obvious, like never needing to buy refills, sign up for a subscription, or drive to the store for blades ever again. But straight shaving saves you money in less obvious ways, too. It reduces the amount of waste you create, which in turn decreases your waste disposal bill. Harder to measure--but even more important--is the reduced pressure on landfills, which are expensive to construct, fill, and close; never mind the cost of environmental cleanup as a consequence of poorly-constructed or improperly-sealed landfills!
You can enjoy all of these savings even after accounting for startup costs and recurring costs for sharpening services! The key to getting the most out of your straight razor is in taking care of it: keeping it dry, stropping it properly, and having it honed when necessary will reduce wear and prolong its usable life and further extend your savings, even into the next generation. Long-term costs can be reduced further by purchasing a good stone and learning to hone your straight razor on your own.

4: Straight Razors are Good for the Environment.

Straight shaving is a zero-waste solution. With nothing to buy or throw away, it’s the best shaving method for the environment and a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint. Every year, 68 million American men throw away 2 billion disposable razors, generating 34 million cubic feet of hazardous, non-recyclable waste. This adds to 250+ million tons of new trash, 13% of which is plastic. In short, making the change to straight shaving is a meaningful step for the environmentally-conscious.
You can improve the environmental impact of your other shaving and grooming goods as well. We recommend natural, sustainable products from responsible sources, like those made by our friends at Craftsman Soap Co. From the Craftsman Soap Co website:

“We use recyclable packaging, post-consumer recycled papers and soy inks, and have always made our products free of palm oil because of its reputation for destructive farming practices. Coconut oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter together create an alternative to palm oil that we believe creates a richer, fuller lather and a better bar of soap.”

5: As a Straight Shaver, You Have Control.

Straight shaving gives you total control over your shaving experience. While most razors are made one-size-fits-most, the straight razor is truly flexible. Sensitive skin? Curly hair? Kevlar growing out of your face? Your technique, angle and pressure can be modified for the ideal shave without having to change products or pay extra, and being able to take care of your own straight razor lets you know for sure that it is clean and sharp before every shave. A straight razor is a product that will treat you well if you treat it respectfully and responsibly, and taking good care of it will prolong its life and improve the quality of your shaves for years to come.

Other Sources Cited:
"Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in the United States: Facts and Figures." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2014.
Clarke, Arthur C. "Solid and Hazard Waste." Solid and Hazard Waste. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2014.