Shaving towards profits

Cutly: Entrepreneurs’ approach to shaving and razors

Judith Lacy





It’s funny what you learn at the barber’s. Mohamed Eltayeb had returned to Palmerston North only a few days earlier from living in Melbourne when his barber, Blake Janes, told him about his idea for better shaving cream. Eltayeb was interested from several perspectives. He was frustrated with bumpy, itchy and red skin after shaving, plus his Australian plans had been cut short by Covid-19. That was February 2020. Janes was developing an allnatural product. Impressed with Janes’ samples, Eltayeb gave them to his friend Chris Teneza who was also impressed. They sought help from Napier chemical engineer Aden Fareh and kept formulating and testing the product — firstly in a garage, then a bedroom. The entrepreneurs started with an oil formulation, but moved to a cream base that can be used pre and post shave as well. Cutly’s shaving products for men and women were launched in November and are available from its website. The directors hope to get their products into a supermarket chain, but say they first need to build up brand awareness. The shaving cream is manufactured by Cutly in Palmy, while the metallic double-edged safety razors are custom made in China. The razor is reusable and the blades recyclable. Sustainability is important to the directors and the boxes and bottles, too, are recyclable. They were focusing on men until their female landlord asked for samples and said it was the best shaving cream she had used. Her daughters made the same comment. Eltayeb admits they were reluctant to target women at first because they thought it would be extra work. Pradeep Chhetri came on board in August. Friends with Janes, he’d been working as a floor manager at Harvey Norman. Chhetri was surprised to discover how frequently women shave. He has done a lot of research into the shaving market and says the grooming process hasn’t been made easier for two generations. Those who shave have been led to believe rashes are normal and instead of producing better blades, the industry started creating a cabinet full of products. Rashes are not rationale and shaving should not be complicated. The directors say their cream provides the most precise shave possible without hurting the skin. The lack of lathering up allows users to better see where they are shaving and their cream adds rather than takes away moisture from the skin. The razor is heavier than normal to help with a better glide. Chhetri works on sales and compliance. He’s from Bhutan and came to Palmerston North in 2014. Eltayeb does marketing and management and moved to Palmy from Abu Dhabi when he was 7. Teneza is responsible for finance and visual content, bringing a background in banking. He moved here from the Philippines when he was 12. Teneza says Palmy is a practical city; Eltayeb agrees, saying it is an easy city to live in compared with Auckland or Christchurch. Cutly has received support from Central Economic Development Agency and Callaghan Innovation.