Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Can I Pay You Later...



   If you have been in the barbering industry for any length of time, you have undoubtably come across a situation similar to this: a customer walks in and sits down for a haircut. You take the next 30 minutes fading, trimming, and shaving. You talk about work, family, upcoming plans, and maybe he'll even brag a little about his latest and greatest toys. But when the customer gets up, you hear those dreaded words—"oh, sorry bro. I left my wallet at home. Can I get you next time?" 

   You can't take back that haircut you did! You already performed your service, and now Joe Shmo can't pay you. What do you do? Sure, if the bloke is a regular customer and you can trust him to remember, then there's no issue. That relationship is established, and you know he'll be back within a week (and with an even bigger tip for your patience), but what about the guy who's in your shop for the first time? Or what about the guy who has a track record of always coming up short? Here are a few ideas to get the gears turning: 

1) "Go grab it. I'm here till 5."

It is completely acceptable to change the offer. He offers to pay you next time he's in, which could be a week or two down the road. Encourage him to make his next visit before the end of the working day. If it's later in the afternoon, make sure he knows what time you open the following day, and that you will be waiting. Assertiveness CAN be your friend! 

2) "I'll put your name up."

This "pay you next time" gimmick is more common in certain areas than others. Some of you may have only had this once or twice, and it was with a friend. Others may experience this guy on a weekly basis. If your shop has the misfortune of entertaining a few of these no-pay-guys, perhaps you may consider a visible white board. 

Every time this gent "forgets" his wallet, or simply doesn't have the funds to pay you, grab his name (and perhaps his number?) and slap it up on the white board for everyone to see. The "Board of Shame," if you will. Restaurants do this same thing, but with pictures of those who have "dined and dashed," which if you think about it is the exact same thing happening with you. You provide a service, you spend a half hour at your trade doing the best work you can, then this guy takes your lunch, eats it right in front of you, then leaves without paying the tab. A "Board of Shame" might seem a little extreme, but at the expense of your trade, budget, and bills? It might be what you need to get paid in a timely manner, IF this is something you experience often. And let's face it, nobody want to be on a Board of Shame.

3) "What can you trade?"

This is something to consider when the customer doesn't have any funds. It can be an honest mistake: the bloke goes to pay you, then realizes that unexpected bills came out, and he has no funds in his checking account. We have all been there. No need to throw his name up on the Board of Shame, he's already ashamed enough, and you can tell. Perhaps there's something he can trade you? I'm not going to begin to elaborate on what this trade might look like, as everyone is different, but personally I wouldn't mind a tin of pipe tobacco (just saying!). Bartering can be a smart tool to use in situations like this, and it offers the ability to get creative with payment methods! 

4) "No." 

For some of you, this situation might be a little different: instead of forgetting his wallet, or not having funds AFTER the cut, this bloke will ask if he can pay you another time BEFORE he gets a cut. The conversation usually goes something like, "Hey bro, I have a job interview tomorrow morning, and I need a trim, so can I pay you when I get my first pay check?" 

Ok, there's a few ways to go about this. First, if he's a friend or a regular customer, discretion is king. If you can trust him, then maybe you help a brother out and he'll return the favor. However, if you don't know this guy, then saying "NO!" Is a completely acceptable answer! Setting and establishing boundaries is important in relationships, and if this guy wants to start a relationship between himself and his barber, then asking for a "free cut" probably isn't a good way to start off on the right foot. Do not feel guilt-tripped into providing a service that you may or may not get paid for, unless you feel a wave of generosity overtake you, then do what ever you want—give free cuts all day, first come first serve. But something tells me you probably won't do that. 

5) "There's plenty of shops in town—see you later." 

If this is a reoccurring instance with a gent who seems to always be losing his wallet, or is always low on cash or bank funds, the perhaps you might consider tell him to go to another shop. You're already not making any money off him, so why continue to waste your time hoping he'll return with cash? The first time something like this happens, get creative in getting your payment, but if wallet-man always comes in looking for a cut with no cash or card, then suggesting a rival shop in the area might be good? Ok, maybe not a "rival" shop—we're all friends here, right? 

