Hello Ladies and Gentleman!
So, it’s been since April, 2017 and I’ve been putting a lot off when it comes to this website but the fond memories of writing in this blog regularly remain and while I can’t get into everything that I would need to say here to get clarity on why I took a break from it, I will say a lot has to do with my vision for myself and where I want to go with my life.
I started pursuing writing stories about Artisans and talked to three people who I really enjoyed the conversations with. I was to do a series of interviews with Artisans and then post the interviews on this page.
With that, something happened that usually does, my momentum slipped. I got caught up in some really hardcore weird drama with Wet Shaving. Just kidding, I just refocused my efforts in my main passion which is songwriting.
I started focusing every day on creating lyrics – something that I feel is a necessary thing for me to do because I find enjoyment in it as a creative force in the universe.
I learned the format of lyric writing through years of study, and the practice of writing regularly is something I don’t do half-assed. I wanted to totally focus on it and yes, I left Wet Shaving Times in the lurch.
I’ve pushed back working on any short stories right now because all my eggs are in that one basket of writing lyrics. What this has done for me is free me up to come up with several new ideas for songs and I like working on those and will continue to write those and really polish them up.
As I’ve shared in the past, if you’d like to see my work, please head on over to Grandma’s Mantel Music and check it out. It is not a hobby like Wet Shaving is or proved to be, it is my passion – as a way to creatively express myself and work on something I hope to be a lasting legacy to my family. Since I am a BMI Writer Member, I know that I am close to making my dream happen and I don’t want to mess this up.
I still currently wet shave, however I no longer feel like writing anything else regarding Wet Shaving and all that comes with it. I found myself to be arguing over trivial matters and while some find that fun, I don’t.
I got into the hobby of Wet Shaving to improve my shaves and did. I found some great friends in the community that I hope will remain my friends throughout the years. But I think what I should be doing is much more than this, quite frankly so I move forward to totally dedicate myself to my family and my work as a lyric writer.
If I start getting interested in the Artisans again and what they are up to, then I may bring back the constant writing and interviews but I think it’s best for both the community and myself to step away from this and honor the songwriter in me so I can see if success in songwriting in the next 5 years is in the cards.
My intentions in it are far beyond dreaming, I have already made great strides in both meeting people in the industry to my daily practice and routine.
All the best to you dear readers and enjoy everything Wet Shaving has to offer you! Check the links and be sure to visit the Artisans pages regularly to support their endeavors. They sure need all the support they can get.
With all the new Bloggers and the constant flow of product reviews I am sure everyone has all the info they need about what to look for and where to get the products. I highly recommend all of the bloggers I have listed.
Thanks to everyone for supporting me in this endeavor.
Matt of Wet Shaving Times
He’s dapper and different
He cares about his face
He calls his restroom his Shave Den
and it’s his favorite place
He uses a shiny double edge razor
He buys blades on the cheap
His shaving brush is made from badgers
Now those can get a little steep
But the Modern Wet Shaver doesn’t care
Somehow he’s always got money to burn
If he happens to buy something he doesn’t like
he just shrugs and says, “Live and Learn”
He joined Badger & Blade and Razor & Brush
to keep himself informed and in the know
about all the latest soaps, creams and aftershaves
to the Big Shave West in California, he wants to go
He found his special hobby
The one that’s unique and fun
And when his friends ask what he’s up to
He doesn’t say he’s chasing a hole in one
He doesn’t talk about his serve & backhand
He doesn’t mention all the money he’s made
Instead, he tells them to give up the canned goo
but his friends are tough to persuade
The Modern Wet Shaver, he’s a smart cookie
He’s saving money left & right with his shave
He’s found something he’ll always enjoy
He’ll be shaving this way until he’s in his grave
The Modern Wet Shaver may like other things
but he knows what makes him smile
It’s the time he took to groom himself
It’s the Wet Shaving Lifestyle
He’s made friends all over the world
by getting into something trivial to most men
He’s a Modern Wet Shaver
and he’ll never use those damn cartridge razors again.
