The Menswear Style Podcast

Paul Thompson, Founder of Wilde & Harte

January 25, 2021 Menswear Style Episode 110
The Menswear Style Podcast
Paul Thompson, Founder of Wilde & Harte
Chapters
The Menswear Style Podcast
Paul Thompson, Founder of Wilde & Harte
Jan 25, 2021 Episode 110
Menswear Style

Over dinner at The Wolseley, in London's Piccadilly, two friends — a product designer and a men's shaving accessory purchaser — discuss the uninspired task of regular wet shaving and identify a lack of genuine quality razors and shaving brushes to make shaving once again, the exciting self-indulgent ritual it should be. The days of lathering up a badger hair shaving brush with a delicate, scented shaving cream, loading a double edge blade into a 3-piece safety razor and applauding hand-crafted shaving implements seem all but forgotten in the efficient-driven age of electric shavers and disposable multi-blade razors. There and then, a brand name was conceived. Derived from two favoured drinking establishments in London's bustling West End — The Oscar Wilde bar at the Café Royal, Mayfair and The White Harte in Drury Lane. Wilde & Harte draw on an extensive knowledge of British men’s style and of the timeless quality which identifies a unique luxury British brand. Their inspiration is derived from contemporary and classic design, coupled with a passion for creating exquisite men's grooming products of the highest quality. Each wet shaving razor and shaving brush is manufactured from stainless steel and hand finished at the home of the British steel industry in Sheffield before being despatched to their London HQ for distribution. 

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Paul Thompson, Founder of Wilde & Harte about his background in web design and the story of how his shaving brand was launched. The idea was to create uniquely designed stainless steel razors that were more modern and contemporary compared to the plastic offering commonplace on the supermarket shelves.  Our host Peter Brooker and Paul also talk about the meaning behind product names, why he champions British manufacturing, the difference between badger hair and synthetic shaving brushes, and turning a hobby into career.

Whilst we have your attention, be sure to sign up to our daily MenswearStyle newsletter here. We promise to only send you the good stuff.

Show Notes Transcript

Over dinner at The Wolseley, in London's Piccadilly, two friends — a product designer and a men's shaving accessory purchaser — discuss the uninspired task of regular wet shaving and identify a lack of genuine quality razors and shaving brushes to make shaving once again, the exciting self-indulgent ritual it should be. The days of lathering up a badger hair shaving brush with a delicate, scented shaving cream, loading a double edge blade into a 3-piece safety razor and applauding hand-crafted shaving implements seem all but forgotten in the efficient-driven age of electric shavers and disposable multi-blade razors. There and then, a brand name was conceived. Derived from two favoured drinking establishments in London's bustling West End — The Oscar Wilde bar at the Café Royal, Mayfair and The White Harte in Drury Lane. Wilde & Harte draw on an extensive knowledge of British men’s style and of the timeless quality which identifies a unique luxury British brand. Their inspiration is derived from contemporary and classic design, coupled with a passion for creating exquisite men's grooming products of the highest quality. Each wet shaving razor and shaving brush is manufactured from stainless steel and hand finished at the home of the British steel industry in Sheffield before being despatched to their London HQ for distribution. 

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Paul Thompson, Founder of Wilde & Harte about his background in web design and the story of how his shaving brand was launched. The idea was to create uniquely designed stainless steel razors that were more modern and contemporary compared to the plastic offering commonplace on the supermarket shelves.  Our host Peter Brooker and Paul also talk about the meaning behind product names, why he champions British manufacturing, the difference between badger hair and synthetic shaving brushes, and turning a hobby into career.

Whilst we have your attention, be sure to sign up to our daily MenswearStyle newsletter here. We promise to only send you the good stuff.

Unknown:

