Our “The Spotlight” series features founders and brands that inspire us. Whether it’s empowering kids, inspiring parents, or making sustainable solutions part of everyday life, we’ve spoken to people who embody the values at the heart of GRASP. Our hope is that these founder’s stories, the products they’re making, and their ambitions to make a difference in the world also inspire you.
KANKAN makes refillable botanical liquid soaps for hands, body and babies. Their iconic canned wash products have made a splash recently with their innovative design and focus on sustainability designed to remove plastic waste from the home. Recently we spoke to founder Eliza Flanagan about the KANKAN story and what motivates them as founders.
Tell us about the journey to founding KANKAN? Where did it all start and what was the big leap into the unknown you were most worried about?
I think if we’d given it more thought or had more of an idea of how much went into designing and developing a product for market, it may of put us off - but we were really keen to do something that had a positive impact to the world, and saw a gap in the market and just went for it. Sometimes naïveté is a powerful thing.
What's been the biggest challenge to starting Kankan that surprised you?
The pandemic caught us (everyone) off guard. But we’re still here and whilst our development and innovation piece has been delayed with the isolation, we’ve got lots of newness in the pipeline.
Your refillable aluminium cans are iconic. Why do you think no one has tried to deliver personal care products in packaging like this before? What other products would you like to see use this type of packaging to become more sustainable?
We love that people have identified the can with us and it’s such a ubiquitous object, iconic in its own way. We’ve simply borrowed that and used it in a new context. The point is simply that there is lots we can change if we simply think differently about what we have to work with. That includes this idea of ‘waste’ and reacquainting ourselves with the idea of value in things that we currently don’t attach value to.
Why do you think changing the way we consumer everyday routine products like body and hand wash has become such an important focus for families wanting to become more sustainable?
I think there is power in the simple daily actions we take. When you can bridge behaviour change, then people feel empowered to make other changes in their lives.
Today, people are far more clued up about what goes in the products they put on their skin. What ingredients were really important to use in your skincare and what did you have to work hard to avoid?
We like the power and additional benefits of essential oils. We also love the cutting edge of innovation in the beauty space. I think there is room for both the natural and synthetic to work together. We see lots of value in waste ingredients too. But the products have to work, and they have to be gentle on bodies and on planet.
What's your dream for what Kankan could become? Have you imagined a moment or a marker where you would say "we've made it"?
We want to help be the bridge in behaviour change, so that people that aren’t even that conscious of the circular economy or the issue of waste will use our products because they’re gorgeous to use and they love the smell, look and feel. Then we’ve made it.