Inventors inspired by father to start new ‘Legacy’

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 31, 2017

 Two brothers have invented a new way to apply shaving cream using a brush that attaches to the can.

Two brothers have invented a new way to apply shaving cream using a brush that attaches to the can.

Photo provided by Mike Gutow

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Inspired by a tradition passed on by their father, two brothers’ unique take on shaving has launched them onto the national stage with offers to have their product featured on the Home Shopping Network and The Sharper Image.

Brothers Mike Gutow, of St. Clair Shores, and Dave Gutow, of Royal Oak, came together to create Legacy Shave, the company behind their invention, the Evolution Brush. 

The Evolution Brush looks like the “old-school shaving brush” that men used to use and can still experience in barber shops, but it attaches to a can of shave cream or gel.

“When you put the shaving cream on with the brush, it lifts and stimulates the hair follicles up ... gives you a cleaner, closer shave, (and) you use a lot less product,” said Mike.

It was 20 years ago at Michigan State University that the brothers “got a kick out of that old-school, barber shop straight-razor shaving experience” and started thinking of a better way to lather up, Dave said. 

“Just like anything else, it got put on the back burner. This wasn’t the right timing,” he said. 

The company name, Legacy Shave, grew out of the fact that shaving is a legacy passed from fathers to sons, like the inspiration passed down from the Gutows’ father, Tom.

“My dad had always been a part of this idea as well, but he passed away from cancer five years ago. We had prototypes made way back in the day, (but) it wasn’t until he passed away that we realized life’s too short. We have to take a run at this,” Mike said. 

Dave said that the “inventor in us” has been there as long as he can remember, but he thinks their dream wouldn’t have come true without the advent of 3-D printing machines. Before 3-D printing, he said, inventors had to take their plans to a machine shop and have a prototype made, which “would have been a fortune and a lot of time.”

Their father owned his own tool and die shop, and Dave said that he and Mike have always wanted to own their own business. The brothers began with a lawn service in high school and then when they were at MSU, they discovered the business of student housing and got the family involved in buying houses to rent to students, the management of which has become a career for Dave. 

The brothers have been awarded a patent for the design of the Evolution Brush, and it is utility patent-pending and international patent-pending, as well. That led them to be confident enough to take it to the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago the weekend of March 17, which was their father’s birthday.

Among thousands of products submitted at the show, the Evolution Brush was a finalist for the Global Innovation Award at the show, and Mike said their booth was extremely popular with visitors as well. 

“Once people see it, they’re like, ‘That’s so cool,’” he said. 

More than 70 inventors pitched their products, and Mike said they didn’t even know they had a chance at the American Dreams contest from Home Shopping Network until, all of a sudden, they began hearing Dara Trujillo, vice president of merchandising and new business development, from HSN, talking about them and their product.

The brothers had pitched the product to three other panels, Dave said, in addition to the HSN panel, so he thought it would just be another opportunity to get feedback on the product and hear constructive criticism and tips.

“It was on that last day of the show, where the vice president of Home Shopping Network got up on stage and made this amazing five-minute speech,” Dave said. “Then she said, ‘We’ve been looking for one inventor and one product that fits all these buckets’ ... and she announced us.” 

Trujillo told the crowd they were looking for three things in a winner of the American Dreams award — that the inventor has a great story, the product solves a problem and the person who is telling the story is entertaining. The winner of the award, she said, will be featured on Home Shopping Network’s housewares segment.

Legacy Shave was also discovered by The Sharper Image and The Grommet at the show as well, he said. 

Mike said that the amount of time, money and effort they have invested in the product is “staggering to think about,” but they are happy to see their work beginning to pay off. They’re proud to make everything they can in Michigan or the United States. The nylon brush, he said, is the only part of the product made in China, but it is shipped back, assembled and packaged in the United States. 

Legacy Shave also has a pre-shave oil and an aftershave balm made by a company in Troy. Their product is manufactured in Richmond and packaged in Detroit.

Mike left his job in sales to help pursue Legacy Shave full time, which he said is difficult, but worth the risk.

“It takes a lot of risks to do this, but ... my brother and I looked at ourselves and said, ‘You know what? No more talk, let’s do this,’” he said. 

The brothers also have a partner and lawyer, Michael Melfi, whom they discovered during their search for patent attorneys.

Dave said they’re giving the venture a year to 18 months to see if it is successful.

“If it’s not (a) sustaining business ... one of us, if not both of us, might have to go back and use our degree,” Dave said, adding that it was the support of their parents, Tom and Sharon Gutow, of Clinton Township, that made it all possible.

 

The Gutows’ website, legacyshave.com, was set to go live May 31, after press time. The product was also set to be placed in the Sharper Image Father’s Day Catalog on that date.

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