At the end of the day, your judgement and discernment is key. Do you know the person? Will they return the favor to you later? Does this person need to find a new barber? There's always going to be an individual who will seek to undermine or abuse the system, so it's up to you to develop the reasoning skills to conclude if this customer simply had a bad day and left his wallet at home, or if you need to apply the "Ban-Hammer" and bar an individual from coming back. Keep in mind, the individual who made an honest mistake can be a customer for life, while the individual who abuses the system will only steal time from you, and time is money, is it not?

If you are looking for some new razors or other barber gear please take a moment to download our app "MD Barber Supply" or check us out online at www.mdbarber.com!

-Tyler

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Growing Your Barbershop’s Business

   The barbering industry is a competitive market, and customers are not guaranteed to choose your shop over another down the road. Customer preference, regional demographics, local economy, and shop location certainly play key roles in helping your shop become the customer’s favorite place for a cut. But getting the word out can be rather difficult, even if you happen to be in the prime location for your area. People are getting haircuts, there is no doubt about that, so the task at hand is not convincing someone that they need to get a new haircut—the task is convincing them that they need to get a haircut at YOUR shop! 

   A barbershop in rural Ohio is going to use different methods of advertisement than say a barbershop in San Antonio, so ensure that you investigate your immediate demographic and adjust advertisement accordingly, and while non-locals are always appreciated, keep in mind that the local customer is your lifeblood—not the guy you see once a year, or maybe who you ever only see once. 

   Below are a few areas to focus on to help increase your barbershop’s business, all of which can be personally tailored to your needs, but keep in mind that success is not based off of one of these (or only these!) tips alone—success in the barbering industry is a combination of these tips and learning what makes your customer tick. 

1. Social Media

   Here's the nice thing about social media—its generally free. Of course, certain social media sites allow for paid advertisement, but that is up to the user to decide. Social media can be fairly tricky, and it does require quite a bit of maintenance, however it has the ability to reach a large audience at all times of the day. People flip through their phones quite a bit, so why not have them reminded of your shop while they scroll through Facebook? Another wonderful thing about social media is the volume of media outlets you can pursue: Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, and now even Pokemon Go are all outlets that can be used. There are customers who use all of the mentioned social media sites, but there are also those who only use one or two, so expanding your social media presence can ensure that your shop is getting the attention it deserves. 

   While social media is generally free, it is certainly not useful for every shop. Keep in mind your demographic—do identified customers in your area use smartphones? I know that sounds crazy to ask, but I was recently in a smaller town in Oregon where the general population of cowboys and grain elevator workers made it difficult to spot anyone out in public with a smartphone. However, in this smaller town, I counted 5 barbershops. While one of these 5 shops might use or have a social media account, it probably wont help bring in traffic with a people group who use radios more than smartphones. That being said, lets look at the flip side. I was also recently in Scotland, and while visiting shops in Glasgow I noticed an entire corner where 3 or 4 different barbershops were literally touching. Each shop window had information for various social media outlets, and even advertised social media deals. Social media defiantly brings business to these shops, even with the highly competitive location.  
Only $18.99 at www.mdbarber.com

   To learn more on equipping your shop with social media tools, check out Dave Diggs’ book “How to Grow Your Business: Social Media Strategies for Barbers & Stylists.” In it, Dave specifically mentions successful ways to engage with customers of social media interfaces so that your can maximize your regular customers as well as your walk-in foot traffic.

2. Atmosphere


   Your shop’s style has the ability to make or break customer relations. The first thing that should be mentioned is that “more expensive” does not always mean “better.” Im not saying that you need to go all out and invest tons of money and man hours in making some state of the art shop. What I am saying is that your customer has a preference, and this preference is “comfort.” The customer wants to be comfortable! Look at your target demographic—do they like barn wood walls and vintage barbershop tools hanging from strange contraptions? No? Then don't include them within your shop! 

