From working in a fish and chip shop to owning a global award-winning skincare company, these two high school mates are on the fast track to commanding the beauty industry.
Entrepreneurs Manny Barbas and James Hachem founded the skincare company Alya Skin in 2018. Since then they have turned over $20 million, selling to 500,000 customers across 5000 global retail stores.
“James is like my brother,” says Manny. “We’ve both got such different skill sets. James is good with the numbers, and I’m on the more creative end with the marketing. We just work really well together.”
Having both come from business backgrounds, Manny and James used savings from working in a fish and chip shop and a cafe, as well as an AMEX credit card to launch their business.
Manny says they headed in with a “never look backwards” attitude and worked hard to get where they are today.
“We did the research on skincare for six to 12 months during which time we noticed a gap in the market for a clay mask that didn’t dry your skin right out.”
“Our biggest hurdle to making products that the majority liked, especially during the testing process. You give it to ten people, four might like it and six might not. It’s really important to get the product right.”
Since their launch, the Melbourne-based team has grown to six, with the global team of 30. The boys have adopted a feedback based business model, with a private Facebook group of 20,000 responsive customers.
“We get a working sample, we send it out to our most loyal customers to give us feedback,” Manny says. “It’s important we are always releasing products that customers want.”
When asked what advice he would give to an entrepreneur trying to get a business off the ground Manny simply said, “There’s never a time to start and a time not to start.”
“As long as you’ve got a good product and a good brand, pair it with good marketing and hard work and you’ll go far.”