James N. P. O'Brien '05



Education

Pine Point School Class of 2005
Deerfield Academy Class of 2008
Colby College B.A. (Sociology), 2012

Current Position

Entrepreneur



A successful Kickstarter campaign. A growing profile on social media. An American Made product that’s attracting buyers on-line and in stores. You might think that James O’Brien’s success thus far with building and launching his own company was something he’d prepared for all his life. Not so.


“Growing up, and even through college, I always thought I had zero interest in business. I saw myself as a creative person and business seemed the exact opposite of that. That all changed once I had an idea that I thought was worthwhile, and figured out that business isn’t some soulless pursuit. It’s creative problem-solving on a very large scale…it’s about building something, affecting change, and creating meaning. And there are so many tools available today to help with business and entrepreneurship.”

James gained first-hand experience on life in a start-up through his first job after college with an online marketplace for apartment-hunters in Boston, but it was a few years later while singing with a band that James began to follow the path to entrepreneurship. “My good friend told me that you could keep razor blades sharp using denim. I was incredulous, but he was right. In the year that followed, I used only five razor cartridges. I was sold. Then…I was sitting on the couch one day, and it hit me. Barbers have used strops for centuries to keep their straight razors sharp. Why not apply the same concept to disposable razor cartridges?”
from Pine Point.”

James and two friends launched their new company ShaveFace and their first product – The Strop - via a Kickstarter campaign in January 2015. “Before the 30-day campaign ended, we had raised over $60,000. Contributions came in from England, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Singapore, Brunei…and many other countries.” Though support and interest in the company and The Strop come from an international clientele, James and his partners are committed to making their products in the USA. “By sourcing our product domestically…we’ve been able to see American industry first-hand. We have the privilege of working with job creators and entrepreneurs, skilled artisans, capable craftsmen, and savvy business leaders. It’s all about quality. We’re not willing to bend on quality to improve our margins.” In addition to growing the business online, James and his partners are developing their in-store retail network. Currently in stores in Nashville and Memphis, they plan to expand to NYC, Boston, and Provincetown. “I’ve learned a lot in the past year, and thankfully that trend continues every day. I’ve learned that every mistake is a chance to learn – I don’t even view them as mistakes, really. When it comes to starting a business, forward momentum is the key. Decisions beget decisions, and decisions help you grow. I love the growth mindset and it’s one that has served me well. Undoubtedly, I got a ton of it