   I have visited shops where the atmosphere was counter-culture to the neighborhood, and therefore received little traffic. For example, I visited a shop that was completely decked out with contemporary vibe—wooden walls, big glass display cases for expensive artisan products, 60 year old barbering chairs, a few trendy barbers, etc…but there was no one in the shop. Furthermore, according to Yelp reviews, the barbers gave a clean cut, so skill was not a issue. I went a block or two down to another shop, and here was a single barber cutting hair in a simple shop. A no frills, simple shop. And he was packed! The neighborhood didn't want a “trendy shop,” they wanted a simple shop. 


   On the flip side, here in my hometown in Idaho, customers prefer the trendy shop. Know your demographics, and adjust your shops aesthetics and atmosphere accordingly. Keep in mind, it might not be the direction that you prefer, but you are looking at increasing your barbershops business, right? Sometimes in order to do so, as the shop owner or manager, you have to sacrifice personal preference to give way for the customer's preference. 

3. Banners, Flags, & Poles


   The universal sign of a barbershop—the classic red, white, and blue barber pole. As much as we have been discussing the regular customer and the value that the regular customer brings to your shop, its time to introduce the “walk-in.” We briefly touched on the subject a little earlier, but lets expand a little more now. The non-locals who come to a city for business or for pleasure are generally unaware of shops in your area. The first thing someone is likely to do is Google or Yelp search “Barber Shops” and read the reviews and look at pictures of you and other shops in the area. Now, a shop can have wonderful Yelp reviews by the locals, but if it is not marked well, the non-locals will not be able to find it! Since I visit shops nearly every week, I come across this often. A shop will get plenty of warm reviews on social media, but the actual shop is hidden somewhere in a shopping mall or moved locations and never updated information. Regardless, there is usually something that accompanies this instance—another shop close by that is clearly marked with a large barber flag near the road, a clear shop sign, and the classic barbershop pole. Even though I was not originally looking for this marked shop, be sure I am making my way through their door. 

   No, the non-local is not the lifeblood of your business, however this demographic can bring welcomed “bonuses” in certain seasons. Lets build a scenario: suppose your town or city hosts a yearly event. For my hometown, we have Ironman competitions. Whenever this yearly event takes place, people from all over the world flock in droves for up to two weeks at a time to our city. Barbershops EXPLODE during this time, and it is very difficult for the regulars to make appointments, yet alone try to even walk-in. What event or season do you have in your town that would make for a solid two-week profit? Whatever it may be, keep your shop clearly identifiable. Even if the shop a few blocks down has better reviews, since your shop is marked better, you may receive more traffic. Here at MD Barber Supply, we carry quite a few different barber poles to grab passerby attention. Take a at our Barber Pole Selection

4. Relationships


   Most importantly, understand that growing your business is about growing relationships. People interact differently with their barber than they do with say their local gas-station. Gas-station “loyalty” is not really something you hear of. Sure, there are those out there who want to get the cheapest haircut and will go from shop to shop looking for the “cheap” deals. Let them go. Thats not your lifelong customer, and not someone who is wanting to develop a relationship. Barbering is a personal business, and a customer will continue to return week after week if they feel as though they are personally connected with their barber. A few weeks ago I was watching “Family Feud” with Steve Harvey, and one of the themes was along the lines of “Who is likely to know your true character?” Number 1 was “your spouse”, number 2 was “your pastor,” and following after was “your barber.” Look at your top customers. How well do you know them? What is their wife’s name? How many kids do they have? Where did they go on vacation this past summer? Get to know your customers and become relationally invested with them, and you will have a dedicated and loyal customer, and if you are lucky, maybe even a friend. 

   Relationship is a core value for MD Barber Supply. When we are serving customers, we  are serving individuals, not just some voice on the phone or a few words in an email. We are serving fathers, husbands, mothers, and students. People with stories that we care about. Look at our giveaways we do every week—the competitions are usually personal in nature! Show us a picture of a recent haircut you did, or have a customer tag you & MD Barber in a post, etc, etc…I make every effort that I can to visit barber shops in different areas near our main office.  We care about you, your shops, and even your customers, so what better way to show that we care than to visit your shops and get to know you even better? When you think about it, relationship in the barbering industry is really at the core of what we do. Invest in your customers relationally, and watch as your business grows exponentially. Simply cut hair and push customers out the door, and you will forever be wondering why your business is stagnant. 

