Some might ask how two men who had no beauty background managed to create Alya Skin Pink Clay Mask, one of the biggest selling face masks. Manny Barbas and James Hachem reveal how it all began. James recalls it was his marketing background came to the fore after seeing clay masks trending on social media. “I said to James, ‘watch clay masks will be the next hype similar to what happened with teeth whitening’,” Manny recalls. And he was spot on the money after working on the brand since early 2017 and perfecting the product they sent the mask to more than 1000 influencers, who created a social media frenzy. The rest is beauty history! James shares his story.
Tell us how you two came together at 22 years old to be business partners?
Manny and I were always entrepreneural minded when we were younger and constantly reminded each other that we would love to go into business together. At 22 the opportunity arose where we could finally work together and it was one of the best decisions we ever made as we really compliment each other.
Where did you meet?
We met at high school in Year 9 and have been close friends ever since.
How did you fund the business in its early stages?
Manny and I funded it ourselves with pocket money from previous small businesses we had launched throughout high school and in university.
In just four months you earnt more than $1 million after developing Alya Skin Pink Clay Mask. Tell us about that.
It was a great feeling to be able to launch and have so many people interested in our products for sure. However, as great it is to see sales coming in, we have never taken our eye off the main focus in becoming a global brand and continuing to launch high quality products.
What has been the secret to your success?
I feel like it would be to cliché to say our succsess has come from hard work and commitment to the brand but I think that’s where it has definitely come from. We worked 12 hours a day for 3 months before we even had launched. We try to stay ahead of the game and continue to be innovative with how we can grow the brand and be different to every other company.
The Alya Skin Pink Clay mask has become a sensation – where did you develop the concept?
At the time we were looking for a mask that wouldn’t dry out your skin and a mask that felt, smelt and looked different to all others on the market.
Do you think that social media has played a huge part in its success?
We have used social media in every way possible to help us grow our brand. Facebook and Instagram have allowed us to scale our business from day one and we will continue to advertise on these platforms.
You had sent the product to 1,000 influencers to post – how did you choose these?
We have sent product to 1,000 micro influencers every month since launching as we thought this would be a great way to penetrate the market. It has worked for us and we will continue use micro influencers to create content and brand awareness. We have a team of seven who work on this and they have a system on how they choose girls.
What was your goal starting out the business?
We launched in January 2018 and our first goal was to launch in Priceline Pharmacies. Achieving this after 9 months was a dream come true. We now have goals to launch into large global retailers.
How did you come up with the name?
We were googling the word ‘soft’ in different languages. We feel that our name is a huge part to our success.
You don’t have any specific beauty experience – what elements did you bring to the table to make this a success?
We did a lot of research prior to manufacturing and developing the product, as well as working with beauty professionals who advised us on the best, key ingredients to create a product that makes your skin not only clean and toxin free, but soft as well. We also work like crazy – and know how to mass market well. When we launched the brand, the feedback was so strong from our customer base that the brand skyrocketed – literally… we were in shock at how much people loved our mask in particular.
What has the feedback been like?
The feedback has been crazy – we couldn’t be happier, we truly have an amazing product range that works and the feedback / online reviews speaks for itself.
What do you do for down time?
I like to spend time with friends and family – it’s important to switch off during the weekends (if you can).
What are the plans for the brand?
To continue to grow our product range and be in every major market in the world.
Any favourites in the range?
Definitely – the pink clay mask!
How is the range different from what is on the market?
We use ingredients that are suitable for sensitive skin – our mask is also moisturising, and doesn’t dry your skin out like a lot of other products out there.
Tell us your motto in life?
My honest motto is ‘everything happens for a reason’ – I’ve never usually liked having a business partner until now – it feels as if we were meant to work together for a reason – we’re Ying and Yang and I think that contributes greatly to our success.
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