2017, M.K. Gray
This week, I thought about the need for me to learn something new about the Current State of the Personal Care/Grooming Industry and go up to Chicago to revisit Q Brothers. This was an important step for me for a few reasons.
It has been a while since I’ve been to Q Brothers, and I thought that if I need understand & comprehend the Personal Care & Grooming Industry, going to a retail store I have been familiar with would be essential in that process. I will plan more visits to stores and various events in the coming months, so the more information I can gather about upcoming Artisans and Vendors, the better.
Last year, I didn’t get to go to the meetup and this year, I have been on the fence about it. When I went to the 2015 Windy City Meetup, I had met a lot of Wetshavers and Artisans and we all got along. We filled Q Brothers and some of us bought some stuff. We broke bread with one another at the restaurant a few doors down where we all had fun just enjoying each other’s company.
I headed into Lincoln Square where I slowly walked up to Q Brothers. This time, there wasn’t Arley Canterbury outside having a smoke and there wasn’t David Gonzalez inside to recognize me when I walked through those doors. There was Ramon Vela (Q Brothers Shaving & Grooming Specialist) who had been there the previous time I had gone in alone to discuss things about the upcoming meetup with Kurt (who has since moved on). He recognized me right away, as we are in similar groups and commented that he reads Wet Shaving Times. As I looked around Q Brothers, I felt the quiet, sacred feeling that sometimes I’ll get when I go into a chapel. It’s now streamlined with fewer products and wasn’t busy when I was in the store.
Ramon told me they are still busy on the weekends, and they get a lot of repeat business, but many times, it’s these first-time customers who come in and just got curious & interested in Wet Shaving that bring people through the gate. The store clerk then shows them the DE razors and the brushes and Ramon said that sales have gone up on the brushes lately.
I looked over at the shelves and saw some familiar brands and products in their Artisan section. Fine Accoutrements had practically a whole shelf. Catie’s Bubbles, Wet Shaving Products, Tabula Rasa are there, and many other recognizable brands are there as well. Some Artisan brands are in other places. There is a rack that is in the center of the store which carries Stirling products visible right from the checkout counter.
Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements weren’t up on the shelf and it did hit me a bit strange. I know they carried it and even at the 2015 Windy City Meetup, they had him there in the store, promoting his product. I already knew that RazoRock were not being carried, but PAA? That seemed very weird to me and I asked about it. Ramon was very helpful to me in understanding the situation and due to concerns about private decision making within the shop regarding product ordering, we discussed it without going into too much detail. In the end, it’s simple really.
The retail marketplace is all about supply and demand. The customers want what the customers want. As inventory managers & owners of the store, they have to decide what they think will sell and what they think they don’t. They have numbers they go through as well as their personal experience of what they see is selling in the store Also, a few Artisans stopped making and delivering the product, so they just never replaced the stock with new products.
On a personal note, I understand this because my parents owned Gray’s Hallmark for 15 years. In those early years of the store, we would go to Gift Shows with Mom and Dad where they would be exposed to many different products and decide to place orders based on what they saw and who they talked to. This decision process got refined over the years and I think they always didn’t have an easy time deciding what to carry. This discernment process is done carefully and sometimes on instinct. Companies certainly realize that business is business and every business has a right to make their own decisions but they also want to cater to their clientele. Some may get a little peeved that they can’t get their product in the store, but you must be on good terms with delivering the goods. From what I heard, they had this problem as well with some Artisans. What was also discussed was the bottom line in wholesale costs. Every store has their own policy on how much they are willing to pay for wholesale and some companies just don’t allow for wiggle room. If it doesn’t make sense to the store owner to carry the product based on markup and how much profit they will make on the product, they might not carry the product. That’s just common sense to the store owner.
The Windy City Meetup 2017 Dilemma
The Windy City Meetup is coming up in June, so the big question is that well, is Douglas from PAA coming or is he steering clear of it this year? The Big Shave West 3 is happening in April and that takes a lot of work, so I imagine he would be busy with other events as well. I also wondered if Q Brothers will be involved with this year’s meetup like in 2015? The answer is that Q Brothers likely will not take a role in this year’s Windy City Meetup. This poses the question…. What the hell is a Shave Meetup in Chicago without a Shave related activity at Q Brothers one of GQ’s top 100 places for Men’s Grooming Needs in the Country? Esquire has named them as being one of the top 25 stores.
