Chris Glebatsas and Anthony McDonough are partners in life and business, and they know what hard work can do. The discipline of their time spent in the gym is evident in their physiques. In business, their men’s skin care range, Lqd is also flexing some muscle thanks to the boys’ industriousness.
Behind their success, though, is the story of two regular guys. They’re dads, dog-owners and wine drinkers. With Lqd about to take a huge global step forward, they tell DNA why politics, parenting and an Aussie wedding are still important to them.
DNA: The last time you were featured in DNA #163, you’d just launched the Lqd skin care range and started getting great feedback. What’s happened since?
Anthony: It’s really been quite an amazing journey since then. When we spoke last, we we’d just launched and were only selling Lqd online. Fast-forward three years and we now have pride of place in Sephora, the world’s largest cosmetic retailer, and have become their leading men’s skin care brand in their Australian stores. We’re also just about to head over to the USA to launch Lqd in Bloomingdales during September, and we have some more exciting news to announce in October, which unfortunately we can’t talk about just yet.
Is it true that Lqd sales are out-stripping some of the big international brands in some retail outlets?
Chris: Yes, Lqd is now the largest selling men’s skin care brand in Sephora, outselling Lab Series, Clarins and Clinique, so we are pretty chuffed at that. To think we can take on the big international brands and beat them is something that drives us to keep going and expanding our brand. We’ve no doubt DNA readers are partly responsible for our success. The community has been incredibly supportive of us and our products.
The two of you are, very physically, your own brand ambassadors. Was that a conscious part of your marketing strategy or did it grow out of your interest in building your physiques?
Anthony: Coming from a marketing background, I was sick and tired of seeing brand ambassadors who had nothing to do with the products they promoted, and in skin care, it’s usually full of 20-year-old models. However, we wanted the authenticity of our brand to shine through, not only in our products, but in how we market them. So what better way than to use real people – and, in fact, the guys who own the brand. It’s also a great excuse to keep in shape, which is something we love to do.
Chris: Well, actually, it’s something Anthony loves. Personally, I’d prefer to hire models and spend my nights with a big glass of wine! It must be my Greek genes but, having said that, I’ve never looked this good before so the pressure of being the face of the brand has an upside as well.
Being so public, do you ever feel vulnerable?
Chris: It’s a bit like being a D-grade celebrity… [Laughs], everyone knows us through social media and has an opinion on us one way or the other. They either love us or hate us, but we’ve learnt to not let it worry us any more. Our inner circle is very small and very tight.
Anthony: Yeah, in the early days, it was much more difficult but we made a conscious decision to put ourselves out there, to hopefully help other guys see that you can be gay and have a business, a family and a strong committed relationship. And, I guess, to coin a phrase, we’ve developed much thicker skin.
But the good feedback must be great?
Anthony: Absolutely. In fact, we get much more positives these days than we do negatives. We have guys come up to us all the time and introduce themselves and tell us their story about how we’ve inspired them to make a change in their life. It might be around getting fitter, committing to a new relationship or even starting up their own business. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, a young guy came up to us at gym and explained how we’d inspired him and his partner to start up their own company and it had worked out incredibly well. It made us feel very proud to know we’d helped in some way for them to take their leap of faith.
Are you versatile business-wise, or do you have distinct roles?
Chris: Ha! Well, I’m pretty sure it’s always better to be versatile, but when it comes to business we split the roles quite clearly. Anthony does all the work and I take all the credit… but seriously though, he’s the creative one who can turn words into magic. So Anthony looks after the brand, marketing and products – he’s so passionate about making every product perfect. I’m the organised one who’s good with numbers so I manage the finances and logistics. If there is a dollar to be made or saved, it’s always best to talk to me.
You’re kings of social media marketing; where is the next trend in social going to be? We keep hearing that Facebook and Twitter are in decline – do you agree?
Anthony: For us, Facebook is still where most of our audience are spending their digital interaction time. For our daughter Grace though, who’s 13, it’s all about SnapChat and YouTube, so these are definitely a couple of the key channels for the future. It’s a bit like people have been calling the death of TV and magazines for years, yet they still deliver the majority of advertising globally. As one digital channel loses another gains, but it’s more about just keeping in touch with your customer in whatever channel they are tuned in to – be it Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat or the next big thing around the corner like Wanelo.
You travel around the world a lot these days –to countries that have marriage equality laws – any chance you’ll come home hitched one of these days?
Chris: We’ve talked about this a lot. We are already engaged and we’d love to be married to each other, having been together now for seven years, but we’ve decided to wait until we can legally do it in Australia. We want our family and friends to get to enjoy it with us and celebrate the fact we can do it legally.
Before the Australian Federal Election you, Anthony, posted a very political statement on Facebook. Was that unusual for you? Why did you feel so strongly?
Anthony: We generally keep our comments and opinions very light-hearted and fun on social media but at the same time, if there’s something that needs to be said that effects our community, I think it’s really important to stand up and use our influence to try to right a wrong. I was, and remain, 100 percent opposed to holding a plebiscite on marriage equality. Not for the reason’s everyone else may think, but because of Grace who lives 50/50 between her mum’s home and our home. We aren’t your usual family unit, but I don’t want Grace to be subjected to the level of hate speech that will be thrown around by the religious bigots during the lead-up to a public vote on equality. Why should she have to listen to people telling her