I’ve been a wet shaving enthusiast for about 15 years. The whole obsession started with me seeing a badger hair shaving brush somewhere online back in 2005-06. After starting to search around and discovering that people used old school razors to shave with, my already-developed interest in all things old/vintage went into overdrive. Hobbies were something that I started to ‘collect’ around that time, cooking having been my first real hobby, but it was wet shaving that led me down a slope of many hobbies over the years. Since the shaving brush was so captivating to me, I decided to buy a lathe and learn how to turn wood/acrylic into shaving brush handles. I succeeded in finding some badger hair knots from China (it was a lot more difficult to import that sort of stuff 13-14 years ago) and made a handful of brushes.
During this time, I also became convinced that I could make shaving soap. This proved to be more difficult to do since ingredients weren’t readily available to me at that time and I still had a lot to learn about making soap before I felt confident to tackle “real” shaving soap. I continued to make cold-process soap over the years, often revisiting the idea of making shaving soap (and eventually aftershaves), but never quite had the recipe nailed down how I wanted it.
I thought my soapmaking and lathe-work days were behind me as all my ‘stuff’ gathered ambient dust (not lathe dust) for the better part of 6 or so years. I continued to be a wetshaving forum participant and collected various hardware during those years, but lost my motivation to create and just assumed I was done trying.
For several reasons, in the winter of 2015, I came back to soap making with renewed interest – determined to finally get the shaving soap recipe finalized and complete my lengthy R&D phase. After a lot of trial and error (and searching for good suppliers), I developed a recipe I was happy with and had some good folks help me do some beta testing. As I’ve nurtured my hobbies over the years, I always had a desire to share my creations with others. Once my initial formula was ready, Viking Soap & Cosmetic “Old Norse” was born. I also perfected a balm recipe during this time that was made available shortly after the release of the soap. More products have followed, a splash, and a now defunct beard oil.I plan to bring a few more products to market in the next phase of Viking.
Brush making was always in the cards for me and after nearly letting Viking collapse permanently in the winter of 2018, I again came back to it with full determination of taking Viking to the next level, which had to include brushes. Again, more R&D/trial and error led me to make available the first official Viking Shaving Brushes in the spring of 2019. I’ve been hard at work re-learning the lathe craft, learning to cast resin blanks from scratch, and finding a knot supplier that can provide the kind of knots I want to make available, both badger and synthetic.
I’m a scientist by trade (my day job is in Research & Development in the Agriculture industry), so I love to tinker, learn, and create and am very fortunate to have Viking to enable those desires. This business is an artisan/hobbyist endeavor, but I am fully committed to providing the best products customer service that I can. I am always happy to talk with anyone about the products or wetshaving in general and welcome any feedback or ideas that anyone has.
There will occasionally be ‘slow’ periods for Viking as I have a lot of other priorities in life, but as long as it is practical, Viking will continue.
I live in Ames, IA with my wife and son and other hobbies/interests include woodworking, cooking, gardening, and making anything I can.