Ahhh…that spring air is rolling through and bringing with it earthy scents of mulch, new life, flowering trees, and an invitation to spend more time outside. It’s no wonder April is Earth Month and sustainability is top of mind. We imagine everyone is welcoming that spring invitation with open arms, ready to get out of our houses and into the great outdoors.
The studio wanted to honor Earth Month by bringing a guest to Beyond the Brand that held sustainability at the heart of their work and we couldn’t be more thrilled that Adam Simone, co-founder of Leaf Shave, answered the call. Come for his incredible story of creating (a literal) cutting-edge product, and stick around for a pun or two–you’ll be so glad you did.
My name is Adam, I’m one of the co-founders at Leaf Shave where our goal is to use innovative and unique designs to eliminate plastic from common personal care tools, like razors. I am a mechanical engineer by trade, with a background in medical technology development and commercialization. I like to make things, and tell stories.
My co-founder’s name is also Adam (I know…ha!) and we met more than a decade ago as early employees at a startup developing robotics for orthopedic surgery. “Other Adam” (as I like to call him) ran the engineering group at that company, while I ran the marketing group. We were friends for a few years before we started talking about starting something on our own.
One day, Other Adam came down to my desk after work hours and told me he had an idea for a new razor. Something that combined the good from old-school razors, with the good from modern razors. The result of this would be something that was easy to use, effective, and safe, used economically (read: very inexpensive!) blades, and was completely plastic-free.
I was immediately hooked. I never really liked shaving. I suffered from irritation, ingrown hairs, and just all-around unhappy skin when it came to shaving. I suppose I’m a very sensitive person and that extends to my poor skin.
We figured out how to create a razor that worked like a modern Gillette cartridge shaver but that used safe razor blades. From those efforts came our flagship product: The Leaf Razor, the world’s first multi-blade pivoting head safety razor.
We ran a Kickstarter campaign in 2016 to help fund the first production run, which was successfully backed by 1,400+ people who believed in our idea. It took us another year to figure out how to make them at scale. Then, we officially launched in March of 2018. So… we just turned 5 years old this past month!
We now employ 13 people and Adam and I are very proud of the business we’ve built, the innovative products we’ve launched, and the hundreds of thousands of shaving people that we’ve helped get a better shave, ditch plastic and save money.
First and foremost, when we make new products they must work. No one wants a “paper straw” situation where yeah… you’re eliminating plastic straws but the experience of paper straws sucks (pun).
So from a sustainability perspective, we want to make sure that our customers see the benefit of making the switch. Shaving with Leaf allows users to eliminate disposable plastic from their routines, plain and simple, and stick with it by being easier, safer, and faster to use than any alternative option.
Perhaps the most fun initiative we do is choose a non-profit partner each Earth Month to support with a financial donation. As a team, we look at areas we want to direct our impact, and then pair that with special products over the month of April to help fund our donation. For example, this year $3 from every Berryblue (limited edition) color of our products is going to be donated to Pacific Whale Foundation in support of their research and conservation efforts in protecting whales in our oceans. In 2022, we supported Pollinator Partnership’s efforts around bees and other pollinating creatures, and in 2021 we put our support behind the Coral Restoration Foundation. This is a wonderful activity because we can provide substantial financial support to these organizations, and our team gets to learn about a whole new area of environmental or ecological concern together.
Yes! I never considered myself particularly conscious of sustainability initiatives, the small steps individuals can make as well as the large hill to climb over global industrialization and geo-political barriers can all be a bit overwhelming.
But since starting Leaf, I’ve found ways to (imperfectly) walk the talk. I make small changes in my consumption habits, find ways to reuse and repurpose where I might previously have replaced.
One of the most interesting challenges was in building a team from scratch. I really enjoy my colleagues, and am thankful for the folks who decide to join us at the company. I feel a tremendous amount of pride in seeing the team grow, and watching the business grow and actually ‘work!’
Find a partner so that you can share the journey, because entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. You want someone you can celebrate the wins with, and commiserate over the losses. Neither Adam nor I could have done this alone. But we know we’re going far, together.
Without giving too much away… we have some very interesting things happening within Leaf Shave this year AND something very exciting happening outside the Leaf Shave umbrella. So definitely stay tuned.
One of the really interesting things Leaf has coming out this year is, at first glance, seemingly innocuous. One of the most requested accessories is a shower holder, something that can stick to a wall in a shower and can hold/hang a razor for our shower-shavers.
The actual shower-holding hook is the easy part. The ‘how to stick it to the wall’ is the interesting part. We decided to challenge ourselves and we asked… how could we stick this to a wall using zero plastic, and using zero petroleum-based adhesives. What would be the most eco-friendly way to reliably hold our premium razors?
It took two years, but we developed in-house a completely all-natural, plastic-free, petroleum-free, reusable adhesive. Our Leaf eco-adhesive is launching in limited quantities along with our shower holder launch later this year. We continue to learn about it, and how it performs, in wider and wider circles and are excited to welcome a few hundred Leaf Shave customers into the fold to use the product, experience the new adhesive and report back.
I personally LOVE involving our customers in product development and commercialization like this. We have a tight-knit community of supporters that always come to bat for us.
This will be exciting. As we continue to prove the viability of our new adhesive we will find ways to make it applicable to a wide array of use cases.
I exclusively listen to comedy podcasts to turn off my brain. The first podcast I ever got into remains my favorite still: How Did This Get Made follows ridiculous movies and lovingly roasts them.
9. Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell a little bit of my story. I really enjoy welcoming new folks into our leafy family and I hope that some of your readers find this interesting, and are willing to give something like this a try. We’re always here for our users! <3
You can find me on twitter at @admsimone if you want, though I don’t tweet much, I’m pretty busy running my business! But happy to connect there if anyone wants to reach out.
Thank you so much for *virtually* sitting down and sharing your story with us, Adam. And, please send our thanks to “Other Adam” as well, because we are so grateful for businesses like this in the world, and for all the people out there doing the hard work of bringing their amazing dreams into reality.
We hope everyone’s feeling inspired to take good care of the Earth, to create, to dream big, and have a good laugh along the way. We’ll see you next time, friends.
Know someone who would be a good fit for this series? Please email us at email@example.com.
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