Hello, and welcome to another episode of The menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete broca. On this episode, I'm going to talk to Paul Thompson founder and MD of wild and heart who offer the highest quality men's grooming gifts and accessories and I'm going to pull a short clip from the website which you can find By the way, at wild and heart with an e.co.uk. Each Wet Shaving razor and shaving brush is manufactured from stainless steel and hand finished at the home of the British steel industry in Sheffield before being dispatched to their London HQ for distribution wilden Hart limited are members of the made in Britain campaign. This is an initiative which is endorsed by the British government supported by British manufacturers and recognised by consumers both at home and abroad. The wilden heart brand features free exclusively designed shaving accessory collections, each influenced by the architecture and the splendour of iconic London houses and palaces. And so here is Paul Thompson to tell the story of wild and heart. Yeah, my name is Paul Thompson, I'm the director and have been since the creation back in 2014. Before while not work to the web designer, and when my Jobs was designing an e commerce website for one of the grooming shops in St. James's, which is how I got into this, this business. So So yeah, it started from there. Really? Right. Okay. And so what was the inspiration for going out and launching this on your own? Well, previous started starting in the business, myself and one of the contacts I miss from the e commerce website, just about a lack of high end British made shape accessories. So we started to create some razor samples, referring to designs. And then yeah, and then think about some have been some products in market. You say you launched in 2014? Is that right? Yeah, yes, when they formed the company. But before that, I spent a couple of years working as a hobby really getting some some razor collections ready to go and talk a little bit please about the design process for these razors? Like how long does it take to actually kind of bring something from concept to market something like this? Okay, it's takes it takes a bit of time. I mean, that's one of the main reasons we got involved with this is to create some some, some stainless steel razors, as opposed to the plastic solutions, which most companies sell. So it takes it takes a bit of time for the CAD drawings to get signed off, and some samples come out. And then we do the testing, and then the manufacturer batch and get them published. So it probably takes it'll take up to a couple of months really to to bring a new product to market. Right. And the designs itself. I mean, people can check these out on the website, wild and heart dot code at UK. The designs themselves have this kind of like octagonal stainless steel, but with like almost a circular beading. Yeah, yes, yes, we want it for two or three very different designs. And I'm quite, I'm quite it's Art Deco architecture. And so the octagonal design was his boat was based on based on the Art Deco influence, and then something more modern, and more contemporary. So that's the heater coke design. And yeah, then we got third design, which is something quite minimal and quite sophisticated. So yeah, we do offer quite a nice range of creative firm sort of razor handles and shaving brush handles. Yes. I'll get on to the the shaving handles in a sec. I was just gonna ask you about the names of the razors of the range. So we have the Aspley, the outcome and the osterley. fans got that right. So why did you choose these names for the races? Well, well, the main elements of all artists everything is as much as possible made in Britain. So keeping with the British theme, they raise their collections inspired by the grandeur and opulence of iconic houses and palaces in London without an elven palace, being one of the former residents so we're very young Henry the Eighth and then actually hice Wellington as a reference there, and of course, as you just mentioned, Austin Austin he has a famous apartment. Yeah, and if anyone wants to know which Batman it's Batman, The Dark Knight Rises. The one wave is the last one isn't it in the trilogy of the Netherlands? I'm not too familiar with there though. The the the Batman films I'm Yeah, yes. James Bond Well, you've come to the right place. Big bond fans over here as well, you might have been tempted to call it Blenheim Palace maybe is the next one on the on the list. Price to auctions near the arrests we face up in Derbyshire. And Chatsworth is not too far away. So there are no there's there's plenty of inspiration around around UK some some lovely sort of palaces and houses. Yeah, yeah. So the range, the range is kind of expanding in the future. So So yeah, yeah. I love that. I love that time. So how hard is it Paul to have this kind of product engineered and manufactured in the UK? Was there ever an option to have it made elsewhere? maybe slightly cheaper, or slightly differently? I was determined to have these, these designs manufactured here in Great Britain. And luckily, being based in Derbyshire on the doorstep of Sheffield, I've ventured up into the what was the old industrial sort of quarter and started asking around and got some contacts for manufacturers locally. And, yeah, a couple of companies were very keen on the idea of helping one in particular, and this company have developed something develop all the all the products, and it's not particularly cheap. But we have a lot more control over anything, which is done locally to us. And we've got more control of the stock as well and not relying on on lighting driving from abroad and perhaps not giving us problems down the line. You know, it's it took took took a bit it took a bit of doing but I was I was confidence that we find the right to the right people. And we did and getting something like this off the ground a lot. I've seen a lot of brands start up through