This concerns me. Is the idea of the Wet Shaving Meetup dissolving or are they now just becoming casual get-togethers of online friends and fellow hobbyists?
Wet Shaving consumers have an interesting dilemma. They form personal relationships with Artisans by getting together with them and crossing that line of personal and business and then the Artisan is dropped from a store, there tends to be a sense of loyalty to where an event is held in relationship to who is coming to the Wet Shaving Meetup. This boils down to the boundaries of a consumer. If the consumer doesn’t care about this kind of thing, then it’s not a problem. What I have noticed within the Wet Shaving Community is that Wet Shavers are a very LOYAL bunch of consumers. They will stop at nothing to take a stand if they feel an Artisan is being slighted. This was true when RazoRock had a similar issue with Q Brothers before we had the 2015 Windy City Meetup.
If you remember or don’t remember correctly, a well-known YouTube blogger and influencer would not step foot in the store because of the issues that RazoRock had with getting their product on the shelves again. It was not the Blogger’s fault that he didn’t get the full story, it’s just that if he investigated it enough, there was more to it than just the Vendor’s point of view. I said at the time that as a consumer, I don’t know if I really want to get involved in an argument between a Vendor and a Retail Owner. However, as someone who is covering the Wet Shaving Community and Industry, I am curious about these issues because it is an important part of how we feel about shops and Artisans that we love so much.
If Douglas Smythe from PAA is indeed coming to the Windy City Meetup, then the problem that could happen is there could be an argument or an uncomfortable situation right before our eyes when it comes to the store owner and Douglas. It is kind of like when a friend has been 86’d from a bar and someone attempts to bring that friend in then finds out what could go wrong. We certainly would not want or encourage that kind of experience as consumers. We simply want to know that a fair shake is involved and perhaps a better understanding by all parties could take place.
I’d like to stop there and just get some feedback on the various things I’ve brought up in this article. If you would like to weigh in, please comment below because I would love to get your thoughts or concerns on the matter as either a Vendor, a Shop Owner or Consumer. I believe that dialogue is necessary for me to “get the facts straight,” but I also don’t want to be a burden to anyone involved as you all have work to do as well. If you care to, please comment and I’ll do a follow-up article.*
Have a great day and shave intelligently, my friends.
*Note: This article has been edited.
(Profile Pic which proudly displayed my Captain’s Badge #101)
I started thinking about one of the exclusive groups I was part of and I wanted to share a little bit about it because it seems like there are elements of this now in current groups such as Razor and Brush and many more.
Rather than tell about how it first began, I wanted to say a little bit about how it ended for me. It ended because I got tired of handling things for a particular Vendor and Artisan. I got tired of doing an Artisan’s dirty work. Now, this was before the current talk show format this same Artisan has created and actually, it’s a great way to get things out in the open, rather than behind the curtains and sending someone out into the spotlight to deal with the criticism that goes with it.
I remember eagerly going to bat for a YouTube Blogger. That actually is how it all began. Whenever someone was trolling him, I was quick to defend him particularly on Twitter, which got me to thinking, man, there should be a monitor group to defend people’s honor, integrity and more, you know? He definitely appreciated that and I do remember him publicly appreciating me in a post about it.
So I got the ball rolling and the original group was called “The Shaving Police.” It included many of the interesting characters of the Wet Shaving Community, a “secret group” who would then participate in behind the scenes shenanigans including talking up the Artisan’s products on Reddit. It was short-lived.
(Above – International Shaving Police Logo. Looks official don’t it?)
I remember it was pretty cool to have a “Shaving Police” badge, where it was designed as a way to acknowledge membership slyly. My nephew commented that it reminded him of the movie, “Let’s Be Cops.” The premise of the movie was that a guy had a fun idea of getting a car and making it look like he was a cop with his friend. He eventually “took it a little too far” and started wearing a uniform, which definitely took it over the top.
