07-06-2012, 02:11 AM
  • Dave
  • Moderator Emeritus
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This is the third interview in a series with the artists,craftsmen, and vendors who make wet shaving great. Todays interview is with Joe Abbatangelo from Italian Barber and RazoRock

[Image: razorock-logosmall.jpg] [Image: IB.gif]

When you think of quality shave products that are well made and easy to use, one of the first to come to mind is the RazoRock family (or should I say La Famiglia di RazoRock) of products. When it comes to male grooming, from the shower (Bath Soaps) to the sink (shaving soaps, creams, and aftershaves) and out the door (EDT’s colognes, etc), Joe pretty much has you covered.  Always an innovator, Joe is constantly looking and striving to bring new products to the wet shaving community.  Joe just launched yet another product line including Baby Blue Aftershave, a Lime Pre Shave Soap, several new artisan soaps, and Joe has more new products coming soon.  In addition to supplying the RazoRock line to wetshavers, Joe also runs ItalianBarber.com as well. I'd like to thank Joe for taking some time away from stuffing orders for another successful launch week to answer some questions for Nook readers.

First of all, what is the status of RazoRock XXX?  Many wet shavers (myself included) are hopeful of any news (good or bad) on that front.

We are down to about 180 units (from about 5000).  As far as we've been told, we won't be able to get anymore.  It will pain me to see XXX go, but we knew it was sort of a one-shot deal.  We are constantly badgering our source for more, but my hopes aren't very high.  XXX was basically an experiment in human psychology; we wanted to determine how much of a factor 'brand' and 'packaging' played in people's perception.

How long have you been wet shaving and what is your ideal shaving setup?

I've been wet shaving since early 2009 and my ideal setup has evolved several dozen time; mainly because I feel the need to test every shaving product under the sun!  Currently, my favorite setup is a Merkur 37C with a Feather blade, the brush seems to always change but I'm partial to two-band badgers, my favorite soap is the RazoRock King Louis and 888 but I have about 5-6 dozen cream/soaps and new formulas that I'm always testing.  As for aftershaves, I love the Floids and I love the RazoRock A/S lotions; but I'm always rotating and trying new stuff; I use the RR aftershave wax a lot in the winter months, as well as the La Famiglia balms and various other balms.  I'm also a head-shaver; on my head I mainly use the Gillette Guard razor and the soon-to-be released RazoRock Professional Shave Lube.  I always finish up a head-shave with one of the RazoRock La Famiglia aftershave balms because I love the way they absorb and the non-shiny finish they leave.

Where did the name Italian Barber as well as RazoRock come from?

My journey into traditional wet-shaving started with my father in-law asking me to pick up a few alum blocks for him in Italy; he is a retired Italian Barber.  Originally, we were just going to sell traditional Italian Barbershop products so we thought the name was catchy and descriptive of the business; we actually could not believe the domain name was available.  RazoRock was simple, our first product was the RazoRock Alum stick, basically, we wanted to describe the product; it is a potassium alum "rock" that is used after you shave with a "razor", hence Razo...Rock!

Speaking of names, where in the world do you come up with the names for your soaps? (Mudder Focker, XXX, etc). I love the new names for the new line

That is a tough question to answer.  To be honest, my brain is wired a little bit different than most and I don't think I ever grew up.  Having Fun and being a little silly is very important to me.  I'm lucky to have a partner (and a friend) that understands my personality and doesn't try to change me.  My guess is... the names are only going to get more crazy and silly as new products are launched in the future.  My attitude is... if you aren't having a lot of fun and laughing everyday, then what is the whole point of this journey?

What made you decide to go into the shaving goods business?

Both myself and my partner have other businesses, but one day while sitting by the pool (eating pecorino and drinking Chianti) at a castle in Tuscany, we talked about importing Alum blocks from Italy; a few months later we were actually importing and selling them.  This led to numerous requests for other Italian products from customers (because Giovanni Abrati from Barbieria Italiana had recently closed his shop), so eventually we started importing more and more products from Italy.  We are lucky because we know a lot of people in Italy and these people help us out a ton!  Italy is a tough market to navigate because it's very relationship based.  We really had no idea there were so many traditional wet shavers in North America but we soon realized ItalianBarber.com and RazoRock were becoming "real" businesses.  We simply wanted to bring the great products of Italy to the North American market, so they could be enjoyed on this side on the pond as well.

You’ve become known for tracking down hard to find discontinued items (P-160, Floid Blue, etc).   Is the secret a few Soap Detectives, a CSI Italy Team?  

We have a lot of friends in Italy that help us out; we can not take all the credit.  "Who you know" is very important in Italy and we are very blessed.  My partner and I are also extremely stubborn... when we want something, we don't stop until we get it!

Joe, you are constantly launching new product lines (La Famiglia, Artisan Series, RazoRock Classic series, etc).  Can you run us through what goes into launching a new line from start to finish?

There are a lot of elements that go into creating and launching a new product.  Obviously, first comes the idea for the product.  Different things can inspire an idea, sometimes it's the discontinuation of an existing (favorite) product, sometimes it's a perceived void in the market, sometimes it's just something I want for myself.  The hardest part of the process comes next; finding the right person/company to make the product.  We prefer to work with small artisan shops that are filled with passion.  If you find the right person, the creation stage works a lot easier.  Then you have to find and source the right packaging; this isn't so easy; design and order labels.  The commitment comes with the volume.  You can't simply run a hundred units of a product; usually, you have to commit to thousands of units and this is where the risk comes into play.  Cash has to be paid up-front and you hope you got everything right and people embrace the product.