crowdfunding and Kickstarter, and you know, raise capital that way, did you ever have to go down that avenue to get to get it off and running? No, I've, I've always worked as well as the first few years I was I was working as a web designer. And so I did this on the side. So I saved a bit of money. And photography on Monday I did my father a few years back. And he said right now How much do you need, and I started talking to got some help from from my parents and a couple of friends have offered as well. So yeah, I've been lucky to have the support of those close to me. So the moments I've managed to keep everything nicely, we're moving on to some of the brushes now. So you have both the Badger brush hairs and the synthetic hair brushes. That's great for people that don't know too much. And I'm going to put myself in that bracket. Tell me a little bit about the benefits of having badger hair white badger hair is so important for white shade. Well, there's there's the main differences is the boathouse, very water absorbance. And, and synthetic fibres aren't quite as much, but it's getting very close now. And it's the the, there's a lot more awareness of synthetic fibres, environmental sort of place. And so when I started to sell more synthetic fibres than we are about your hair, but the main difference is it's just waiting, when you lather up, you can get more creamy, dense density to your shaving cream with big hair. And not far behind now is synthetic or synthetic fibres. And it's Yeah, it's pretty close from baseline. I heard before the advance of like fibres and technology and stuff like that we'd use badger hair because they are the strongest but longest pointing hair. Actually, yes, yes. Yes. And they do take they do stay very straight. Yeah. Yeah, so not totally sure what back in the day how many animals a tried and tested horse hair and hair by the budget budget budget ended up being the one preferred by the other English gentleman in the 1800s so what shape is the company in Now Paul, it's been running for six years. What is the landscape like now for wildland fire and what have you got in the pipeline for the future? But it's been it's been pretty buoyant. What started off as a as a hobby that made a little bit of pocket money is now developed into into into into a business which which no pays pays a wage and and it's, it's Yes, it is really it's going quite well. It's all about education trying to get people to perhaps use more sustainable ways of methods of shaving like with our safety razors, which which we focus heavily on and that's pretty much where they're actually gonna be going in the in the years ahead as we develop sort of stainless all stainless steel solid stainless steel safety razors and and progress from from there so to get people away from perhaps cartridge raises, I think to use causes raises their convenience, but for people who really want proper shave, you know, it's good. The roots of good traditional safety razor made in England stainless steel and good sir badger brush or synthetic shaving brush. It's it's Yeah, I swear, you want people to go? You have some razors on your site that are compatible with standard cartridge razors. So yes, we do. We do. As much as we would like everybody to be shaving with safety razors. There are there are some people just aren't comfortable with safety razors. Some people just don't particularly like shaving but they like to shave with something that looks and feels good. So there will always be a market for for cottage razors. Yeah. So confi carries and Cornerstone seem to be solicits subscription services using cartridge razors. And there's no, there's nothing wrong with that there's there's plenty of room for, you know, for for safety razors in the markets. And, of course, the traditional model more usual, faster categorises that Paul was going to ask you about entering the digital world. I mean, you say you're a web designer by trade, or that something that you brought a skill that you brought into the game for wild and hot? How best can you leverage say social media to drive traffic to a website in your experience? It's It's vital. When I first started out as as a graphic designer back in the sort of very early 1990s. We were waiting, we've all heard about this thing called the internet and what it was capable capable of. I've been lucky enough to be involved in designing websites since the mid 1990s. And seeing the explosion social media is just drip driven traffic to websites before you still have to advertise in print to get people to go to your websites or your handouts or business cards to answer to anybody that would care to listen to you. But now it's Yeah, it's the way you'd Connect is brilliant. And for every e commerce website, it is absolutely vital. And driving. And so more business customers and just getting a message out for new products and services. You got seats. Yeah, yeah. You find what you find one platform works best over any of them. I mean, I know you're you're on Instagram and again, people can check out wildheart on Instagram and Facebook is the one that you prefer enjoy. Instagram actually seem to have a lot better results with Instagram. I don't quite know why. And it's it's it's but I thought that perhaps Instagram would be bringing to a younger market that might not be too too in touch with the with the shaving with high end shaving but no. Wrong started to Kate's thoughts, put some photos up. And yeah, lots of comments and lots of fun. It does drive traffic and sales. And Facebook tend to use a bit less light but Instagram certainly is is the is the preferred social media platform. Okay, interesting. And you build the website yourself? Yes, yes, sir. Yeah, yeah. That's tough to say yeah, yeah. Sorry. websites and maintain it. And yeah, yeah, it's I think it's looking still looking quite strong image strong, which helps. I always like a website where the images are really strong. If someone's got their own product, and they've