(Above – A version of the Shaving Police Banner by Arley Canterbury)
The thing about The Shaving Police is that it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. I loved it when the designer of the group logo and banner put the guys from Blue Bloods and Reno 911!. If we could have a sense of humor about what we were doing, then that was the fun of it all.
What turned into a harmless joke then turned pretty crazy.
Reddit seemed more fun when part of The Shaving Police. You could go in there with a sense of purpose and totally say what you wanted to say against all those Trollers, who really did some serious damage to the reputation of How to Grow a Moustache (which Douglas Smythe eventually changed the name to Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements).
After a few arguments within the group, it basically disbanded.
The problem of it was simply that it became a target. The very thing that we were looking to combat, we were becoming. That was a major argument within the group. We didn’t want to be Trolls ourselves, we wanted to combat the negative forces within such groups as Reddit which tends to have a specific agenda. What it is, well, they can define that. I certainly don’t want to assume anything about them, but there is a common theme within Reddit’s Wicked Edge. I don’t like it but what I can say is that it’s a free country. They certainly have the right to their opinions. You do, too.
One thing I question is having an administrator who is in charge of what is said within a group, particularly when it involves his blog. It’s a form of censorship of opinion. One thing I’ve decided to do because of this is not post links to these articles in the groups U do not monitor because of that particular issue. I figure if someone wants to find the article, they will on Twitter.
Will The Shaving Police (or the newer version: The Shave Police) ever come back? I am not sure it’s needed. It certainly never was needed in the first place. Everyone can defend themselves. We all have our own experiences and journeys, and I think what I learned from my experience in defending a particular Artisan is that he certainly has his own business and he can take care of it on his own. The Admins of the groups have their jobs and if they bias their members, that’s on them and what happens within the groups.
When I left The Shaving Police, I decided that if I was going to participate in the Wet Shaving Community, I would do it with a blog, where I controlled what I said and nobody else could censor or demand that I retract anything from it. That is when I decided to start “Wet Shaving Times.”
While writing this blog, I have been asked to remove portions of my blog or censor myself. This demand has not been considered as an option because, again, it’s my journey and my choice to write what I want to write in it. I don’t think I should be censoring what my opinion or position is. Neither should anyone else who does a blog or better yet, a video blog on YouTube. That’s why I encourage participants within the Wet Shaving Community to start your own Video Blog Channel or standard blog. Start expressing yourself in a more creative way than just posts within the Facebook Groups! That way, you have more control of your material. The danger of posting within the Facebook groups and even the old time groups like Badger and Blade is that they can deem what’s appropriate and what isn’t.
If you have a position or opinion about something that’s going on in the Wet Shaving Community and you care to share it, please do. Don’t keep it inside. If you are offended within a group, do not hesitate to approach the admins about it or better yet, go over their heads if you feel there is a bias towards that particular person or behavior. It is sometimes encouraged to just leave a group, but nobody should be intimidated into leaving a group because of a specific person within the group. This is actually unfair to the membership of the group itself.
The truth is, no person should be the sole decider on what’s appropriate, but as we’ve seen in the previous weeks within Razor and Brush, that certainly has happened. In the end, we are all responsible for our posts and perhaps that could be the most important thing to do is self-examine what we are posting about or why.
Why are you involved in Wet Shaving? What does it mean to you? Does it mean insulting others who got interested in this hobby? Is it for the sheer enjoyment of it or is it an ugly motivation?
What you put into this hobby isn’t necessarily what you put into it. I could put a hell of a lot of money into it and still come out of it with jack. What matters is how you treat people and what you bring to the table. I am suggesting that what you bring to the table just might change the Community itself for the better. Constructive criticism done in a classy way is always helpful to the Artisans. Pissy comments in a Facebook group is not.
I think what I ultimately learned through being a Shaving Police Captain is to ultimately be a leader and not follow the masses within the Community. I encourage people within the Community to bring something to the Community whether it’s a sense of Creativity (ie Creating Companies that sell Artisan Soaps/Aftershaves or other Products or Services) or Commentary (Blogs/Pics/Videos). It’s a whole lot more fun to do that then just sit in the back and heckle.
