The Holy Black

Meet Stefan and Matt, the two brothers behind the Holy Black.
We come from a long line of people in the barber industry. Our grandfather was a barber; his brother was a barber. Our mother was a hairdresser. My father also always made a big ritual out of shaving. He taught us how to shave when we were like 5 years old. I have a lot of pictures of me and my brother and my sister shaving with my dad with our fake razors in the bathroom.
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When my grandfather passed away, I inherited all his straight razors and tools and that's what really got me into the whole hobby and hooked on this idea of the 'old school barber.' So I started sharpening straight razors for myself and then I started collecting them and then I started sharpening them for other people... there's a large old school shaving community out there and I got really involved in that in the late 90s. It was always a hobby of mine and then when it came time to start a business - something I was interested in - it just seemed to make sense.
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Before 'The Holy Black' I (Stefan) was working for Cablevision. I was a computer tech and I hated it. But coming from a computer background, an e-commerce business just made sense to me. And my brother, Matt, is pretty much a serial entrepreneur. He's owned companies; he's owned music studios. He's kind of the sales force and I handle all the technical and creative type stuff. So we started up in 2014. I actually started it as a hobby selling aftershaves on Etsy, and then we learned how to make soap. And that was like the thing that nobody was really doing yet. Nobody at the time was really making small batch soap. And so once we started doing that we got so busy we had to create our own website and we've been cooking ever since.
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The name "Holy Black" came from something called "Cowboy Action Shooting." These guys dress up like cowboys and go out and shoot blackpowder shotguns and pistols. Back in the day everyone shot black powder - but it's very caustic, it's dirty, it makes your guns rust, its hard to work with AND it explodes really easily from static electricity. So there are two classes of people - those who use the new chemically stable powder and those guys who when you ask them, adamantly reply "No, I only shoot the Holy Black." And the first time I ever heard someone say that to me I thought "that's the coolest thing I've ever heard." So it kind of just stuck with me and when I was coming up for ideas for the name I literally woke up in the middle of the night and screamed out "The HOLY BLACK!!" and I wrote it down and I went back to sleep and the next day we started the company. That's the story.
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Our whole thing is heirloom quality traditional products, because that old traditional barber really appeals to us. All the designs on our products are inspired by the late 1890's to 1930's - that whole ephemera. That type of style and design when everything was hand drawn. And we want the product inside the bottle to reflect that as well. Simple, traditional, easy to use - no special technology. Everything doesn't have to have the word "tech" in it. Our razors carry one blade, and when you're done with it you pass it down to your kid. Like when you're done with the soap you use the tin to keep screws in it (haha). When we do those limited edition bottles, they're all glass and ceramic to mimic the way they made stuff in the late 1800's, so you can reuse it and put it on the shelf when it's empty. The razors we sell are made of real bone and stainless steel; they are going to last forever. When you do things in a paper container or a plastic bottle they get thrown in the garbage. I hate the idea of our stuff getting thrown in the garbage. I want these things to get passed down to the next generation so that some kid somewhere when his grandfather passes away and he gets all his stuff, he gets his old Holy Black straight razor and his old brush... it's really important to us.
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I want to be able to support my family and my brother's family and bring the brand to a level that has national recognition. But I don't want to get so big that I have to compromise on our values or our ingredients. There are a lot of things we won't compromise on and we've had a lot of people that want to invest in the company or make changes to the company or tell us what we should be doing to make better margins or more money. We never want to choose money over our values as a brand. 
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