A brand without a label: Inside Chris Glebatsas and Anthony McDonough’s new social enterprise

unlabelled

Chris Glebatsas (left) and Anthony McDonough. Source: supplied.

How do you market a brand called Unlabelled?

That’s the question serial entrepreneurs Chris Glebatsas and Anthony McDonough were asked when establishing their skincare range of the same name. While selling fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) without a ‘label’ would present a challenge for some, for the two founders, the name choice distils the essence of what their youth-focused social enterprise is all about. 

Unlabelled is the first social enterprise to be launched by profit-for-purpose investment vehicle, The BiMM Group, founded by Glebatsas and McDonough to support social and environmental causes “that aim to leave our world in a better place for future generations”. 

There are four products in the initial Unlabelled range — hand wash, body wash and two body bars — all the profits from which will go to charities working to support the mental health of young Australians and reduce the incidence of youth suicide, including Black Dog Institute, QLife, Headspace and Kids Helpline. 

Each of the products feature messages encouraging their users to “be you” in a way that “celebrates diversity without the need for labels”. 

“That’s the whole point [of calling the brand Unlabelled],” McDonough tells SmartCompany.

“Allowing kids to accept who they are, whether that’s body image or sexuality,” he adds. “You don’t have to fit a stereotype.” 

Unlabelled products are available from the brand directly, as well as in 450 Chemist Warehouse stores across the country, which in part answers the question of marketing. 

Unlabelled.

Unlabelled’s range of products. Source: supplied.

In fact, Chemist Warehouse has been closely involved in the development of the Unlabelled range, says McDonough, with the founders reaching out to their contacts at the retailer as soon as they had decided to launch the brand. 

They were great … they gave us a lot of direction about what their consumer needed, what would be appropriate in terms of quality and feel … they love the concept and brand behind it,” he adds. 

The founders’ drive to make a difference to youth mental health comes from both their own experience with bullying and depression, and their 18-year-old daughter Grace, who has given them insights into the challenges and desires of her generation. 

The BiMM Group plans to launch as many as 10 social enterprises, with each targeting a different FMCG category and addressing a different cause. The holding company will take on the supply, manufacturing and distribution logistics for each of the brands. 

While McDonough says it is still early days for the group — the business has five full-time employees and works with a number of contractors — work is already underway on the next two social enterprises, which will focus on giving back to the LGBTQI+ community and animal welfare.

The pair selected skincare as their first category because of their deep experience in the sector, having previously founded and grown men’s skincare brand Liquid Skincare (Lqd) into an international business between 2009 and 2018. 

“We wanted to create a social enterprise relatively quickly, so we decided to focus on something we know really well,” said McDonough. 

Once stocked in David Jones in Australia, and international retailers Sephora, Bloomingdales and Harrods, Lqd was ultimately closed following a fallout, and lengthy court case, with the business’ major investor. 

This time around, McDonough and Glebatsas, who have previously worked as a chemist and hedge fund manager respectively, say they have chosen to work with investors that believe in their same vision to make the world a better place for future generations, and they have been clear that investors in The BiMM Group should not be looking to draw money out of the company. 

The pair are also pursuing a different distribution strategy this time around, making sure to have a major retailer on board to launch the Unlabelled products with, and relying less on social media to get the word out. 

McDonough and Glebatsas agree fellow consumer-focused social enterprises like Thankyou Group and Who Gives A Crap have “led the way” in this space, however, they are hoping to provide a point of difference by ensuring their products are made locally and focusing on social issues closer to home. 

“We need to be going things locally, using as much local manufacturing as we can; we want to support the local economy,” said McDonough. 

“It’s why we’re working with charities that are focused on doing good in Australia; it’s really hard to quantify a goal to end world poverty,” he adds. 

Transparency is critical too, say the founders, which is why they have registered Unlabelled as a Health Promotion Charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, and will follow the same process for future brands too. This means the enterprises’ books will be “completely transparent and open”, they say. 

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