After making the decision to leave The Shave Nook last summer, The Varlet needs to fill the resulting void and establish a new communication line with its patrons. Since this venture is still very much in its infancy, engagement with potential customers needs to be at the forefront.
It's clear to me that The Varlet's brand needs to be solidified much further and its road map to goals set forth needs additional surveying to plot the best course forward. I have considered the current trends of the industry with regards to expectations in terms of construction but ultimately have decided that there is a large enough constituency out there that is still longing for a product like The Varlet.
Having my own platform allows me to expound upon The Varlet's product without limitations. I can also communicate more efficiently and with much more clarity should I encounter any setbacks in the coming future. I can post as often as I like, and not worry whether the nature of my posts either contributes or drags down a forum's energy or engagement. While I appreciate the immensely warm welcome TSN gave me I found it taxing to continually post about the setbacks I was encountering throughout late 2016 to early 2017. I thought it was best to part ways with the forum and align my focus on streamlining production issues, as I felt I wasn't contributing anything positive at the time.
The path forward includes an updated website which informs with a solid foundation what The Varlet is about, relying on the Twitter account to post news updates more consistently, a more engaging Instagram account to maintain excitement and grow a bigger following for the brand through amazing photos, and this blog, which I am going to think of as a blank canvas where I can post any and all ideas that come to mind. The website has already had a nice update so be sure to check out the additional sections.
The Orion Reserve List has been fulfilled.
Any further Orions manufactured will be sold on a general sale basis. Beehives, Megas, and the updated Ranger will still be sold through the reserve list for the time being.
Return of the Ranger™
The updated Ranger is a brush I'm extremely proud of and a precursor of the next step in The Varlet's philosophy as a brush-making manufactury.
This new Ranger has an extremely dense knot but a relatively high loft. As I introduce new models to The Varlet's range this knot spec will definitely have an influence on how I design their corresponding knots in the future. This is one of the best knots I've made so far, and only possible by making knots in-house.
So far I have only been able to make 3 of these Rangers because I went through so many versions upon the development of this brush. I appreciate everyone's patience. Once my hair supplies are restocked, I will make more Rangers.
The Ranger had to be updated as the original was great, but it wasn't enough of a brush to fit into The Varlet's line-up. I think this new iteration embraces what the original was, but brings a more eventful experience for those who've come to regard The Varlet as a premium product. I had originally envisioned the Ranger as the entry-level brush, but it was apparent very soon that was misguided.
The Varlet's knot warranty and handle warranty will be reduced to 3 years from date of purchase as of the posting of this blog post. Brushes purchased prior to 03/09/2018 will retain the warranty outlined in the insert included with the brush. While my quality control and corresponding customer feedback remains unchanged (i.e. just about perfect) it was misguided to offer warranties that lasted longer than the company has been in business. For full warranty information customers should refer to the warranty insert included with the brush.
I really must address the lack of communication and online presence over the last few months. Despite how it may appear, I am fully aware of some of my unorthodox decisions leaving folks perplexed.
Not one to make excuses, I'm truly apologetic to patrons who have endorsed The Varlet and its story thus far. This is really the only way I could have done it based on my values, my philosophy, and my nature as a craftsman. Also, I've tried to make the best decisions for The Varlet and it's forthcoming projects with long-term viability in mind. That means establishing a foundation for the brand and a reputation which isn't based on novelty but on a concept that seems to endure in many industries, namely quality and originality. That means if I can't ensure both, the products won't ship. I go back to the drawing board and figure out another way to do it.
After these first two years, my understanding of this craft is coming to a point where the learning curve is starting to level off. It was only a matter of time. Brush-making is fairly straightforward, and I think I have tended to "over-engineer" my offerings. Nevertheless, attention to detail is something that's a part of who I am and naturally it will reflect in my work.
Despite my missteps I have to look at things with some perspective. Being the first in any endeavor is difficult. The one who blazes the trail is the one with the most cuts and scrapes because the brush has to be cleared. (No pun intended)
The Varlet's approach to each component of the shaving brush, the knot and the handle, was unique.
Firstly, there are no knot-makers in the U.S. to learn this craft from. To learn how to make a knot from scratch and have it compete with those made by manufacturers with decades of experience is something I'm proud of.
Second, rather than use readily available resin blanks for handles I decided it was best to try to adopt an unorthodox material, Alumilite, and face the challenges of learning how to cast it, turn it, and polish it, because I believed in the advantages of said material. With everything considered it's apparent that the effort and investment made in Alumilite early on is the most sound decision I've made.
Trends come and go, but the names that endure are those that build a legacy by carving their own path. As a mea culpa, my shortfall this past year has been an unclear roadmap and the resulting lack of communication on the web at large. No one is interested in reading about The Varlet's production bottlenecks, though I've been glad to inform those who have inquired via email.
Nevertheless, the Orion list has been fulfilled, which is a small but welcome victory, and the brand has been developing a more grassroots following through direct messages with patrons. A little over 2 years in and it would be extremely foolish to say The Varlet hasn't panned out. Maybe the limited production has muted the brands exposure, and it's partly due to my taking of large risks. Going all in in terms of quality and originality was the toughest path to take early on, because when you commit to delivering an exceptional product you have to abide by that promise. That decision, however, is starting to pay dividends.
Whereas I've typically been blindly optimistic in what The Varlet could do, in contrast right now I feel comfortable in a very grounded way with regards to the craft, the reputation of the brand, and the many things to come in the near future.