These Skilled Artisans Are Bringing Straight Razor Production Back To US Soil

Scott Miyako’s spirit is pure artisan, through and through. Not only does he have a manufacturing background, he also has experience in woodworking and cabinetry. So when the former engineer began wrestling with what he termed “the shaving problem,” it made sense that he would end up crafting his own solution, too. And so the Portland Razor Co. was born.

“In getting started with straight shaving,” Scott’s partner, Alex Pletcher, explains, “he was like, ‘Okay I just gotta try making these because I make everything else all the time, and I’ve made knives and such before so let’s see where I can go.’”

The result was such a precision shave that the duo decided to make a business out of it. Pletcher and Miyako moved from Los Angeles to Portland and gave themselves an eight month window to establish the Portland Razor Co. Three years and hundreds of exquisitely crafted items later, the pair are creating and selling the most reputable American-made razor on the market.

Like many others (seriously, there is a passionate straight shaving subculture), Miyako and Pletcher were attracted to the “cool factor” of these cold, sharp steel blades. The utility was also undeniable.

“Straight razors may require more maintenance and skill to use properly,” says Miyako “but the shave quality has the potential to be far beyond anything achievable by a cartridge razor.”

But the duo wasn’t just attracted to the aesthetic and performance aspects of the product, straight razors are also a zero-waste creation. That means users aren’t tossing disposable blade after disposable blade in the trash — and considering that research from 2016 asserts a woman will shave 7,718 times in her life, a straight razor shaver can spare a lot of grooming detritus.

As Miyako became more interested in straight razors and their culture, he began researching locally produced products. He soon found the American market limited solely to expensive, custom razors. He’d worked at an American manufacturing plant and had a deep interest in the positive impact of fabricating goods in America. But a question arose: how could two Portland transplants hope to compete with a straight razor tradition that has thrived in Europe since the 1700s?

“We just thought: ‘If someone did it hundreds of years ago,’” Pletcher says, “’there’s no reason that we can’t figure it out.’”