   These are just a few examples of growing your barbering business. By utilizing social media in order to advertise, considering the atmosphere of your shop in comparison to the area’s demographic, clearly identifying your shop, and investing in your customers relationally, you have the ability grow your business into a thriving local hot spot. And remember, MD Barber Supply is here to serve your barbering needs all along the way! 


-Tyler

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

In Depth Product Review: Barber Box V5

For most barbers 90% of your income comes from haircuts done in a shop.  For some barbers however, being willing to travel to the customers' location has unlocked clientelle and has helped fill in the gaps when times are slow or you are between shops.  The Barber Box V5 was made for the professional mobile barber.

If you have never considered offering mobile services consier the following facts: (1) Many clients are willing to pay $40-$100 for a home/office visit.  Busy Clients may want you to come to their office to cut their hair.  Elderly clients may be unable to travel to a barber shop.  (2) Being a mobile barber means low expenses.  You don't have to rent a chair or pay comission on mobile barbering resulting in huge savings. (3) It's a great way to sneak in a few haircuts on your off days when the shop is closed or when it is after hours and you want to close the shop.

Whatever your reason for pursuing mobile barber servies - there is no other carrying case designed so perfectly to meet the needs of a barber.  We know barbers and our experience shows in our products!  The key differences between the barber boxes and other boxes are:

SIZE: the V5 is 36% bigger then the competition.  It's hard to tell in photos but this box is big. This is important for ensuring you can fit all your tools in the box.

 
36% Larger than other boxes, holds 8+ Clippers!

STAND: The V5 can be ordered with an optional four-legged, collapsable stand.

CASH: The V5 features a secret location for storing change and tips.

False Bottom Hides Cash

SPEED: The V5 is the ONLY box that allows you to leave all your clippers plugged in while you travel by using a secure ONE PLUG system.

ONE PLUG AND DONE

 SECURITY: The V5 features two separately programmable combination locks allowing 1,000,000 possible combinations.

Double Combination Locks

STAYS PUT: The lid can be held at 90 degrees to allow maximum access to tools.


LOW PROFILE: The lid is completely removable for use at a barber station in a shop.


DURABLE: Steel corner guards protect the box and your tools from damage.



If you have any questions about the Barber Box V5, please just give us a call at (866) 939 5588 and we will help you decide if this box is right for you!

Overnight shipping is available, for more information visit 

www.mdbarber.com

Monday, August 29, 2016

   One of the more common trimmer families in the barbering market is the Outliner series from Andis. Of all the trimmers on the market, Andis has repeatedly proven their quality time and time again, something that many of the other brands have not been able to do. Yet no trimmer is perfect: the Outliner series has one unfortunate flaw which turns many barbers away - it gets hot.  Like... surface of the sun hot.

   If you have had the privilege of being able to wield one of these tools, more than likely your biggest (and probably your only) complaint would be how hot the trimmer gets after a client or two. Here at MD Barber Supply, we set out a few years ago to remedy this situation. The Outliner series of trimmers are certainly good products, so without trying to “recreate the wheel,”  we set out to pave the way so you can keep your beloved product, yet make it more comfortable in your hands—the Trimmer Tux was introduced.

   In order to develop the Trimmer Tux, a ‘trimmer tight’ sleeve which hugs the Andis,  the crew at MD Barber Supply needed to gather information on the issue being described by those who use the trimmers every day. After talking to barbers and getting feedback, the crew decided that the remedy to the trimmer would need to serve multiple purposes—
  1. COMFORT: It would need to make the feel of the trimmer more comfortable compared to the hard plastic shell.
  2. GRIP: It would need to offer better grip from common barbering hazards, i.e., sweaty palms, shaving cream on your hands, aftershave.
  3. COOL: It would need to most importantly reduce the heating issue. 
    MD made the Trimmer Tux with heat reducing material, so after 20 minutes of testing, the temperature of the unit tested at 81 degrees, only 6 degrees warmer than when it was first turned on. This heat reducing material boasts contoured grips which help prevent your hands from sweating, not just helping with grip from sweaty hands! Why stop at better grip from sweat when you can prevent sweat from even happening AND increase the grip on the unit? This material also reduces the vibration from the unit for a more clean and precise cut, and even acts as a buffer from falls and drops. Think of it as a phone case for your trimmer.


