An idea that started out as a bike part, a successful Kickstarter campaign, a little inspiration from a fighter jet and a move to Columbus all played a role in establishing razor company Blackland.
“We’ve made an incredibly high-end, precisely-machined razor that will literally outlast its owner,” says Founder Shane Swartzlander.
The initial release, the Blackbird, takes a design cue from Lockheed’s SR-71 Blackbird fighter jet. Swartzlander wanted to take the iconic craftsmanship of the plane and apply it to something as innocuous as a razor. Machined in Illinois and finished in Cleveland, the results are a stainless steel affair available in the classic stainless look or sleek black oxide.
“We made it so you can tailor the razor to your own liking,” Swartzlander says, citing the Blackbird’s two handle lengths.
A 70 mm handle suits smaller hands and makes for a good travel companion, while the 101 mm handle leans to the more traditional, offering greater balance.
While the razor has gained customers worldwide since its recent release, the whole thing really happened by accident.
A cycling and triathlon enthusiast, a few years ago Swartzlander had an idea for a bike part. But, he couldn’t draw, didn’t know CAD, “It’s frustrating to have an idea in your head and not be able to get it into the world,” he says.
Swartzlander decided to do something about it, and started teaching himself CAD programming. That was also around the time his wife gifted him a safety razor. While he enjoyed it, he wasn’t necessarily into it. Something clicked though.
He thought, “It would be really great CAD practice to make a razor.”
He 3D printed the razor CAD design and a few tweaks and shaves later, the bike part was out of the picture. When he finally started to share the idea with others, “People loved it,” Swartzlander says.
It all came at a time when the old-fashioned romanticism of shaving with a safety razor was coming back in style. Swartzlander calls the process and simplicity of a guy taking a little time to pamper themselves in such a way akin to the French press of coffee. It’s also a more affordable option than the use and toss of cartridge razors. The Blackbird only needs a blade replacement.
“That’s a big allure to a lot of people,” Swartzlander says.
He found the project allured to many people when he took the Blackbird to Kickstarter. While Swartzlander had been in Indiana for the development of the razor, his wife’s job brought them to Columbus just in time for the campaign in August of 2015. The $23,596 pledged to a $15,000 goal brought the razor to life.
Swartzlander says he’s been floored by the response, and the people that have been loyal followers throughout the process. With online sales through the company’s website, the Blackbird has flown to about 15 countries and in about a month span has nearly been cleared out of its initial run of razors.
Another batch of razors is in the works, as well as some complementary products. In addition to the cherry wood razor/brush stand already available, “We’re also working on printing a matching brush,” Swartzlander says. “We expect that to happen this year, too.”
While he works to maintain quality and build inventory, Swartzlander also expects to expand Blackland’s line with some different razors.
For more information, visit blacklandrazors.com.