An old Russian proverb claims that “It is easier to bear a child once a year than to shave every day.”
Men who are accustomed to shaving themselves quickly and easily with a wide array of efficient implements may be puzzled by the supposed Russian ineptitude. But consider the means of whisker removal employed in days of yore.
Prehistoric man used clam shells or well-honed animal teeth to achieve a whisker-less – and presumably skinless – chin. Ancient man was motivated not by masochistic tendencies as one might suspect, but by the wish to deprive an enemy of a handhold to grip while gouging at this victim.
Smooth-cheeked swains of the Middle Ages used crude straight razors; a feat involving considerable skills and dexterity, not to mention blood.
But it was not until 1895, while he was shaving, that King Camp Gillette hit upon the idea of a disposable safety razor. Convincing a number of wealthy Bostonians to back his American Safety Razor Company.
Gillette went into business, but his fortune didn’t come until World War One. The war offered him an opportunity to promote his “Service Set” shaving kits to departing doughboys.
The 3.5 million sets sold made the returning soldiers into confirmed Gillette clientele.
Today, Gillette is ranked #37 in brand value ($16.6 billion) by Forbes magazine, and their razors are used by 750 million men in more than 200 countries. And while King Camp Gillette may not have envisioned a company with annual sales north of $6 billion, we see his vision, ingenuity, and recognition that he needed to aggressively market as putting him a cut above the competition.