   In order to find out just how hot the trimmer gets, the crew at MD Barber Supply took an Andis Outliner and left it on for 20 minutes. At the beginning of the test, the trimmer tested at 75 degrees. By the end of the test, the trimmer had reached 120 degrees! 120! I don’t know about you, but I use this trimmer for more than 20 minutes a day. Some of you already have experiences with the trimmer getting so hot that you actually bought 2 or 3 of them in order to give them the time to cool down between customers. The solution was simple, and the MD Trimmer Tux met each of the needs.

Here is our video temperature test:


  The MD Trimmer Tux fits the Andis 4710, G, GTO, SL, SLS, and GTX. It comes in black, white, grey, yellow, pink, blue, and red. At an MSRP of $14.99, can your hands afford to not invest in such a great accessory? You can find this very product and many more at mdbarber.com, or on our mobile app on Google Play and the App Store. Happy cutting!

For more info check out our previous youtube review here:


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Exposed Blade Sicilian Razor for Barbers

   One of the biggest frustrations with using a Shavette style razor is not being able to see what you are doing. Usually, the blade is recessed in the action, whether swing-lock or carriage-slide, so that a small sliver is exposed. As a barber, if you are simply squaring the neck line or working any kind of facial areas, this isn't a big deal. Theres enough space to work around—but one of the emerging themes in professional barbering is the art of design! I have seen some of the work you guys do. Team logos, stars, tribal designs, maybe even the freaking Mona Lisa! I have even seen women sitting in barber chairs getting some kind of design on the back of their lower neck from some of you gentlemen. One of the complaints we have heard here at MD Barber Supply is that the standard Shavette handles do not easily accommodate this kind of design work, so the team set out to fix that issue. The Sicilian was born. 

MD BARBER Sicilian Exposed Blade Razor
   When the crew at MD Barber created The Sicilian razor, the most important thing that needed to be addressed was the amount of blade exposure. As previously mentioned, most Shavette style razors have a small sliver of blade exposure, so it is easy for the blade holder to obscure the work area in tight and intricate spaces. To fix this, the handle was redesigned, and the result is beautiful! The Sicilian boasts an impressive 5X the amount of exposure than any other blade on the market. That allows you as the barber to see your work area even better! Another added benefit is that the exposed blade can also act as a parter: I was speaking to a barber in Seattle who has used The Sicilian for a few months, and he was saying that the extra exposure allows him to part the customers hair in the intricate spaces, something which he had to use two hands to do before. 
   It seems so simple, yet it had never been done before! If the handle is obscuring the work area, increase the blade exposure! Even though this seems magical, there are a few things to consider about The Sicilian, so lets draw a pro and con list. 
   We already know the pros—great blade exposure, and utilizing the exposure to part hair in intricate spaces—but theres one thing to consider about The Sicilian, which isn't necessarily a con, rather more of a restriction. The increased blade exposure allows for the blade to be more pliable than if it were further recessed, so using The Sicilian as a general razor for squaring the neck line or performing full facial work might result in you being more prone to cut the customer. This razor is not intended to replace your current general usage cutter, rather is is intended to be an added tool for the intricate work you do. This is not to say that you cant use The Sicilian for general squaring, just keep in mind that you would need to be extra careful in your work! As stated, this isn't so much of a con as much as it is a restriction or word of advice. 

  • Pros
    • Maximum blade exposure
    • Can be used as a parting tool 

  • Cons
    • The blade exposure results in a more pliable blade, so you need to be conscientious of your workmanship as not to cut the customer.

