Like Grandpa: A conversation with Ken Kaminski-Raab

by Leigh Johnson October 30, 2018

Local to Edmonton, Kent of Inglewood has offered Like Grandpa Grooming Products for two years now, and we love ‘em! You may have noticed that they recently launched an Anise scent exclusively for us. It is available in all Like Grandpa’s products: pre-shave oil, shaving soap, aftershave balm, beard oil, and beard balm!

The creator behind the Like Grandpa Grooming products, Ken Kaminski-Raab, can’t stand the smell of anise, but luckily he likes us, so he gladly made us a batch. Now it’s here, and it’s amazing. I shave with this scent all the time now. And better still, Ken says he’s coming around to enjoying anise. He won’t say he loves it—yet—but “it’s grown on me,” he’ll admit.


Another stand-out scent of Like Grandpa Groom Products’ is their Wild Rose. Every July, they release a limited run and selection in this scent (this year was beard oil and shaving soap). $5 from each item goes to the Ronald McDonald House of Northern Alberta. If you’re unfamiliar with their work, this charity helps families who require housing and social spaces during a child’s hospital stay.  

Ken was good enough to chat with me for a little while and discuss his products and gave me some insight into Like Grandpa Grooming Products, the company’s values, and the effort behind the products.

Leigh: Why did you choose to make grooming products? How did figure out you could make them, and wanted to?

Ken:I was really just scratching my own itch. I couldn’t get a decent shave; I was wet shaving and, I just thought, ‘there had to be more.’ I didn’t want to settle for having terrible shaves for 40 or 50 years. And then I thought, “Could I makeother people’s lives better?”

I have a background in engineering, and that makes making things easy. The question isn’t “Can I make that?” it’s “How can I make that?” and for me, “How can I make something that other people will love, too?” I don’t see making my own things as a barrier. Do something to add value to your life.

L:How long have you been wet shaving? How long before you started making your own products?

K:About six years. I started after graduating from engineering. I wanted to get a better shave. It was probably a year into that that I started making my own products. I felt like all the promises of wet shaving didn’t come to fruition until I added products that were right for our geography.

L:What’s different about your products?

K:It’s brutally dry here, and men wonder why we have terrible skin. So Like Grandpa puts skin care into every product. We also focus on usability. Everything I didn’t love about wet shaving, I tried to remove or improve. Our products aren’t greasy, they absorb quickly, so for example they won’t leave grease on your phone. That was one of the biggest pain points for people testing these.

We also only do single-note scents. I was tired of being marketed all the super-manly named scents that unless I smelled it, I didn’t know what it was. I wanted a product that was simple and effective, and I wanted our products to be simple as well. You can look at the label and know if you like lavender or spearmint. It’s right there. It’s honest.

I also think we lose appreciation for single notes. A guy who “doesn’t like lavender” realizes there’s something spicy to lavender on its own, and has this surprised reaction that he likes it when it’s not mixed with other floral notes.

L:What Like Grandpa product is your favourite? What one do you use every day?

K:I don’t have a favourite. All of them solve a specific problem for me. We launched based on my pre-shave, because that fixed my shave for me. I’m a big advocate for pre-shave, especially here on the prairies. The aftershave is one I use every day because it’s a skincare product that guysshould be doing every day, but don’t always. Presenting it as an aftershave makes them more likely to use it.

The shave soap came from a realization that these soaps that had a supposedly great lather were struggling in our hard water. I almost don’t even test other soaps any more because I love ours so much!

I guess if I had to pick a favourite, I would say I love the Wild Rose products. We support an amazing organization—the Ronald McDonald House—and for me, we took a scent that guys overlook as feminine but when they crack that tin of shave soap or open the beard oil, they’re blown away and they love it!

The first year we made Wild Rose [it is released every July - ed.], it took us a very long time to sell out, into next year. But this year, it sold out in three weeks. So I think we changed a lot of minds.

L:I love your Wild Rose shave soap. I love how it blends with the sandalwood splash from D.R. Harris.

K:That’s another thing about single-note scents, is they’re versatile. You can match all of the notes, or make your own blend.

L:Do you have a favourite product to make?

K: I enjoy making beard balms the most. The oils are pretty simple, and the shave soaps are labour intensive, but the beard balms are relatively quick to make and turn out great. And they make a perfect pour as the wax solidifies, which is just so satisfying!

L: I noticed the aftershaves look a bit different.

K:We started whipping them and piping them so they have better presentation in the cans.

L:What’s your vision for the future of Like Grandpa Grooming Products? What should we be looking forward to?

K: In this last month we launched our sister line, Like Grandma Beauty Products - I think it’s unique in the men’s grooming world to say, “Hey let’s take our values and produce something for another type of customer.” We just launched a ton of new scents, including the Anise, which it took months and months for us to make for you guys.

We’re also starting to do more on the soap side of things. I think we can apply a lot of what we do to body soaps. Keep an eye out in the next year. From there, I don’t know! All our products come from a necessity and something we want to improve in our own lives. Maybe fragrances? Maybe pomades? That’s the fun thing - we get to figure it out!

L: What do you like about Kent of Inglewood?

K: I just love the shop. I’m in there every week after the Farmer’s Market, hanging out because the staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and it’s fun to nerd out. It’s also such a well-curated shop. It’s not just bringing things in and selling them, it’s coming and chatting with someone who knows a lot about Scandinavian knives, soap packaging; it’s about connecting with something more and learning about who’s making it, and the connection beyond the product itself. Plus it’s just badass. I also like to walk into a shop where it’s old timey, and it’s like Cheers - everybody knows your name!

Thank you guys for supporting local makers - it makes such a huge difference to us, and we appreciate it!

Thanks to Like Grandpa Grooming Products for the interview! We look forward to lots more together!

Here’s a few Like Grandpa favourites to get you started. All of their products are available in seven scents: anise, cedar, eucalyptus, lavender, lime, sandalwood, or spearmint.

Leigh Johnson
Leigh Johnson

A firm believer that if you're not pulling ridiculous faces, you're shaving improperly, Leigh considers himself a straight razor evangelist. Come listen to him proselytize any time. You can pick him out by finding the one who smells like Winston Churchill - who also wore Floris Special No 127. When not at the shop, he's probably reading something geeky, or cooking, both with a scotch in hand (neat, please).



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