What Razor LOVES: August 2019


We’re an eclectic bunch at team Razor.

Each month, we’ll share with the world a flavour of what’s caught our attention and influenced our thinking and conversations in the office.


Chloë B
I’ve found Channel 4’s Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain fascinating. This three-part documentary explores her rise to fame as one of the first big reality stars ‘famous for being famous’ and how she carved out her career in the pre-social media age. It’s shocking, and sometimes uncomfortable, viewing but definitely worth the watch.
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Chloë F
I, too, have been gripped by Channel 4’s Jade Goody series, not just because Chloe B’s been watching it. I was actually alive when Jade Goody was doing her thing; it was the last series I’d watched of Big Brother. I remember everything unfold in real time – horribly, meanly, tragically. I wept my way through the first episode in this series and had to fast-forward some of the second (the bullying and shouting was just too ugly). I’m steeling myself for the third episode because we all know how it ends. It’s fascinating, even beyond ‘just Jade’. It’s reminding me of a pre-social media time when we had to find other ways to follow obsessions. It’s reminded me how willingly manipulated we are by the media sources we trust (and love). It’s reminded me how much reality TV was once a delicious, thrilling, crazy adventure. I feel lucky that I was around for its infancy. I don’t know how I feel about it being all grown up. And I feel very, very sad about Jade.
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Like millions of people, I struggle to remember a time before Brexit and the current US president dominating the daily news. As a result, I find it difficult to keep myself informed on what’s going on outside of that bubble because it means having to sift through acres of the same old rubbish before getting anywhere. Enter: The Week Unwrapped; a weekly half-hour podcast from Olly Mann, along with writers from The Week magazine, discussing global news stories passing under the radar. The topics might not be making the headlines but they’re likely to have repercussions for all our lives. (See: a) reliability of mobile phone data in court cases or b) facial recognition technology as examples.)  

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August has been all about balls, bails and Ben (Stokes). Cricket has even knocked politics down my list of things to fret about. Now, if we can just get Stokes working on Brexit…
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This month I have been blown away by a blog site I’ve found called Farnam Street and its accompanying podcast, The Knowledge Project. I love nothing more than learning about new ways of thinking and this resource is a treasure cove of different mental models and insights more effective decision making. I’ve already pre-ordered the book which will be on its way to me in October!
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Never would I have thought that one of my favourite shows would be about American football! However, Last Chance U is about much more than that. Each season it follows a community college team and their coach as they battle through each game to try and win the championship. It’s not a simple process because many of the players have had a difficult start in life and are struggling to overcome their own misgivings; that and the coaches are often battling with their own ego. It’s fascinating! You really feel for some of the players when things go wrong but get so excited when people make amazing plays on the field (seriously, I get on my feet and cheer at the TV!). I still have some favourites from season one who got signed and it warms my heart that they are doing well. What I can’t handle though, is that very few will ever make it to the NFL and, through chasing their dream, they’re putting their own health at risk.
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At a time of peak climate crisis, I’ve been looking into what various companies and workplaces are doing to reduce their carbon footprint and give back to the world. ASOS’s corporate responsibility programme really struck me. Some of its projects include plastic free canteens, recyclable packaging, foundation funds in India and delivering packages using 100% electric vans. Their wider efforts to minimise environmental impact and giving back to the wider community is something I believe more companies should adopt. By implementing this they expect to reduce their carbon emissions in central London by 62% annually! It’s inspired me to use alternative methods in daily life to reduce my own carbon footprint.
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I’ve been learning just how incredible and important virtual reality technology is rapidly becoming. Recent articles about the latest versions of Oculus Rift reveal how staggeringly absorbing and realistic the experience is. The applications for this technology are truly extensive, (and somewhat frightening!). Razor needs to get on board with this asap.
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On your marks, get set, SPEND!

I’ve always been in awe of my parent friends, always busy juggling their work and family lives. Some of them are super organised and do their best to stick to a schedule. Others are more laid back and have a more ‘reactive’ approach to whatever life throws at them. Whatever their method, I admire them all.

And, as I watch most of them counting down the minutes to their offspring being handed back to their hardworking teachers (and while I’m silently dreading the thought of my buses and trains being crammed with the little darlings from next week), I’ve had my eyes fully opened to the preparation going on behind the scenes.

In my clueless mind, back-to-school prep simply meant fresh pencil cases, shoes, bag, and a uniform that can mostly be bought from the major supermarkets. (Should add here that I’m not oblivious to the facts that: a) this list alone is too long for many families in the UK and b) that these costs seriously add up if you have more than one child to cater for.) Note: Reading this back, I realise I’ve not even included a coat in the above list. Like I say, I am CLUELESS. 

What I also hadn’t considered was the rising tech costs to be added to the list. Turns out, a smartphone here, a tablet there, and a laptop over there…has helped make back-to-school spending the third biggest retail spending event after Christmas and Black Friday. Yikes. 

Mintel valued the B-t-S market at £1.16 billion in 2018, an increase of 36% on the previous year’s £855million. Whether we’ll reach those dizzy heights in 2019 remains to be seen; but there are few things to consider rather than simply attributing any gains to forking out loads of money on expensive phones etc.

Pressure (brands)
There will always a place for brands alongside the traditional uniform. And parents will always feel a certain pressure to fork out for the ‘right’ trainers, coats, bags and so on.

Pressure (ethical)
There’s now a bigger spotlight on sustainability meaning that so-called ‘fast fashion’ uniform items bought from the discounters are being overlooked in favour of quality products that will last longer.

There’s a lot of competition from discounters constantly trying to pull in shoppers unable to spend as much on higher quality/longer lasting items.

Convenience and value
Whether it’s buying everything under one roof or from the same website, the less ‘faff’ involved the better. This is why supermarkets do so well at this time of year – and why online retailers will come up with all kinds of incentives (free shipping/returns/gifts) to encourage parents to shop for discounted items at their leisure.

Which brings us to the ‘when’…

In the ‘smug’ corner, are my friends ‘T’ and ‘S’ who bought their kids’ uniforms etc. in July so that ‘it’s all done and we won’t have to think about it until September’.

Meanwhile, erring on the side of caution, are my friends ‘J & N’ whose kids go back to school on Tuesday. They’ve been ‘waiting to see how much they grow over the summer before buying anything’… 

Parents, I salute you.