  What started as an experiment has now turned into one of MD Barber Supplies best selling products. The Sicilian razor is a welcomed innovation in the barbering community, and something that can quite possibly change your barbering game! Its available on mdbarber.com, the MD Barber app in the app stores, and through phone orders. If you are performing intricate design work, this tool might just become your best friend!

Click here to read more reviews of this product: https://www.mdbarber.com/MD-barber-sicilian-straight-razor-p/md0055.htm

Happy cutting! 


—Tyler 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Straight Razor: Straight-Edge or the Disposable Blade?
USA Flag Razor (Shave Ready)
by Tyler Lowe

I travel to quite a few barber shops in any given month, and I am frequently asked by barbers and shaving enthusiasts alike, “which is better—a traditional straight-edge razor, or a Shavette (disposable blade) razor?” Now, before dismissing this topic thinking that the traditional straight-edge razor is prohibited in your state, I urge you to specifically research your state’s barbering regulations (SPOILER ALERT: Contrary to popular belief, California and Washington both allow for traditional straight edge razors! *WAC 308-20-110 & barbercosmo.ca.gov; Article 12, Title 16, Div. 9, No. 977*). This article will be focusing on three aspects of each razor: the myths, the pros, and the cons. I cannot definitively say which is better to use, but I can assist in dispelling rumors or misconceptions about either straight razor style, and perhaps help you choose your everyday cutter! 
Lets start by focusing on the aspects of the traditional straight-edge blade. When thinking about a classic barber shop, there are a few things that come to mind—Pinaud aftershave, twirling barber poles, a comfy chair with leather arm rests, good conversations, and straight razors. The traditional straight edge razor has been the barber’s best friend for generations, and only in recent history has the Shavette style razor become a major contender in the barbering scene. Unfortunately, with the introduction of disposable blades, the professional barbering community seems to have lost the “art” of straight-edge maintenance. This leads us to the first myth: the straight edge is too difficult to master. 
MD Dragon Shavette Style Barber Razor

   Although there is a learning curve associated with maintaining a traditional straight-razor, its certainly not difficult. Learning the proper way to hone and strop your razor takes time, but when you master the art, your material costs drop to $0, and who doesn't want to see their shop running at minimal cost? Of course, there is a catch. You have to ensure that you are always maintaining your blade and that you are operating within your state’s disinfecting regulations. This is actually a great place to introduce the second myth: the straight edge offers an uncomfortable shaving experience. 

   I remember getting a straight razor shave a few years back, and it HURT! Feeling like the blade was ripping every one of my hairs out, I quickly assumed all straight razor experiences were this way. In this instance, the truth and the myth look a lot alike—it was a terrible shaving experience! However, thats because the blade that was used on me was not properly maintained! If you sharpen a straight-edge razor like you would a knife, then you have a knife, not a straight razor. Looking back on it, I did not receive a straight razor shave that day. I received an awful experience with a knife. On the other hand, the straight razor that I personally use everyday is my favorite part of my morning routine. Its extremely comfortable, and I actually cut my ridiculously square chin less than when I used store-bought cartridge razors! Thats because the blade that I use is being properly maintained! I plan on doing a video tutorial on straight-edge maintenance, so I’ll hold off on specifics until then, as well as following up with a Facebook Live video Q&A. 

Shave Ready Football Razor by MD BARBER
   With the myths out of the way, lets address some pros and cons of the traditional straight razor. The first thing that stands out to me with the traditional straight edge is durability and longevity. I recently honed a razor for a barber in Washington state which was dated from the 1880s! This barber is using a 130 year old razor, and it looks AWESOME! Of course, not all straight razors are created equal. I have had multiple “knives-in-disguise” sent to my door step where the steel was way too soft to hold or maintain an edge, however it looked cool. I call those “mantle razors.” They look great on the mantle, but thats where the should stay! MD Barber Supply is one of the few companies producing good quality new straight razors, but if you are on the hunt for an everyday cutter, beware the “knives-in-disguise”! 




