Life Style

Dollar Shave Club Lays Off MEL Staff, Source Says, and Seeks a Buyer

  • Dollar Shave Club laid off MEL Magazine’s editorial team on Wednesday, a source said.
  • The site became a media-industry darling despite being owned by a razor brand.
  • MEL does not run advertising but recently launched paid newsletters.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Dollar Shave Club is laying off the staff of MEL Magazine, its men’s lifestyle and culture website, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.

MEL staffers were informed of the layoffs on Wednesday. The publication is seeking a buyer and may face shutting down if it doesn’t find one.

It was unclear how many people were affected. MEL’s masthead lists about 20 people, plus 16 contributors. 

“After six years of successful partnership and transforming the men’s health and media spaces for the better, MEL and Dollar Shave Club’s financial relationship will come to an end in 60 days,” Editor in Chief Josh Schollmeyer said in a statement.

Schollmeyer added: “MEL will stop publishing effective Wednesday, and the complete focus will now be on finding the right new owner. This has always been a part of the plan for our brand-backed partnership, and we’re incredibly proud of what we’ve built together.

“We look forward to our next phase of opportunities and growth, thank our incredible team and readers for their support and can now finally create all of the razor content we’ve been dying to explore.”

A Dollar Shave Club spokesperson said: “We are grateful for everything that Josh and his team has built at MEL. Unfortunately, we have had to make the difficult decision to move forward without them so we can better focus on our consumer business. We wish them all the best and are doing everything we can to support them through this transition. We are hopeful for the publication’s next chapter.”

Founded in 2015, MEL won industry attention for going beyond the traditional topics of men’s media like cars and fitness and instead publishing stories about toxic masculinity alongside cultural coverage and funny material. On Wednesday, popular articles on the site included stories about why Irish people dislike the band U2, the ethics of saving nude photos sent by an ex, and the black market for counterfeit Viagra.

Dollar Shave Club launched MEL amid a wave of brand-backed publications — projects that often ended abruptly, like in the case of Casper and Airbnb. MEL published on Medium before becoming a stand-alone site in 2018. While the publication covered men’s grooming, it maintained an editorial wall with Dollar Shave Club and was not a sponsored-content vehicle.

That separation raised questions about how much financial sense MEL made for the razor seller. Michael Dubin, the founder and former CEO of Dollar Shave Club who helped start MEL, stepped down from Dollar Shave Club earlier this year. (Unilever acquired the company in 2016 for $1 billion, according to Fortune.)

The site was led by Schollmeyer and deputy editor Alana Hope Levinson. “I’m really proud of what MEL accomplished; how it forever changed the men’s media landscape — and hopefully some men, too — for the better,” Levinson tweeted.

“When I interviewed for the MEL job, Michael Dubin told me the project would be ‘editorially pure,’ and he kept that promise,” John McDermott, a founding MEL writer who now works as a freelancer, said.

“Dubin and Josh gave us the time and space to take risks and find our voice, which is why MEL cultivated such a loyal following,” McDermott added. “MEL never would have been as successful if we didn’t have that creative freedom early on, and I can’t imagine another business organization would provide the same level of support.”

MEL’s site has no ads, but the publisher sells merchandise and has sought to bring in revenue through paid newsletters, which launched this month.

Prospective buyers for MEL remain unclear. 

The author of this story has previously written for MEL.

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