North Dakotans have a beautiful ability to find joy in the simplicity of everyday life – which is why we are home to amazing companies such as Badlands Shaving Company, who have turned an ordinary task into a work of art.
Badlands Shaving is a Mandan-based family affair helmed by Melvin Faris, a 40-year construction tradesman and self-taught woodturner, who crafts shaving products that have been featured on the DIY Network, Great American Country, and Laurie March Home. Melvin has shared his love of woodworking with his son, Dustin, and together the two find new ways to elevate the typical morning routine, while Mom Syl does the engraving and takes care of the business aspects of Badlands Shaving.
The very kind Melvin has offered up his thoughts on how North Dakota is s(h)aving the world:
Tell us about your connection to North Dakota.
I grew up in Southwestern North Dakota on a farm near Bowman. Over the years I lived in several other states but North Dakota was always home to me. We moved back to North Dakota about 20 years ago to be closer to family and to raise our kids here. The work ethic and values of the people here are different than other that we have been and that was important to us.
Tell us about Badlands Shaving.
I started off wanting to make pens and did that for a while before my son suggested I should try razors. The process is similar, but I enjoyed it more so it just kind of took off from there. I do a lot of searching for exotic wood and like to use unique pieces that you don’t see around here. It’s interesting to look at a piece of wood and try to guess what it will look like when I’m done. Sometimes it surprises you! I do use some local wood, too. My favorite local wood is Caragana, which is a bush that is used in a lot of shelterbelts around farmsteads in the area. It has very unique characteristics. We use mica powder to color the resin, but the wood is always all-natural (no stain or any other products).
Badlands Shaving consists of myself, my wife and my son. My wife runs the engraver and does all the personalization on the razors and helps a lot with shipping. My son has his own shop and does most of his work there, so we don’t actually cross paths all that much. It is nice when we do have a day of turning together though.
What are you most proud of related to Badlands Shaving?
I started this business with just a couple hundred dollars in tools and nothing else. I taught myself how to turn wood on a lathe and my interest and success got my son interested. It has just grown from there. I am proud of the fact that my products are used by people all over the world. I’ve sold to all states and about 15 different countries.
What do you see coming up next for Badlands Shaving?
I would like to expand the selection of products we offer. I am working with another Pride of Dakota business to start selling shaving cream soon, and will be adding other products like shaving bowls, etc. Right now this is a part-time business for me, but I am looking to expand to full-time in the next few years.
Why should people by North Dakota-made products over anywhere else?
When I attend a Pride of Dakota show (or any local vendor show) I see the quality, pride, and the hard work that goes into each piece. I think customers are looking for that quality and want something unique to give as gifts. North Dakota vendors provide that for you, and the money you spend stays local.
[From Amanda: You can check out Badlands Shaving’s amazing line of products here. They make great gifts for any occasion, especially if you’re looking for a unique groomsmen gifts. And Badlands Shaving isn’t just for men – they have a great variety of razors for women, too!]