   For those of you lucky enough to find a great quality vintage razor, you already know this next pro to be true: the straight edge is time tested and has traditionally been the weapon of choice for barbers around the world. There is something to be said about using a traditional tool to accomplish your art. Just as Michelangelo used the brush, so to do you use the razor on your canvas! Personally speaking, this is my favorite part about using a straight razor. Sure, I can use a cartridge razor to accomplish the same task, but there is something about using the historic tradesman’s tool which connects us with the barbers of yesterday. Don't act like Sweeny Todd didn't inspire you. 

   Alright, lets talk about cons, because there certainly are cons with a traditional straight razor! The first thing that comes to mind is the initial start up cost. If you want to do this right, its expensive. If you want to experiment and explore the world of traditional straight edge razors in the barber shop, I would expect you to budget around $200. You would typically need to get 2 or more razors so that you can use one while the other is disinfecting, as well as a leather strop, of which both can add up quickly. 

   If you decide that the traditional straight razor is for you and you want to commit your hands to the straight edge, then expect to spend upward of $500 (on the low end!) to acquire your tools. It is not uncommon to see high quality razors being sold for $400 a piece used. There are some companies out there that sell new razors for around $700. That being said, you personally need to weigh the costs and decide if that is right for you—keep in mind, effectively equipping your barber stand with a traditional straight edge can potentially extinguish your cost, so lets assume you spend $500 total to get 2 razors, a leather strop, and a few whet-stones for honing: you have now armed your arsenal for the rest of your career. $500 spent now means more money in your pocket over the course of your career as a barber! Imagine the money you would save over 20 years! 

   Lastly, the very thing that I find most romantic about the straight razor can also be the fatal flaw for you—maintenance. Now, I enjoy the maintenance behind the straight razor. I love being able to strop my blades before every shave and hone my razor every few months. But what if you see a few dozen heads a day? I’ve been to some shops where 2 barbers are expected to meet demands for an entire town! Lets paint the picture—its Friday afternoon, and you have an entire family who comes in wanting to get cleaned up for a wedding later that night. If you have to run your strop before every use, they aren't making it to the wedding on time! Of course, the case could be made for having a Shavette disposable blade razor on hand for backup in a situation like this, and I would highly suggest having a backup Shavette for any barber wanting to use a traditional straight edge. 
Before continuing on to the Shavette razor, lets recap the Traditional Straight-Edge razor-
Myths
    • Too difficult to sharpen
    • Uncomfortable shaving experience 
Pros
    • Durability & Longevity
    • Time tested and traditionally the weapon of choice
Cons
    • Initial start up cost (Strops, whet-stones)
    • Initial curve required and maintenance 

   The majority of the barbers that I visit weekly are using the “Shavette” style straight razor—it looks like a traditional straight razor, but it has a disposable blade! More than likely, if you are a barber here in the US, you have been using a Shavette style razor since the very first week of barbering school. I don't have to go into much more detail regarding its function since 99% of you probably already use it! But lets start by dispelling some myths associated with this wonderful tool. 
The first myth I hear all the time (usually from those who prefer traditional straight-edge razors), is that the Shavette razor style is “poor quality” and “cheap.” Just like anything in the world of consumerism, there certainly are cheap Shavettes, but as mentioned previously, there are also cheap traditional straight razors! The fact is, there are some great quality Shavette style razors out there! I happen to use an MD Barber Supply “Dragon” razor personally, and I am always impressed with how comfortable it is.   

Franklin Razor: Available as Straight Edge OR Shavette

   The second myth that I have come across from some barbers is that some of the disposable blades available for the Shavette handles are too sharp. Yes, I said “too sharp.” It seems as though you would want the sharpest tool in the shed to get the job done, so when I hear about a bade being too sharp, I immediately ask what angle they are holding the blade at. If you happen to be one of the barbers who cut someone’s face or neck all up and blamed the razor, I’m going to encourage you to adjust your angle and the amount of pressure you are applying! With a Shavette, you shouldn't have to apply any pressure—you should be able to pull the skin tight and smoothly drawn the blade in the cutting direction. 