Thanks for reading, and shave intelligently my friends.
I’ve been behind the curtain a bit, watching a lot go down in the Wet Shaving Community. Quite a bit has happened, including controversies, issues, debates, attacks, etc.
When a fan of CDB called me a Wet Shaving Reject as he defended him from my suggestions, it hit me. Do I continue with this blog or not? Do I participate in the Wet Shaving Community or not? How much of this shit will I put up with when my intentions are good and honest? I knew this moment of truth was coming for me as I could feel it deep within my psyche. Do I continue supporting it all or do I walk away?
I really debated this over the last few days, and here is what it boils down to for me:
I am interested in doing more informative articles than rants, but it seems to be the rants are winning.
I don’t buy a lot of product now because I can’t afford it. Additionally, my favorite soaps in my rotation are Martin de Candre and the Trump soap that was given to me by Razor and Brush. I love the simplicity and the reliability of the MdC and the scent of the Trump soap.
I try not to get involved in the Wet Shaving Theatrical Debates because it’s pointless. My latest attempt to put in my two cents about an issue that Christopher Bailey of ilather.com participated only turned into an argument about how I was a reject of the community and I should just shut up.
It’s becoming evident to me that there are camps within the Community:
The Jokesters who make fun of each other and there is this forgiveness that takes place. The example of this was when Ray Pope was reported for a post within Razor and Brush and he was later brought back into the group. I totally agreed with that decision for sure.
There are also those who aren’t a part of that camp.
People like Sharpologist (also known as Mantic59) who just does his thing and does it well. He doesn’t give two craps about what people would say about him, he’s in it for the business of it. He doesn’t make videos about how he’s a victim of a naysayer or someone who doesn’t agree with him. He’s an example to us all and that was my end goal here with this blog.
I am much more interested in this mentality than other Influencers who get really involved in the Wet Shaving Political and Social Debates that seem to pop up consistently and without remorse. It’s become its own parody.
I don’t want to give a crap about what people say regarding me and my personal relations to the Wet Shaving Community. I don’t want to give a rat’s ass if I’m not consulted about my opinions on whether the latest PAA soap is the next great one or the differences (however minor) between a Club soap from a Standard classic like Catie’s Bubbles Le Piment de la Vie.
I started this blog because I really like the camaraderie of the Wet Shaving Community, the Artisans and the Influencers. And it is getting to the point where it just might turn into a group of jerks if it keeps going the way it’s going. I’m not saying it is now, but it sure has a long way to go regarding mutual respect of one another.
Douglas Smythe of PAA once told me that I was demonizing him and he would no longer be my friend because of it. So cool, ok, an Artisan got real with me when I was literally just separating myself from his need to control my reaction to someone else who he was on the outs with.
CDB once told me that there was no bad blood between us yet he defriended me on Facebook and is defended by total strangers for “doing the right thing,” when it probably isn’t his business in the first place. On the other hand, who am I to even try to suggest anything different to him?
Ray Pope talked about the Chicago Wet Shaver’s Meetup and how there’s a “secret meetup” that I won’t be invited to.
The more I think about this shit the more absurd it gets.
I’ll just stick to the basics for now. I’ve got a lot more going on than paying attention to a bunch of people who are standing for paying out the nose for products that literally are coming out every week.
It’s a “machine” that will continue on with or without my opinions or commentary. The best I can do is wish it well and in the meantime, I will continue to work on my Wet Shaving Based story called “Wet Shaving Times.”
Thanks all. I’ll pop in from time to time, but this truly is more than just a sabbatical. It’s a shift of priorities to other interests with exception to the Story, which will be second in priority to my lyric writing.
This is not goodbye, this is a “have fun” and “I’ll see you in the funny papers.”
Shave on, guys. Enjoy the drama. Meanwhile, I’ll just shave and remember why I got into this hobby in the first place: Better shaves.
See you at the Chicago Meetup. 🙂
I haven’t posted any SOTD pics because I have really enjoyed just shaving every day without taking pictures of what I’m using. That’s kind of slowing my day down.
