Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

How We Built it: Paul Thompson, Founder of Wilde & Harte

Give us the elevator pitch. Tell us about your brand

Wilde & Harte design and manufacture quintessential shaving accessories, inspired by the grandeur and splendour of iconic houses and palaces in London. Each razor and shaving brush collection is made from stainless steel, polished by hand to an impeccable mirror finish and purchased in a choice of traditional Art Deco designs, or contemporary, modern styles. Wilde & Harte also offer plastic-free and vegan-friendly shaving solutions. These beautifully crafted products make perfect gifts for oneself, or as presents for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas and Father’s Day. Proudly made in Great Britain.

What inspired you to set up your company 

Back in 2011, we identified a lack of aesthetically pleasing, high-quality razors in the shaving accessory market, so decided to design a collection of British made razors to make wet shaving an exciting self-indulgent treat, as it was in the days before disposable multi-blade razors.

 What was your biggest challenge in year one

Finding a manufacturer who would share our vision using innovative engineering techniques to help us develop and refine razor handle designs before an initial order was placed. Many manufacturers simply want to receive a CAD drawing and rattle off hundreds (if not thousands) of units from day one. We needed a manufacturer to buy into our idea. Thankfully, during a visit to Sheffield (the ’Steel’ city), we found a very forward-thinking family-run engineering business that understood our brief. This same engineering business still manufactures all of our stainless steel components.

 What would you say has been your biggest marketing success

Over the course of a two week period late in 2017, we received dozens of orders for one particular razor design from customers in North America. After initially scratching our heads – as we were yet to launch the Christmas marketing campaign for that year – we asked customers where they learned about this Wilde & Harte razor? Replies pointed to a feature in a current print edition of Bloomberg Businessweek, having published a full page photo and write up of the razor. An email also arrived from a customer asking if we had noticed an increase in sales recently. It also revealed this customer was so impressed with her own razor purchase that she left if for her colleague at Bloomberg to admire and he (equally as impressed) arranged for the feature to be published in time for Christmas. Luxury British gifts and a complimentary razor were sent over the pond in thanks of this very generous piece of ‘free’ publicity. 

 What has been the biggest mistake you made

Wilde & Harte has been very lucky indeed in this respect. As the business was run as a hobby for the first couple of years alongside full-time careers, we could not afford time or money to take many risks. We set realistic goals and achieved them. But, we did make mistakes, plenty of small mistakes, luckily none of which compromised the health of the business. However, knowing what I know now, one piece of advice I wished I’d given myself at the start is not to underestimate the importance and costs of overseas shipping. Create an account with a leading courier and charge 100% of the shipping cost to the customer. Let the customer know the charge upfront, don’t try and disguise it. It took us a couple of years and a few lost parcels to finally make the decision and create an account with DHL. We should have done this at the very beginning.

Tell us about your plans for the future

Right from the start, Wilde & Harte has championed a more environmentally friendly way of life. For example, our 100% stainless steel safety razors are guaranteed for a lifetime, so you can genuinely shave plastic free for the rest of your life. We also understand that not everyone wants to use a safety razor, there is a level of skill involved which takes time to learn, so we can’t ignore the ease and convenience of cartridge razors. However, we have just invested in a range of blade sharpening strops. This extends the life of razor blades in plastic cartridges up to five times longer than without sharpening. This enables the shaving population to vastly further reduce the amount of plastic used in shaving. We plan to offer one of these strops free with all Wilde & Harte Mach3 and Fusion (cartridge) razor purchases in 2022.

Our plan for the future is to become known as the leading British brand offering the most environmentally friendly way to shave as possible. We believe we are making excellent progress!

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