What we did
- Product Design
- Manufacturing Liaison
- Mechanical Engineering
The pursuit to improve the female shaving experience is a new, albeit, extremely welcomed focus in the selfcare/beauty industry. Many women have accepted the multi-blade head norm not knowing there was actually a better way for them and the environment. Enter hanni -- a safety razor for women that not only provides a superior shave, but dare we say, a more pleasant one as well.
The Big Idea
We sat down to talk with hanni’s founder, Leslie Tessler, about life before, during development, and after the launch of hanni.
Leslie began by sharing how despite living in New York and working her dream job in the beauty industry, she found herself feeling burnt out, anxious, always with “mystery ailments”, and generally unhappy. In pursuit of a major refresh, she left her job and booked a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires, Argentina, intending to only stay 6 months. 1 marriage, 3 kids, and a brief stint of doubt about her decision later, it was clear something had gone very right in those first 6 months when Argentina became Leslie's home for 10 years.
When asked what sparked the initial idea for hanni, Leslie brought it back to a time she was trend mining in Japan and spotted a woman through a barbershop window getting a straight razor shave -- on her face. Being a veteran of the beauty industry and always up for trying any beauty products and regimes, she decided to grab a shave as well. Leslie was shocked by how smooth her skin felt after. She then discovered that this form of shaving provided a gentle exfoliation that left her face feeling refreshed and revived.
For Leslie, women’s razors are a great example of an undeveloped and copiously wasteful product. She then elaborated on how many men’s grooming products had been designed and improved for their specific needs whilst many women’s products were left in a “good enough” stage, which is where she saw a perfect opportunity for disruption.
How does hanni differ from the herd?
Let’s start with the actual shave of it all. Leslie explained that safety razors use a single blade, which enables the user to be more precise while also achieving a closer shave with less irritation. Next, it’s a safety razor designed for women. From the shape and weight of the handle to the way the blades are swapped out, the hanni razor was designed with each step of the female shaving experience in mind.
Not only is it a better shave, it’s also just simply better for the environment, which Leslie noted was a major priority when designing the hanni system. To accomplish this, we created a plastic free handle - made from 100% powder coated metal. Additionally, the recyclable Swedish Steel blades come in paperboard packaging with a handy blade bin for used blades. Once it’s full the entire blade bin just goes into the recycling stream.
Leslie also leveraged her beauty industry experience to develop the Shave Pillow - a moisturizing stick with a proprietary formulation that even allows you to shave without water for those quick touch-ups.
Lastly, Leslie wanted hanni to provide more support for its customers than existing women’s shaving brands. With instructional videos on how best to use the razor and their blog, The Fuzz, that covers a variety of topics from how to check-in with yourself to the history of hair removal – hanni’s aim as a brand is to grow into more categories, with razors, as Leslie put it, “only being step 1 of step 1”.
How we approached the design
Leslie came to Prime Studio with a clear goal in mind - to develop a non-intimidating safety razor that was specifically designed for the needs of women shavers. Women tend to shave a wider variety of body areas than (most) men - including face, underarms, legs, pubic area, etc. Speciality razors for these different regions do exist - but Leslie’s vision was for us to develop a universal design that would work equally well for whatever part of your body you were shaving.
Of course, we started like we often do by analyzing and testing current products to assess their strengths and weaknesses - and yes, our founder, Stuart did shave his leg in a meeting in our conference room to help demonstrate.
The singular main reason that safety razors can give a superior shave is that you are using a singular super-sharp blade which causes less skin irritation and bumps and reduces the risk of ingrown hairs. It’s pretty simple really - if you do two passes with a safety razor then your skin experiences only two blade exposures - with two passes using a five-blade cartridge razor then that same area of skin experiences ten blade exposures -hence less irritation with a safety razor.
With such a great shave come a couple obstacles though. There is a technique to shaving with a safety razor that needs to be learned and the fear factor of dealing with exposed blade edges when changing blades. That's where our expertise in the grooming space came into its own.
There is no such thing as "the perfect shave". You are always balancing closeness vs. comfort with different hair types having different needs. It comes down to many factors including blade to skin angle, blade protrusion, span angle for washthrough, etc. We’re not going to give up our recipe for the secret sauce, but suffice to say that during the development and testing of many prototypes we feel we hit a pretty great place on the hanni design.
Our handle design is elongated to give extra reach for shaving legs and ankle. Moreover, its perfectly weighted so that the weight of the handle helps guide the blade through the hairs without the user having to apply pressure which can lead to skin irritation. The head is rounded and curved so there are no sharp points to cause discomfort when shaving sensitive areas like armpits. We explored many different blade replacement methods and in the end opted for a modified butterfly opening as it was found to be the most intuitive during consumer testing.
Finally, we capped out the system with a choice of two razor holders - an adhesive in-shower version and the weighted hero holder. both of which draw from hanni's simple geometric design language.
As we often do with startups we also helped Leslie throughout the commercialization process including recommending vendors, liaising with them over manufacturing and assembly methods, checking samples and pre-production parts etc.. The work is not complete when the design is handed over - being on hand for that last 10 yards can make all the difference between a good product and a GREAT one.
When asked where “No Pressure” manifesto stemmed from, Leslie touched on her experience hearing the same expectations for women over and over: get married, raise a family, be a girlboss while also keeping up with your appearance, but also get 8-10 hours of sleep. Leslie thought who are these women who do all this -- do they even exist? Am I the only one spreading myself too thin and falling short?
Thus the No Pressure campaign was born.
Not only echoing how to use the hanni razor, the No Pressure philosophy (and the truly great razor) is one of the many great points of difference that sets them apart from startups and established brands trying to “disrupt” the beauty market. Visit their blog The Fuzz to read about “shaving, skincare, and so much more”!
A beauty industry darling
Since its launch in early 2021, the hanni razor has proven to be just what the doctor ordered. Our design has received numerous awards and appeared on editors’ picklists by highly regarded titans in the beauty industry such as Allure, Elle, and Vogue to name a few.
“This razor from Hanni is equal parts chic and efficient, thanks to its pink (or burgundy) hue, its twist-to-open top, and its weighted component, meaning users won’t have to press too hard onto the skin to get a close shave. It works to remove not only hair but also dead skin cells so that your post-shave products can seep into the skin for optimal hydration...”Akili and Kiana Murden, Vogue hanni