July 06, 2018

Someone tests out a new version of the Gillette razor. (AP Photo/Aynsley Floyd) 

Note: This piece was originally published on January 19th, 2018

If you're the type of person who shaves, you've probably used a disposable razor at least once. But where did this seemingly ubiquitous part of American life come from? It all goes back to the late 19th century, and a man with the absolutely incredible name of King Camp Gillette.

Three Takeaways 

  • The disposable razor wasn't the first big idea that King Camp Gillette had. He originally wanted to set up a socialist utopia near Niagara Falls. In this proposed community, money would be eliminated, labor would be divided, and the genders would be equal. 
  • One of the reasons that Gillette cornered so much of the razor market was that their shaving kit was given to American servicemen during World War I. After the war, many of those young men continued using Gillette razors. 
  • Although his idea was incredibly successful and he earned a fortune, King Camp Gillette died nearly penniless during The Great Depression (he lost almost everything in the stock market crash of 1929). However, his company continued to thrive, and today, sells nearly 7 billion dollars of merchandise a year. 

More reading 

Gillette, Business, socialism, shaving, razors

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