The Sample Conundrum

Posted by Will Carius on

Why it took us so long to bring them back, and how we're going to handle them going forward.

Samples are a bit of a storied thing for us. We offered them in the early days of operation, but they quickly grew to become so labor-intensive and time-consuming that we ended up handing it off to Maggard Razors, who was better able to produce them at scale. To put it into perspective, it used to take us an entire day just to process 20 sample orders! Scalability seemed completely beyond us.

So we took some years off from the process and let Maggard handle it for awhile. But I kept wracking my brain, trying to figure out how to produce samples in such a way that it doesn’t take hours to pack just a few orders and that offers our customers a nice healthy sample from which they can get a feel for the fragrance of the soap before and during the shave, and, for the new people, how our shaving soaps perform. Conventional wisdom would have samples like that come in round pucks to better fit within a jar or a bowl. But then it hit me: the soap is soft. It can be molded into any container you wish. We can make rectangular samples in the same way that we make bath soaps; all the user has to do is smush it into whatever container they wish.

A small pile of wrapped samples of Barrister and Mann Leviathan shaving soap.

Thus, that’s how we’re going to do this. Each sample weighs at least an ounce (some weigh a little more; they’re currently being hand-cut, so there’s some variance) and will come wrapped in the same paper that we use to wrap our hand & body soaps. To use one, all you have to do is unwrap the paper, remove the sample, and put it into whatever container you prefer, be it a bowl, a jar, a scuttle, or whatever. Try to preserve as much of the surface area as you can because surface area allows for better lathering. That’s it. Presto. You’ve used a Barrister and Mann sample.

The samples are extremely portable, so they’re also perfect for travel. I often hear from folks that they’re worried that the TSA will seize a jar of their favorite soap and throw it out. With a 1 oz sample, all you have to do is toss it in your bag or dopp kit; it doesn’t violate any TSA restriction that I’m aware of, and an ounce of soap is enough to get you through quite a long trip before you need to re-up. And hey, if you’re going on an extended vacation or business trip, pack two. They’ll fit almost anywhere.

All samples will retail for $5.99 and, if these are all that you order, we’ll ship them in a padded envelope to cut down on the shipping as much as possible. We'll only be offering them on a limited basis for now while we get up to full production speed (doing this for every fragrance is going to take awhile), but, eventually, we plan to offer samples of every shaving soap that we make. Additionally, while we’re not ready just yet to start supplying them to our retailers, that is the long-term plan, and we hope to be able to offer samples to any of our retailers who want them, including our international retailers like Top of the Chain and Slickboys UK. Maggard Razors and any of our other retailers who wish to prepare their own samples will absolutely be allowed to do so.

This is still a pilot program, just in its infancy, but we’re absolutely delighted to be able to offer samples once again. It’s been far too long, and it’s honestly kind of silly that it took me this long to figure it out. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned to see what other super cool developments we have in store!

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