FROM THE POOL TO BOARDROOM – COURTROOM TO THE LAB, RYAN CHANNING AND HIS PARTNER IAN THORPE SHARE THEIR JOURNEY ON CREATING BLAQ. AN AUSTRALIAN SKINCARE BRAND SMASHING GOALS IN AUS AND OVERSEAS. HERE NICCI HERRERA TALKS WITH RYAN.
The dream of BLAQ, where did it all start?
I discovered activated charcoal on a trip to Japan in 2016 and instantly saw the benefits so I wanted to create a skincare line using this as a key ingredient. Skincare has long been an interest of mine and I’ve always been a big believer that what you give your body, your body gives back to you. Whilst I had always had an interest in skincare, my background is vastly different. I was at university studying law and accepted a coveted internship at DLA Piper in Paris in Human Rights Law after which I returned to Australia and put law on hold to focus on developing BLAQ skincare full time.
How did you take a product mixed on your kitchen table to a trend phenomenon in just two years?
The first steps were working out how to turn my vision into a reality. We wanted to create a desirable unisex brand that stands out on the shop shelves and also on your bathroom vanity. We were determined to use ingredients that deliver visible results. We formulated the first product in the BLAQ range, the BLAQ Mask, to address blackheads and shrink pores, which took the world by storm and we never looked back. From there we worked hard to create additional products for a range of skincare types and concerns that would benefit from the inclusion of activated charcoal – including our Hydrogel Eye Mask, Limited Edition Meteor Shower Scrub, Teeth Whitening Pen and more. We are continuing to work on new products for BLAQ and excited to be launching our second brand – Generation Clay which is proudly Australian made and features uniquely Aussie ingredients like Kakadu and Davidson Plum, Old Man Weed (centipede cunninghamii) and clay sourced from the Outback. Since Day One we have focused on seeding our product to influencers around the world and maximising our direct communication with our target market.
A day in your life creating such a great brand – can you share what your different roles are, how you work together and your key strengths, and how this has meant you have literally taken Australia on a pore cleansing frenzy
I really live and breathe BLAQ 24/7! I love the creative process and discovering new ingredients, exploring new product ideas etc. I went to Seoul last week and came back so inspired!
Ian is involved in all branding decisions and marketing strategy. Our team is rapidly growing as we take on new markets and expand the brand lines. We’ve certainly come a long way since the days of Ian and me picking and packing orders from the kitchen table!
In the last two years, what are some of your proudest business moments with BLAQ?
When that first order came through on our website.
Having BLAQ ranged in all Priceline stores.
Receiving the first orders from Ipsy and Birchbox was huge for us. Being distributed in the US and the UK – we are now ranged in Barneys, Neiman Marcus, Space NK, Anthropologie as well as on Revolve, GOOP, Net-a-Porter and many more.
Launching Generation Clay in LA last week with some top US media and influencers in attendance including Marianne Hewitt.
With success there are challenges, can you share some testing times you faced with the brand and how you overcame them?
With any start up, there are always times when cash flow is an issue. We have been having huge success with building the brand via subscription beauty boxes in the US and around the world, but having to turn around an order for 1.3 million eye masks from production to supply in a matter of weeks has given me a few extra grey hairs.
What’s next for BLAQ?
With Generation Clay launching right now that is our focus, but we have a strong pipeline of products in the works for BLAQ as well as a new range Generation Skin – watch this space.