At RazoRock, our goal is to sell high quality products at value price-points, so anybody and everybody can afford a great shave.  It's really easy to make a great $30 shaving soap, it's a lot harder to make a great $7 soap.  In Italy, it doesn't take a fortune to buy some nice wet-shaving products, it should be (and will be) the same in North America.

What’s next for the RazoRock Line as well as Italian Barber?

We launched a bunch of new products Tuesday, including a Limited Edition soap (with Thermal Mud), the S.Maria shaving cream, a bunch of new Artisan shaving soaps, RazoRock Baby Blue Aftershave, our professional shaving lube and a lime pre-shave soap (bar).  After that we are going to probably rest and take a vacation; I think we need to re-charge a little.  In the second half of 2012, we'd like to add some non-shaving products to the mix, a daily face wash, an exfoliating face wash, a shampoo.  We are also thinking up a razor project.  I'm a huge fan of the slant/torsion razors; I think the market needs another one.

Joe, thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for Nook Readers. Enjoy your vacation and thanks for giving the Wet Shaving community so many quality products.
Joe can be found at either http://www.italianbarber.com or http://www.razorock.com and you can purchase his products from many of our fine vendors.

116 3,804
 07-06-2012, 03:34 AM
  • Howler
  • A calamophile and vintage razor lover
  • Fort Smith AR
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Great interview, great article. Thanks for the write-up

1 3,507
 07-06-2012, 03:52 AM
  • ben74
  • Administrator
  • Perth, Australia
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I really enjoyed this interview, many thanks Joe and Dave!

91 17,620
 07-06-2012, 04:05 AM
  • daccpa
  • Weber fanboy
  • Middle Tennessee
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(07-06-2012, 02:11 AM)Dave Wrote:  We are also thinking up a razor project.  I'm a huge fan of the slant/torsion razors; I think the market needs another one.

OMG ! No vacation for you Joe, quick, somebody tie that man in a room till he gets this project done.

18 281
 07-06-2012, 04:06 AM
  • Dave
  • Moderator Emeritus
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I'm sad about XXX honestly. I was so hopeful that it could be saved and continued. XXX is the first real cream I tried upon wetshaving and I still love it. It's the only cream that I have more than one stockpiled (I have 4). The same way Johnny stockpiles Floid Blue, I stockpile RazoRock XXX.

116 3,804
 07-06-2012, 04:37 AM
  • jfmii
  • Active Member
  • Pittsburgh PA
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Great article Dave! I too miss XXX one of my favorites!

19 414
 07-06-2012, 04:40 AM
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I love how Joe answers questions about XXX. Hopefully now people will start realizing what it is, especially after seeing how the La Famiglia soaps came to existence.

Great interview Dave! Thanks or taking the time for it & for sharing your passion with us Joe. We are certainly fortunate to benefit from your mission. Now, Carry On! Winky

31 7,892
 07-06-2012, 05:28 AM
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Great Interview. The Italian Barber provides a diverse line of products with great service.

I tried the RazoRock bar soap recently and was very pleased. The bar soap is back in stock and I have an order including the Baby Blue AS on the way. Sad news about RazoRock XXX.

29 1,731
 07-06-2012, 06:06 AM
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Brilliant interview. Nice read Smile

7 1,176
 07-06-2012, 06:21 AM
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thanks for the interview and write-up, gents!

40 5,830
 07-06-2012, 06:28 AM
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I'm liking these interviews. Nice work guys. I just discovered how great RR soaps and ASB's are not long ago.

37 403
 07-06-2012, 06:39 AM
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Nice interview. I'm waiting to hear feedback on the RR Baby blue AS. Would like a comparison to FLoid

9 333
 07-06-2012, 06:42 AM
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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Great interview Guys! I have enjoyed working with Joe over the past couple of years and he is one of the good guys. Thumbup

45 15,966
 07-06-2012, 06:52 AM
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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(07-06-2012, 02:11 AM)Dave Wrote: We are also thinking up a razor project.  I'm a huge fan of the slant/torsion razors; I think the market needs another one.

Thank you gents for a very good and enlightening interview Thumbsup

For me the above quote was the real icing and the cherry that perfectly topped off an enjoyable read Clap

23 1,872
 07-06-2012, 06:59 AM
  • Johnny
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Dave, another excellent interview and I cannot wait to read more. Joseph, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and give us a small look in to how you got started and of possible things to come.

Job well done by both of you.

173 23,296
 07-06-2012, 07:22 AM
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Excellent interview, gentlemen.

74 20,808
 07-06-2012, 08:16 AM
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very cool. and yes, the market does need another one.

0 140
 07-06-2012, 08:48 AM
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Thank you Dave for doing this interview. It was very informative.

98 12,365
 07-06-2012, 08:53 AM
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A fine interview, thanks, guys. It's good to have "characters" among the shaving vendors.

178 11,976
 07-06-2012, 09:07 AM
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Well done Dave- excellent interview and a big thank you to Joe for doing this as well.

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