PR Collaborators | Rick Molitor of New Basin Distilling

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.

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We met Rick Molitor of New Basin Distilling Co in 2015 via a chance encounter and, as one does over a dram of good American whiskey, we hatched an idea. Rick had just finished bottling a batch of Resignation Rye and needed to retire one of the Oregon white oak barrels used to age it. Though no longer useful for aging fine liquor, Rick hoped we might be able to turn it into something other than firewood. We happily obliged by making a limited set of co-branded Cascade Steel straight razors with unique engravings and scales which showed off the unique character of charred, rye-stained Oregon white oak. Rick has helped us over the years to raise funds and awareness for men’s health issues, supported our business by co-sponsoring events, and keeps our friends and clients happy with a steady flow of luxurious libations at the Portland Shave Shop.

Q: Tell our readers about your business. What do you do? What is your company story?

New Basin Distilling Company is a true Farm to Bottle distillery. We are proud to take our own farm grown grain and turn it into liquid magic. Our story started like any group of drinking buddies. It doesn't take long

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

This is a catch 22 - we love Oregon. 3 of the 5 New Basin partners are multi-generational Oregonian. We have fertile fields for our grain production and the world's best water-Opal Springs water can't be beat for natural purity and flavor. Being 100% Distilled in Oregon is important to us. However, the business climate and tax structure for distilled spirits in Oregon is a huge obstacle for Oregon distilleries. The current tax structure on distilled spirits range from 31 to 51% of the listed price just in Oregon. With these numbers, along with local and Federal taxes we are starting to see distilleries close or move out of the State.

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

We love the collaboration with Portland Razor with the creation of a razor with scales made from one of our Resignation Rye Whiskey barrels. This is the sharpest item I've carried in our tasting room.

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

I have received many straight razor shaves but never shaved myself. Would love to learn!

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Q: Where do you look for inspiration?

My son is currently attending OSU in the Food Science/Fermentation Studies Program. He has helped New Basin Distilling create more efficient and effective distilling procedures. I'm excited for younger distillers to challenge and change the landscape of what make a true American Whiskey.

Q: We love your product and are proud to serve it in our barbershop! In your own words, what’s better about it than its big-box store competitors?

You really can't compare locally grown, milled, mashed, fermented and distilled product. I can literally walk you into one of our rye and wheat field. Also, as stated above, naturally raw and untouched water from Opal Springs makes our whiskey that much better!

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

Serving New Basin Distilling Cocktails at a Portland Fashion Week party!

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

How passionate and true we are to making an amazing Farm-to-Bottle Oregon Whiskey!

Q: How can readers get in touch with you?

Get a bottle at your local liquor store, swing in the distillery at 2063 NW Andrews Dr. Madras, OR, 97741 give us a call at 541-980-4595, on the web at www.newbasin.com, follow us on Facebook @NewBasinDistilling or search #newbasindistilling

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It's time for a good old-fashioned rant : 1 minute on an american-made soap box

Portland Razor Co. received an email from Gold Dollar this morning asking if we would like them to manufacture our straight razors for us. I followed the link they had sent and found it odd that I recognized the photos (having never looked into buying a gold dollar myself). Look familiar? They stole photos I took for our manufacturing page and are using them to market their own razors!! To Gold Dollar's credit: someone over there knows their way around photoshop and did an excellent job replacing our logo with theirs!

gold dollar straight razor stolen photos

A few thoughts on this:

  1. I'm pretty sure this isn't how they make their razors, but it IS how we make our razors!
  2. Gold Dollar claiming images of our straight razor manufacturing process as their own is intentionally misleading and co-opts the authenticity of us smaller makers who take time and care in our process. It says, "this wasn't made in a black box overseas. Look! This was made by a real person. You can trust us as much as you trust small batch manufacturers!" But the truth is, you can't!
  3. I've seen much discussion and many many examples in the past year of larger faceless corporations ripping off independent artists on Instagram. This is a massive problem in the age of the Internet and it is a fact of life that it is hard to take the bad with the good. While sometimes legal action can play out in favor of the independent artists, there is a great deal of power which lies with you, our audience and customers, to choose to support us: the originals, the artists and makers who work hard to produce quality work and push our own limits every day. I hope you see the benefit of supporting small, honest companies such as our own. I want to re-enforce that your support and contributions never ever go underappreciated.
  4. We've been meaning to update our manufacturing page, so this gives us a pretty good reason.
  5. And OF COURSE, all of our razors will always and forever be American Made.
 
stolen gold dollar straight razor photo with photo shop skills

Aaanyways, looking forward to meeting Scott's hand twin in China some day! Happy Wednesday everyone!

P.S. we won't hold it against you if you share this with people you know who also care about the integrity and quality of the goods they purchase with their hard-earned money! ;)

 

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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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!

Whiskey Town & Production Updates

The layout for this weekend's event. Look for Portland Razor Co in "Whiskey Trading Post West!"

The layout for this weekend's event. Look for Portland Razor Co in "Whiskey Trading Post West!"

Portland Razor Co. will be attending the 3rd annual Whiskeytown USA in Portland this weekend as a vendor. Come check us out to get a first look at our new Artisan straight razors, handmade badger brushes, and shaving soaps by Craftsman Soap Company!

This event will take us away from the workshop for a few days, meaning no razors will be made during that time. We apologize for this delay; we know many of you have been waiting longer than expected and we understand this can be frustrating at times. We are exceedingly grateful for your patience and we appreciate your faith in us! We are confident our handmade straight razors will exceed your expectations and are well-worth the wait. We are actively scaling up production by adding new blade smiths, and if you or someone you know might be interested in becoming an apprentice at Portland Razor Co, you should check out our hiring notice!