How Karen Young Invented the Single-Blade Razor That Keeps Selling Out

Second Life Karen Young Interview

Photo:

Courtesy of OUI the People 

Welcome to Second Life, a podcast spotlighting successful women who've made major career changes—and fearlessly mastered the pivot. Hosted by Hillary Kerr, co-founder and chief content officer at Who What Wear, each episode will give you a direct line to women who are game changers in their fields. Subscribe to Second Life on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you listen to stay tuned.

Have you ever had a case of razor burn so bad it was debilitating? I feel you. And more importantly, so does Karen Young, the founder and CEO behind the game-changing shave and personal-care brand Oui the People. Young started her company back in 2015 after searching high and low for a better alternative to the pink-washed, multi-blade, plastic razors that dominated the shaving market for women and left her with less-than-desirable results (read: ingrown hairs, and irritated skin). "I thought that there was an opportunity to align shaving and skincare, and that's when I started playing around with the idea," she tells Hillary Kerr in the latest episode of Second Life.

Photo:

Courtesy of OUI the People

It all started out of Young’s Brooklyn apartment with just $1500 in capital to get her idea off the ground. She knew how frustrating razor burn and ingrown hairs were, yes, but the more she explored the market, the more she realized something else equally as troubling: Disposable razors—which make up the overwhelming majority of the category—were a huge plastic suck. For reference, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that America produced two billion disposable razors and blades—and that was back in the early ’90s. There had to be a better option for both women and the planet at large.

Photo:

Courtesy of OUI the People

After three years of R&D, Young created the world’s first safety razor designed specifically for sensitive skin: a stainless-steel, single-blade razor with a weighted handle and non-aggressive blade angle for a close yet irritation-free shave. Handcrafted in Germany and in chic colorways like matte gold, rose gold, and limited-edition matte black, it’s no surprise the razor has already sold out six times on the brand’s site. And Young didn't stop there. Just this year, she ventured into personal care with products like the Deep V Bikini Mask, Sugarcoat Shave Gel-to-Milk, and Featherweight Body Gloss, which are finding cult status just as fast.

Photo:

Courtesy of OUI the People

Still unsure about the Oui the People phenomenon? Take one look at the brand’s website. Between over 400 five-star reviews and relatable, refreshingly cool branding with taglines like F#ckFlawless, things will click (if somehow they haven’t already). "It's time for us to have a deeper and better conversation, and I think it's time for someone to approach women from a more thoughtful perspective," she says of the spot-on brand voice and approach to marketing. 

Photo:

Courtesy of OUI the People

Young has nailed every part of the storytelling experience—something she attributes to her days working in fashion for designers like Dolce & Gabbana and Japanese denim brand Evisu. Young also isn’t a first-time entrepreneur. She learned the hard way how difficult building a brand is back in 2012 with her own home interiors line. After a successful four-year run, she didn’t have enough access to capital to keep up with the growing demand for inventory, and she made the difficult decision to walk away from the brand—with some invaluable business knowledge. "Being an entrepreneur is like getting an MBA 10 times over," says Young. Next, she spent five years in packaging operations at Estée Lauder, where she found out just how many silent intricacies go into creating the boxes, seals, and bottles of our favorite beauty products. Eventually, in 2014, she was bitten by the startup bug once again, and we’re oh so happy she was.

Photo:

Courtesy of OUI the People

Tune in to this week’s episode of Second Life to hear the ins and outs of how Young turned the shaving industry on its head, and be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts so you don't miss an episode. And to preorder your new favorite shaving tools, keep scrolling.

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