I’ve also been preoccupied with my story “Wet Shaving Times,” and that’s been interesting work because I am having to learn the basics on how to write the story and plot everything out. I am really excited about the whole thing.
I had that documentary idea a while back – that would be a way to further the Wet Shaving Times brand. Christopher Guest would probably be fascinated with the concept of a parody about the Wet Shaving Community and call it Wet Shaving Times – and it would be, IMHO, a really fun picture to follow Mascots with on Netflix. Not sure what he’s got coming down the pike, but imagine, if you will, exposure about Wet Shaving and how passionate everyone is in a very humorous and kind of wink to the people excited about Wet Shaving. That said, what could be on the soundtrack?
I’ve been listening to a lot of songs as I shave. I’ll put on the Spotify account and start listening to some stuff. By the way, if you’re interested in my Spotify Playlists that I set up with the Wet Shaving Times brand, you can check the following playlists out here. Some of these songs on these playlists would be fun additions to the Soundtrack in addition to songs written specifically for it:
Other than that, I’ve just really enjoyed hanging out with you guys and enjoying the company on Facebook, mainly.
My Uber driving has been going well, and then there’s a scare about Uber being banned by people due to support they have given to the government as well as to their affected employees by the Immigration Ban.
I don’t want to turn this blog into a political statement, this was meant to be a fun blog about shaving and my ideas about the Wet Shaving Community, so I will just leave that one alone.
Enjoy your shaves, have fun, and shave intelligently my friends!
This week, I got the pleasure of opening up a box from The Shaving Shop/Peter Charkalis and in it was a soap I had ordered the previous week named Hookah Lounge. The story about the idea for this soap evidently is that Peter, while in Los Angeles on business, met with Mahsam Raza of DUA Fragrances at a Hookah place in Beverly Hills.
The scent profile of Hookah Lounge is Bergamot, Amber, Oud, Sandalwood, Rosewood, Cade wood & Tobacco. Peter’s description from the website is that Hookah Lounge is a “smokey, spicy, mysterious scent that is absolutely superb.” It was commissioned to Shannon Soaps a couple of months ago and Peter’s right, this scent is amazing.
A few months ago, I had mentioned to Douglas Smythe that I was looking for a New Age shop smelling soap, one that would basically give the aroma of walking into a place that sold crystals, incense, stuff like that. I think I had even asked about a Nag Champa scent – and I think Ginger’s Garden said they either had one or they could develop it.
Well, again, when I opened this well-packaged soap from The Shaving Shop, I suddenly found that scent right there in that jar. I had no idea the ingredients mentioned above would create this particular scent. It’s a very exotic, mesmerizing scent, and I am so glad I got it.
I first tried a Hookah pipe while dating my wife Melanie (she is of Lebanese descent) and it was kind of what we now joke as a small test by the male cousins of the family. When they asked me if I’d try it, I threw caution to the wind and said, “OK!” We went outside and I think the tobacco was more of a cherry or apple flavor, I can’t remember. But it was sure different. I actually have a Hookah pipe but rarely break it out. It’s not that I don’t like it, I just am not a smoker. It’s more of a party thing anyway in my book.
With winter approaching, I think warmer scented soaps, so this particular soap, I think is perfect for the season. I don’t have the aftershave, but I think it matches up perfectly with some aftershaves I already have – although I can’t wait to get the perfectly matched one. Examples of which aftershave to use with it would be say, the PAA Tamanu Noir II – which I commented that as a combo, it made me smell like an Opium Den from the 20’s as I imagine it would have smelled like… which then reminded me of a favorite movie of mine that starred Bill Murray called “The Razor’s Edge.” These scents that are coming out then are not only connecting with one imagined scent, they are compacted into scenes from movies. I love this about the soaps being thought up and created now… they are appealing to me for many different reasons, not just the maker, but as a form of nostalgia.
Do I recommend The Hookah Lounge soap? YES! I love this weird scent. Now, Melanie isn’t too fond of it – she would much rather have me wear The Shaving Shop’s Hedonisme every day of the week, but you know how we wet shavers are, we must have that variety!
Go order it today here!