Everyone knows that Gillette disposable razor had been a great invention. It revolutionized even more than the shaving razor industry itself. King Gillette was a salesman who invented a disposable razor & established a company for selling those disposable razors. His marketing and invention created a new business concept that is still used. Here are some interesting facts about King C. Gillette.
King C. Gillette: 12 amazing facts about this inventor
1. Gillette had a tough early life; From Birth to 17
King C. was born in the year 1855 in a small town in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. His father and mother were also innovators. King’s father had worked at different inventions & his mother made a lot of new recipes through experiments.
When King was four years old, his family went to Chicago, where King’s father started a new hardware business in 1859.
In 1871, while he’s sixteen, the great Chicago fire destroyed their business. Then, the Gillette family moved to New York City. King’s father became the patent agent, an interesting fact about King Gillette.
2. He worked day in and day out during his middle years – from 18 to 48
King Gillette worked hard for many years as a salesman, sometimes trying different inventions to enhance the products that he was selling.
In the year 1887, when King was 32 years old, his mother successfully published a famous book known as the White House Cookbook.
King Gillette had garnered four patents; however, none of those inventions accumulated huge interest by 1890. Then, his parents got more successful as compared to King.
3. Gillette became bitter
When he was 39, in 1894, King had become quite bitter about the society–probably because of his own weaknesses & failure to get success in life. King wrote a book as well named “The Human Drift.” He criticized the rich and different business practices. In his book, Gillette wrote that the competition was the basic problem & proposed a type of utopian, a socialistic society that had no pollution. King Gillette expected to replace all sprawling cities which the industrial revolution made with the beehive form of communities.
4. He finally listened to advice
In 1895, when he was 40, King went back to Wisconsin. He started working as the salesman in Crown Cork and Seal Co. The owner of these companies had already invented a cork-lined bottle cap. The owner knew that Gillette wished to become a prosperous inventor. Hence, he gave him a piece of advice to make something that people use on a daily basis and dispose it. Thus, this advice stuck in King’s mind.
5. King Gillette got a great idea
Later, as King Gillette was getting ready to shave his beard before going to work, Gillette got irritated that the straight-edge safety was dull & would not cut. This was so old that King could not even sharpen his razor. That straight-edge safety was named “cut-throat razor” as it’s dangerous to cut anyone’s throat.
An interesting fact about King Gillette is that he at once had an idea of inspiration for such safety, which will not require stropping & honing in order to sharpen that. He had a notion of disposable safety blades, which would be sharpened by its manufacturer & then thrown away after using it. This would be secure that would be safe and secure to use, just contrary to that straight-edge razor.
6. His biggest dream became a reality
Super excited due to his idea, King Gillette visited Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and asked for metallurgists in case it was possible for them to make small pieces of steel. Surprisingly, they said that it was not possible at all.
He spent several days and worked on this idea. He partnered with William Emery Nickerson in order to refine the method. Nickerson got his education from MIT. They took about five years & spent much of their capital to find somebody who would give them such a machine that will sharpen thin metal sheets, an interesting fact about King Gillette. He was 45 years old at that time.
7. He established his own Company
They finally developed a perfect double-edged safety blade that fits into a particularly designed holder along with its handle & adjustable head. Nickerson and Gillette established their own American Safety Razor Company. They got a patent as well in the year 1901. In 1903, both of them finally began selling their own razors.
8. King Gillette was expanding his business in later years – from 49 to 77
At the start, the cost of making razor blades was ever higher as compared to the selling price. Hence, they sold razors at a loss for building up their business, an interesting fact about King Gillette.
9. He had one more amazing idea
Gillette had a great idea of giving his razors totally free to make razors popular. This was part of a huge marketing campaign.
King got a patent for his idea of the double-edged safety razor in 1904. He renamed his Company as Gillette Safety Razor Company.
10. Gillette became a billionaire
Competitors tried hard to by-pass their patents & copy King’s ideas. Then, he spent a great amount of money and time in litigation for protecting his rights.
When he was 55, in the year 1910, his Company started dominating the safety business, and King became a rich businessman. He also became a famous celebrity as his face was printed on all packages of the razor blades.
11. Gillette found utopia
He did not change his anti-capitalist point of view even after he’d himself become one. Gillette still dreamed of the utopian society that would be managed by engineers.
12. He lost capital
Due to 1929, the crash of the stock market wiped out King’s money. He became powerless in his own company. He died in 1932.
Born in Fond du Lac, Gillette made the American Safety Razor Company that’s a forerunner to the Gillette Company. Gillette sold his first razor in the year 1903. Though, just fifty-one razor sets & one hundred sixty-eight blades sold out that year. But, by 1904, his razor sales jumped to 2 million blades and 90,000 razors.
I hope that this article on King Gillette facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Facts Page!