   Moving on to the pros of the Shavette, even though I prefer the traditional straight razor over the Shavette style, I still hold a few of them in my arsenal. I find that the #1 benefit to having a Shavette on hand is “accessibility.” Being able to change blades in a moments notice between customers without having to soak your blade or strop the edge saves a TON of time (you barbers in big shops know exactly what I am talking about!). The case for the Shavette is strong: you get similar results as a traditional straight razor without all of the work in maintaining your edge. Another benefit is that Shavettes are generally cheaper than their traditional counter-parts, however it should be noted that this is in reference to the initial purchase cost. It might cost you $60 to get a great quality Shavette handle, but the running cost of blades can quickly get expensive since every customer will get a new disposable blade.  

   Lets address some cons of the Shavette. As mentioned above, the running cost puts a damper on the whole thing. At first, its not a big deal, but lets assume you are paying for blades over the course of your entire career. At a generous saving of $10 per box, you could run through $30 a month or more in blades. 

Royal Red Single Edge (Pre-Snapped) Barber Razor Blades
   Here at MD Barber Supply, we cut you barbers some slack when buying in bulk since we offer entire cases worth of blades at extremely good prices. However, that is still a cost that you don't necessarily have to eat with a traditional straight razor. This is of course dependent on your preference. I know some barbers who would gladly pay for blades since they cannot afford the time for traditional blade maintenance, yet on the other hand I know barbers who enjoy the maintenance aspect and enjoy using the traditional straight razor more than a Shavette. I suppose that within itself could be considered another con of the Shavette: you miss out on the culture and ritual of a traditional straight razor. 

Alright, lets recap some the Shavette:
Myths
    • Shavettes are poor quality
    • Shavette blades are too sharp (change your angle and pressure!)
Pros
    • Quick to change blades (time saver!)
    • Similar results as a traditional straight razor without all the work in maintenance
    • Initially cheaper prices
Cons
    • Running cost of blades
    • Misses out on the culture and ritual of a traditional straight razor. 


   As I said in the opening paragraph, I cannot definitively say which is better, the traditional straight edge or the Shavette style razor. Each have wonderful aspects, and a few cons. As a barber, it would be wise to address the environment of your shop. Can you afford to spend time maintaining a traditional blade? Can you afford to spend money on blades every week? Whichever you choose, MD Barber Supply has the right tool for you and your shop! Happy cutting! 

To check out our huge selection of shave ready straight razors and shavettes download our MD Barber Supply App or go to www.mdbarber.com!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Introducing MD Barber’s New Straight Razors

We’re excited to announce that our new line of shave-ready straight razors has launched on our website. These beautiful razors combine the old-school style of straight razors with the technology and quality you’ve come to expect from MD Barber. Let’s take a closer look at MD Barber straight razors and what makes them so special.

First off, a lot of care has gone into making these razors the best they can be. Each blade is hand-honed by a specialist with a 30,000-grit finish. That means they are shave-ready right out of the box and won’t need any sharpening before you can get started. We’ve leather-stropped them and gotten them into tip-top shape.

md barber straight razorSecond, we didn’t skimp on quality. Every blade features a Rockwell hardness rating of 62, which means they’re incredibly durable and strong enough to take repeated shaves before needing a second round of sharpening. We’ve offered all of the never-fade handles of our current swing-lock razors in this new straight-razor style, giving you plenty of options for customization. We also included our black- and gold-coated razors in this style as well. You’ve got nearly endless options to choose from!

Lastly, we’ve focused on value with this razor. Not only are you getting a great bang for your buck and spending far less than you would have to somewhere else, but we offer a free resharpening with every straight razor purchased!

Old-fashioned straight razors are a great way to add some nostalgia to your barbershop as well as give you the added weight and control you just can’t find with modern-style razors. We think we knocked it out of the park with these, and we know you’re going to love them, too. Which style do you plan to buy? Are there any additional styles you want us to add to the straight-razor collection? Let us know in the comments below!