Meet the Makers: Ken and Cody Lynn 9

Dark Holler Design Works & Paladin Shaving Brushes

Ken Lynn of Overland Park, KS, and his son Cody, established Dark Holler Design Works and started making Paladin shaving brushes in August 2014. At the time, Ken, a 1981 graduate of KU Law School, was winding down a 30-year career in the bio-pharmaceutical industry, and Cody had just received a degree in Industrial Design from KU. By the end of 2014, Paladin® shaving brushes were gaining recognition as being among the finest traditional shaving brushes made by anyone, anywhere.

Dark Holler Design Works and the Paladin Shaving venture evolved out of a community project on the Badger & Blade wet-shaving site. Ken had designed a brush handle (subsequently dubbed the Chief™) and persuaded Lee Sabini, a famed and notoriously elusive London brush-maker, to produce 100 shaving brushes incorporating the design. Offered exclusively to members of Badger & Blade, those brushes sold out in one day.

Energized by the experience and perceiving an opportunity, Ken and Cody set about assembling a small but remarkably capable home-shop built around 25-year-old, Austrian-made, precision-CNC lathes.   After Ken posted photos of his first prototype handle (the PK-47™), Mr. Sabini called to ask if Ken thought he might be able to turn 100 handles and have them delivered to London in time for completion before the holiday season. That sufficed to bring Cody into the venture, and Dark Holler Design Works was formed.

The first batch of 100 Paladin-labeled shaving brushes, priced at $160 each, was quickly over-subscribed. Subsequent reviews by enthusiasts around the world hailed Paladin shaving brushes as setting new standards, particularly in handle design, production, and finish-quality.

In February of last year, Dark Holler was asked to design and make a limited edition of 100, numbered and custom-engraved Paladin shaving brushes to mark the third anniversary of The Shave Nook, another popular website dedicated to traditional wet-shaving. Those brushes, priced at $180, sold out within 97 seconds of their online release in early July 2015. By that time, demand for Paladin shaving brushes had grown to completely over-whelm Dark Holler’s capacity. Production continued, but the company suspended sales until it could design and create a website in keeping with its product philosophy and vision. finally went live this past March. Since then brushes have continued to fly off the shelf as fast as they can be made and placed in the Paladin Shaving online store.

Paladin Shaving began another hiatus from brush sales in late June in order to move and expand shop operations. The main shop, with substantially increased capacity, is now located in space near Stillwell, KS.