Oprah is always encouraging women to live their best lives. Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin is on a mission, he says, “to help men look and feel good so they can be their best selves.”
It may seem strange to compare the most influential woman in the world to the guy who launched a business empire with a funny 2012 YouTube video declaring “Our razors are f-ing great,” but men are from Mars and Dollar Shave Club isn’t a mail-order razor company — it’s a life-style brand driven by digital technology.
Dubin co-founded Dollar Shave Club eight years ago after moving to Venice. He sold the company to Unilever for a reported $1 billion in 2016, and now it employs 300 people at a fashionable creative office space in Marina del Rey. DSC, as he calls it, has likewise expanded its offerings to include Boogie’s hair products, Wanderer shampoos and body washes, Superba toothpaste, Blueprint colognes, Dr. Carver’s shave creams, Big Cloud hand cream and, earlier this month, Groundskeeper antiperspirant and deodorant. It even launched an independent content vertical, Mel Magazine, to fill a void among lifestyle publications aimed at men.
“I love building things. I love bringing things to life. That could be a product, a commercial or [expanding business into] a new country. I love the process of saying we’re going to go out and do something, then going out and doing it,” says Dubin, a Philly native with a degree in history and a background in advertising. He’s also a prolific reader, and took up sailing after being dazzled by all the big, beautiful boats docked in Marina del Rey Harbor.
Dollar Shave Club was one of the first miracles of the Westside tech sector (before anyone started calling it Silicon Beach), but like all good business ideas it started by addressing a problem — that shopping for razors kept under lock and key in big-box stores is a hassle, and overhyped “shaving technology” makes them pretty expensive.
Asked whether he’s a prolem-solver or market disruptor, Dubin answers “I’ll leave that to you.” But he does share advice for budding entrepreneurs: “You have to find a way to stay motivated by curiosity and the spirit of lifelong learning. You start a company with a certain set of skills and experiences, but to run a company you need to be able to broaden that skillset — and fast.”
Which begs the question: If Mark Zuckerberg limits his wardrobe decisions to one basic outfit, why shouldn’t busy men with big life aspirations reduce the time they spend dithering over grooming products?
That’s why Dollar Shave Club keeps growing.
“Looking and smelling and feeling great is an essential part of being confident and, ultimately, being successful,” says Dubin. “We have dozens of products now, and only a few are shaving products.”
— Joe Piasecki
Photo by David Yellen