Taking a shower is typically reserved for mundane thoughts and absurd epiphanies. (Did I leave the stove on? What’s on the docket for dinner? Apple seriously missed a marketing opportunity by not dubbing its chargers Apple Juice.) But for Vancouverites and long-time friends Natalie Farrell and Emilie Johnson, the daily routine was where, one day, a sustainable business idea came to mind.
“Both of us have all these beautiful products lined up in glass jars [in our bathrooms], lots of them made from natural ingredients,” Farrell says of the duo’s personal-care products. “And then you’re kind of looking along and it’s like, ‘Oh, there’s that pink plastic razor.’ And there was no connection or relationship with that experience for either of us.”
Farrell, a marketing consultant, and Johnson, a woodworker, decided to combine their smarts to address the problem, which, after a little research, turned out to be a concerning one. In fact, the U.S.–based Environmental Protection Agency estimates that no fewer than two billion razors are tossed every year in the United States alone.
And although there are no available statistics for Canucks, it’s not hard to imagine that we’re flying through the plastics at a similarly alarming rate, given the sheer number of shave options—none of them recyclable in B.C., we might add—that line the shelves at your local drugstore or supermarket. “A disposable razor just seems so wrong,” Farrell says by phone. “We wanted to create something that you could reuse and have for a long time.”
The result? The Well Kept Original Razor, a handmade shaver with a sleek maple handle designed to both withstand wear and tear and look great stashed by your tub. Although the razor works with nonrecyclable blades that must eventually be swapped out (“We’d love to have some sort of model where we can collect the blades and do something with them,” Farrell explains), the founders hope that it will encourage folks to ditch fully expendable razors for good while elevating—ever so slightly—an everyday task that’s part of people’s personal-care regimens.
“We spend so much time shaving our legs,” Farrell says. “And so we wanted to create a product that aligned with what we do, what we believe in, and our aesthetic values.”
Available on its own ($32) or in a kit ($44 at select local retailers and on the Keep Well Kept website) that comes equipped with four three-blade cartridges and a sample of a soothing herbal bath soak that’s also offered under Farrell and Johnson’s Well Kept label, the razor is designed to offer users a close and comfortable shave.
Farrell notes that’s one benefit it has over stainless-steel safety options, which, while employing steel blades that can be recycled at select facilities, may be awkward for some to manoeuvre, especially when dealing with delicate parts of the body. “We were finding that a lot of them were too heavy to get that same shave,” she explains, adding that the Well Kept razor is also compatible with store-bought Venus or Gillette blades.
So while zero-waste advocates may eschew Well Kept for 100-percent-recyclable shavers, the Original Razor does offer an alternative to those seeking a product that is perhaps better tailored to their body. By offering bath-and-body items such as nourishing oils and agave-fibre exfoliating cloths, Farrell and Johnson hope they can inspire folks to celebrate the act of a little good ol’-fashioned self-care, too.
“Allow yourself to take the time and enjoy taking care of yourself,” Farrell says.