13 Questions For Stan Hickam Of Above The Tie

stan hickam


When Stan Hickam is not busy designing and building stainless steel razors and systems, he manages to find time for other pursuits.  For one thing, he completely renovated the ancestral log home of his wife’s family. The project was so well done that the home—built in 1783—now occupies a place in the National Register of Historic Places.  Stan has a full-time job in addition to running Above The Tie: he has worked as a Radiographer for a “Level One” trauma center for the past thirty years. On top of his regular duties, he designed radiographic rooms for the hospital as well as a suite for their outpatient imaging center.

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An Interview with Stan Hickam, President of Above The Tie (ATT)

I recently had the pleasure of purchasing an ATT 7-Piece Stainless Steel Razor System from Above The Tie, a new product from a very young company. This Tennessee-based firm designs, engineers and manufactures its razors locally using U.S. labor and U.S. steel.

Prior to buying the ATT system, I purchased my first stainless steel razor from them. Their Titan H1 demonstrated to me that the company’s close attention to manufacturing detail and quality control showed that they are producing high-grade razors capable of competing successfully with manufacturers of top-notch razors worldwide. I was so impressed with the Titan that I decided to upgrade to their 7-piece stainless razor system.

Why a razor system? What real-life needs might a system address? In my personal experience, I primarily use aggressive razors because I have a very wiry beard that mild razors have never been able to cut effectively.

With my standard four-pass approach, it was rare for me to get true BBS results with mild razors. In the past, my favorite DEs had been those that are considered to be aggressive, and I’ve primarily used longer, heavier handles to further boost their natural effectiveness. These razors come at a price. The curvature of my neck requires me to adjust my shaving technique because of the handles’ lengths, which makes them less maneuverable. Also, even though my technique is fairly sound, very aggressive razors like the Mühle R41 require a lot of concentration, and despite my best efforts, sometimes require a time-out when irritation builds up. I keep a Merkur HD on hand as a backup for these times.

For me, the ATT system meant I might find a single, high-quality tool to address all my shaving needs with a minimum need to adapt my shaving style. I found that the ATT system did this very well, in fact, better than I had expected.

What follows is an interview with Stan Hickam, President of Above The Tie, and the chief architect of its product designs, manufacturing processes and marketing efforts. The interview is the result of email exchanges and a number of telephone conversations. [Read more…]

Above The Tie 7-Piece Stainless Steel Razor System

The Above The Tie (ATT) razor system is a new product from a very young company. This Tennessee-based firm designs, engineers and manufactures its razors locally using U.S. steel and U.S. labor. My recent experience with their Titan model demonstrated to me the company’s close attention to manufacturing detail and quality control showed me that they are capable of producing high-quality razors that are competitive with manufacturers worldwide.

The Above The Tie 7-piece stainless steel razor system is beautifully made, and its quality is readily apparent on first sight and touch. It has a fine satin-matte finish and surprising heft for its size. The gleaming texturing of the handle makes for an attractive and sure grip and the balance made it immediately at home in my hands. This is a fine razor system, there is no mistaking that. [Read more…]