[4 MINUTE READ]
Happy Friday all and welcome back to your weekly Friday Founder Interview. This week, we are delighted to bring some sunshine to your day in the form of Eliza Flanagan.
Eliza is the Co-Founder of KanKan, a soap and body wash company that puts your skin and our planet first.
"We wanted to create a product line of everyday essentials and that drove us to look at the bathroom; the room where it is hardest to find alternatives to plastic."
Morning Eliza! Thanks for joining us. Please could you start by telling me a bit about your childhood and how you feel it has influenced you today?
I grew up in rural South Australia, with my parents running restaurants during the early years. My first business was a table on the verandah of the restaurant where I used to scribble on large butcher’s paper, roll them up and sell them as wands for 20c. My mum couldn’t handle the crap merchandise so she bought some plants from up the road for me to sell instead.
Aw, that’s so sweet! So, how did you get started in the beauty industry?
Well, we wanted to do something about the irrational use of plastics in the home. At first, we wanted to create a product line of everyday essentials and that drove us to look at the bathroom; the room where it is hardest to find alternatives to plastic. That was when we started to look at soaps, ingredients and quality.
Wow, so bathroom products weren't the original plan! When did you decide to start up KanKan and why? Was the timing important?
We started looking at the space in 2018 and we launched in 2019. We felt time was of the essence because of our sustainability mission so we were keen to start as soon as possible.
I totally relate to that. When you have a clear goal in your mind, you want to get to work as soon as possible! Does KanKan consider issues relating to sensitive skin and allergies?
Totally! We are told regularly that our soaps are really gentle so they are good for those with sensitive skin and/or eczema. We are also looking to make our new range suitable for all skins over the age of four months; that way they can be used by all the family. We want to ensure our products are as gentle as possible whilst still being effective for people and safeguarding our planet in the process.
That’s brilliant! So how does sustainability factor into your business?
Sustainability really is the foundation of all our business decisions. We consider the Circular Economy to be our guide and try to apply ‘best practice’. This may mean everyday decisions like ensuring we return our wholesale containers to the manufacturer or ensuring our supply chain is as small and local as possible.
It’s true, there are lots of different ways for businesses to be more sustainable. Do you think people are more conscious of the ingredients in their beauty and skincare products nowadays? If so, why?
The knowledge the average person has now about products, ingredients and sustainable practices is really impressive. People care! They share their knowledge with each other. Trust is built and grown rather than assumed nowadays. It is making us all be more transparent, which can only be better for all in the long term.
Absolutely! So, from the business perspective, what were your biggest challenges in starting up KanKan?
There is nothing better than seeing your work out there in the world, being used and loved. There are many challenges but I’d always rather be working for myself than doing something else.
That’s great to hear! And what strategies do you think have been key to the success of KanKan?
Choosing a great business partner is key and I lucked out.
I completely agree. What is your favourite thing about your job?
I feel as though we are contributing to making the world a better place.
"Our body wash is the one we use the most at home. It’s a great all-rounder and smells really good."
There cannot be many better motivators than that! Could you describe what an average day looks like for you?
I have two small kids so they bookend my day. The middle chunk is spent doing general business activities; I am often on calls or planning for things. There is a lot going on at the moment, so planning ahead is exciting!
Would you say that you have a work/life balance?
I think that as the business evolves it is critical to constantly review things. I work a lot. I know how vital it is to do this in the early stages, but I’m not a fan of work dominating my life in the long term.
The balance is very important. Right, which is your favourite product in the range?
Our body wash is the one we use the most at home. It’s a great all-rounder and smells really good.
It looks gorgeous! Could you describe your biggest “pinch-me” moment since starting up KanKan?
Seeing our full page spread in the Financial Times last year was pretty great.
Wow! Congratulations. That is brilliant. What inspires you?
The Fridays for Future activists and the XR founders.
And what words do you live by?
Be like water.
I love that too! Finally, could you reveal any future plans you have for KanKan?
We have a lot in the works. For now, I’ll say we are doing a lot of fundraising, we have some new product launches coming up and also subscriptions!