Angel Shave Club
An entrepreneur takes a piece of the Pink Tax to task
Posted on April 26, 2019
Have you ever heard of something called the “Pink Tax?” So named because many of the items affected by this pricing phenomenon are pink, it refers to an elevated price for products targeted for women over men. And if that sounds unfair, there are a lot of people out there who agree. Iskra Tsenkova decided to do something about it.
The Bulgarian-born Tsenkova wasn’t necessarily looking to start a business. She originally came to the U.S. simply seeking a brighter future. “My ultimate, greatest dream ever since I can remember was to come to America,” says Tsenkova. “For me, it was the land of opportunities; it was where dreams come true and come to life.” After an initial work-study program took her first to Orange County, she then moved to San Diego, where she ultimately met and married her husband. One birthday, she bought him a gift of the Dollar Shave Club, delivering a regular supply of razors in the mail. When he saw her overpaying for her own razors at the market, he returned the favor and bought her a duplicate subscription of her own. However, a fateful day in the shower when she couldn’t distinguish her razor from her husband’s prompted her to seek a shave club specifically designed for women, which unfortunately, she was shocked to learn, didn’t exist.
Tsenkova got to work creating Angel Shave Club, a mail-order shaving supplies subscription exclusively for women. Through her journey, she learned more than she’d set out to, like those mind-boggling statistics regarding price gouging on women’s items — specifically that women pay up to 13 percent more for the exact same razors men use. But, she also discovered other information she didn’t anticipate, like that women’s skin has different rates of absorption than men’s, leading to a thoughtful attention to every ingredient in the company’s custom shaving products, even down to the razor’s moisture strip.
She and her husband and co-founder, Brian Archambo, began by fulfilling orders out of their spare bedroom in 2016 and outgrew it within a month, though they continued packing shipments themselves for another year until they could no longer keep up with demand on their own. Then, a huge breakthrough in 2018: they got the opportunity to pitch the venerable panel on TV’s Shark Tank. Sworn to silence, the pair couldn’t share the outcome until the episode aired in January 2019. While they didn’t land a deal, Tsenkova acknowledges the value of the experience, and the awareness it garnered only helped propel the company further. “Even without the deal, business is still booming,” she says, noting that the entrepreneurial road isn’t always a smooth one. “Sometimes it’s not perfect and it’s frustrating, but it’s still a learning experience. I wouldn’t change it for the world.” angelshaveclub.com Deanna Murphy
Photo by Bob Stefanko