This week, we had a vendor/distributor get a little hostile with people from the Wet Shaving Community because he was expecting a lot more people to give to the cause he was putting together for a fellow wet shaver. When I read the post in the group, I immediately reacted to it, as this is something I strongly feel has been bubbling inside of me for quite a while.
I want to flash back when I first started getting interested in wet shaving. I had noticed there was such a thing called PIF (Pay It Forward) where wet shavers would help “newbies” out with equipment, soaps, whatever…so they could enjoy the hobby right away. I would call this “The Wet Shaving Welcoming Committee” who did this sort of thing, as not everyone was doing it. It was just to be friendly, make people feel better about their interest in the hobby, and create a sense of “we’re in this together you guys” and “we are the brotherhood.”
Then, there was this cool thing where we could enter into a special raffle and possibly win a prize! That was really great, because many Artisans donated to the raffle and we just put our name in, then Christopher Bailey (TSE) would pick names from a virtual hat, announce the winners and everyone had an opportunity for it. I personally won a nice shaving soap from a raffle and I was quite grateful to TSE for it. I also noticed there were other raffles where you could donate to a cause, then be eligible to win a Plisson brush (remember when there were only THOSE brushes from L’Occitane?)
I also saw a situation where someone bought a bunch of the Plisson brushes as they were extremely hard to find and he was looking to recoup what he spent on them. I think I contacted him for a friend of mine who was trying to locate one for her husband. We worked out the deal, and had been able to get the brush. That was fantastic, and I think it was well received by the husband.
The PIF rules then were discussed by wet shavers in the community. There were such questions raised as; If you get something PIF’d to you and you decided to sell it, that is considered “poor form,” so the only respected way by the community to rid of something you really don’t like is to then pass it on to someone else, preferably a newer wet shaver. The question of a receiver’s integrity was raised and a whole debate started, and still goes on to this day. The other side of the coin is that someone is given something by another wet shaver. Then, should the person who gave the fellow brother in Wet Shaving be tracking that item forever? I mean, really, where do you draw the line? The idea that we have to follow this “Wet Shaver’s PIF Code” is really absurd. I think it’s up to the discretion of the receiver. Now then, if someone is totally taking advantage, which there have been reports of, that’s a totally different reason to blackball them and encourage people not to give to them…. According to the community, that is.
Then, in came the donations to people who were going through difficulties or even couples who had babies. Maybe it was a tornado or a hurricane. Maybe someone had an accident or their house burned down. Maybe there was something that happened that most everyone empathized with and they wanted to reach down into their pockets to donate to whatever cause of the week was happening.
I don’t want to go into details here in this blog of a personal matter, but I will say that to expect donations from the Community as a whole is setting the bar pretty darn high. I was quite surprised to see that many did donate to these causes, time after time. It was great to see the “brotherhood” come together for the various causes, and I even contributed at least a couple of times, but there seemed to be more and more things that came up that we all needed to participate in. The more the merrier, etc.
When the expectations get set, and wow, they did, more resentment built up and soon enough, a shaming post came up within a group. It was so harsh. I really felt like I couldn’t really honor what was being said because it seemed like it was no longer about the cause, it was about the expectation of giving and what the backlash is for not giving to the causes. I immediately fired away some criticism and said that I was really disappointed this was coming from a vendor. Someone later pointed out that it wasn’t directed at many of us, it was directed towards peers of the vendor who weren’t donating.
Here’s another suggestion… Maybe there should be an Artisan Guild where the Artisans can pool their resources and regularly donate to a fund that would help people in need. I know some societies within the Church do this and it works out quite nicely.
As I think about the events of the week, I know nobody’s perfect. Hell, I have gotten stuff that I don’t want to do anything with like put it up for trade or auction because I fear someone’s gonna rip a new one on me because I didn’t follow the Wet Shaver’s Code of Freebies.
In conclusion, I just want to commend the people who give to others in the Community. It’s quite admirable that you do so. I will never forget when a guy by the name of Barry Baisden gave me a Birth Year (1969) Gillette. I was blown away and I hope to do some similar things for other people in the coming months. Once I get my life together and make enough money, I’d love to just surprise someone with a soap or brush. I’d love to just give without expecting anything in return. My take away from all of it, and this is a personal decision – I don’t want anyone to think that I am suggesting that everyone follow this train of thought… but I don’t ever want to track ANYTHING that I give away. When you give, it’s out of your hands and therefore, your expectation on what will happen to it has nothing to do with what will happen. People are going to do what they are going to do.
I suggest that the happiness is in the giving and if you put too much emphasis on the person’s actions after receiving, then man, you really might be missing the point of giving.
Thanks everyone – I hope the rest of your week goes well. Had a great shave today, I decided to do a video which I will post soon, where I continue to talk about “Wet Shaving Artisans Integrity” that seems to be so important in videos still and I discussed a little about my thoughts that I already discussed here at length.
I talked about Wet Shaving Products, which is one of those Artisans – Soap & Aftershave makers who really are great people. That’s not the only reason why I like the products, I just think it’s rare in this Community where someone really is understated, not making waves, not doing heavy promotion in the Facebook and Google Plus groups and is doing their part to make quality products and serve customers well.
May that be a lesson to the other Artisans. You don’t have to do the heavy marketing campaigns. You don’t have to post your newest product’s pictures in 20 different groups and banter back and forth on Twitter or Google Plus about the latest swag available.
Just make great products and the rest will take care of itself. Lee sure got it. His Barbershop scented soap just got featured in People Magazine and man, that’s great. The Artisans are getting noticed more and more by the publications.
Last year, many Artisans were featured in Forbes and this year an Artisan made it into People! What a great time to be a Wet Shaver. What a fantastic year this is shaping up to be.
Peace all! Happy Shaves to you!