they're coming to market with a brand. How best could they get an ecommerce site off the ground? is there is there something that you use a particular platform or tool? Well, I think anybody who's in the industry would have heard of platforms like Shopify and Wix. So there's plenty of these template driven e commerce websites. So so it's very easy to to create an e commerce website. The difficulty is, is getting warm, which is really well designed and then driving traffic to it. And is that where people give you a call so there'll be dming you now for a website. I still I still do occasionally indulge in. Miss get involved in, in website design. So when friends or family comes with a project I'll occasionally I get back into it again. But it's so much easier now. Even The last four or five years I've tried, I've noticed it's very slick. And the payments side of it as well as now is very, very easy for you intimated very secure. So, yeah, ecommerce really has, especially over the last 12 months, lots more people are selling online. And I think ibeacons websites as well, especially the last six months. And is there one that you've been using for your site is still keeping with trying to get everything as British as possible? There is a company called called shop wide based in the Midlands, and I use that template driven website platform and two other ecommerce websites that I have a hand in also use and on same platform. Good guys shop. Nice to keep everything British and under one roof. Absolutely. Yes. And put on the website, it says at Walden heart a part of the made in Britain initiative scheme set up by the government. Can you talk a bit about that, please? What is the made in Britain initiative? Yeah, yes. Yes. It's It's It's It's Yes, the made in Britain campaign. And it's so good politicians and business people got together to to drive this initiative. And well, and how I got involved with that probably four or five years ago when it was still fairly fairly young. And fact, I was lucky enough that they asked me to to write an article for their website back in October, November about the impact of of COVID. Early and, and so yeah, so I'm super honoured to be asked to to do that. Right. Yeah. So there's a couple of initiatives which which the government's are involved with, in trying to promote British manufacturing? And then do they fund it? Do they invest in it the government and know that no, they they they don't this is where it's it's it's a bit it's a bit tricky to me that they the government say yes, they they heavily invest in British manufacturing, they may probably do in touch with certain individuals and businesses. But it doesn't seem to be any any sort of major collective. So it's, it's it's something which could be improved, but government needs to do more, essentially. And, and websites like made in Britain, sort of just knock on the door saying, Oh, come on. We're here. So we need some more useable help. All right. Interesting. Well, certainly worth checking out and along with all the other great products, Paul, it's been a fascinating chat. Thanks for walking me through the brand. Again, the website wild and heart. How many times did I say Wild at Heart I think only said it once. Just said Where did the name come from? Well, it's, it's, it's derived with I was with a friend of mine. We were we start in a couple of couple of pubs in, in London, the White House and then there's the the Oscar Wilde bar and in Piccadilly, so it's derived from from those two drinking establishments. Nice. Do you miss London at all? I do. I do. I live there. Most most of my 20s but being a middle and I've always wanted to come back to the shires. But I do. I do miss it. I do travel back a lot specially on business. As a couple of shops that stock stock raises Dr. Harris, and teleco Bond Street, they stock our products. And yeah, I do I try to get down as often as I can. Yes. Is the aim to get more of wild and heart into barbers and groomers in London? Is that an area that you're looking to pursue? Or is it more kind of gifting and retail and that end of the spectrum, but it's definitely more more gifting. Because of the demands of craftsmanship, which goes into the products, it's not a particularly high volume business, we two it's a relatively low ish volume, but very high quality. But we do we do sell everything that we manufacture and things are things are building up. So I think we this year, this year in 2021 will need to probably double up on our on our manufacturing commitments. So it's, it's definitely it's definitely taking off face to difficult keeping tabs, control of the manufacturing and the polishing and the packaging and making sure that when orders come in that they are all satisfied in the office ready to be picked and packed. Did you design the packaging as well? Yes, yes. Yes, I'm a control freak. Yes, I've done this. Anybody else knew anything crazy. How are you going to delegate when this becomes multibillion pound keep control. Right? Don't worry, I'll figure out how to clone myself by that now, just a couple of versions of me handling every other facet of the business. Well, best of luck with it. I think you've got a great product and brand on your hands. And I hope to see more of it in the shops and on the shelves in the future. Peter, thank you. It's been a pleasure talking to you. Great YouTube. Take care. Have a good night. See me. Thank you, Paul. And thank you for tuning in to this episode of The menswear style podcast. If you like what you hear, why not leave a review it does help our egos. Don't forget to check out the show notes for this episode and all content pertaining to fashion, watches, travel, lifestyle grooming, especially over at WWW dot menswear. style.co.uk and we're on the social at men's wear style of course. And if you want to be a guest on the show, maybe come on tell us about your brand your journey you can email us here at info at menswear style.co Uk until next time,