Manny Tsakanika is a professional dancer and actor who has worked in the entertainment industry for many years and knows how important it is to look and feel good. You will currently find him on stage in London in the show Magic Mike playing the lead role, Mike. Aremti has been named after Manny's sister, Raffy, who tragically lost her life. The brand's aim is to help men understand that self care is their right and that looking after your skin is not just for women. Men deal with the same stresses, weather, allergies and irritations, so it is surprising just how many men have no skincare routine, or simply use the wrong products. Nature provides us with bountiful sources of natural oils that are rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants for healthy looking skin. So it to nature that Aremti has turned to, seeking out fruits and other sources of oils to add to their products to nourish your skin and give it everything it needs.
In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Manny Tsakanika, Founder of Aremti about his career in the entertainment industry and the founding story of his premium men's skincare brand. Our host Peter Brooker and Manny talk about finding a gap in the market, vegan and natural ingredients, operating the business through the global pandemic, why they source and make everything from the UK, work/life balance, skin types, and inspirations behind the branding.
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Hello and welcome to another episode of the menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Brooker. Today, I am talking to Manny second Nika the founder of arm T skincare, spelt ar e m t i. And Manny is a professional dancer and actor and he's worked in the entertainment industry for many years. As a he knows how important it is to look and feel good. And you currently find him on stage in London in the show Magic Mike where he plays the lead role of Mike. But today we're going to focus on RT skincare. And he's going to explain all the benefits of the vegan products and what it takes to get our brand off the ground, etc. So my audio is a little bit on the quiet side, I'm still experienced some tech issues. Hopefully that'll be sorted out soon. Thanks for bearing with me. But Manny's audio comes through crystal clear. And here he is, in his own words, to describe RT skincare. So my name is Monique suck Annika, I'm a dancer, actor, performer, currently Magic Mike live, London. And RMT is a new men's premium skincare brand founded by myself, and I would best describe it as what I'd like to describe as hopefully the best premium skincare on the market, often coming. Nice, nice. Yeah, you want that tile, that's fine. You can brag a bit. We're working, we're working towards it, we'll get there. So well, how did you get to start with how did you get the brand off the ground, and maybe just the founding steps. So the brand for me is quite personal journey. It's a it's a it's been a long journey to get here. It's been a complicated, full of ups and downs. I founded the brand because of a personal tragedy of mine. I lost my sister, my youngest sister back in 2019. Suddenly, and she was a makeup artist and working also in the performing arts industry. On the other side, so I was obviously in front of a camera, she was sort of behind the camera. And we spoke about sort of, you know, creating a brand that for the people and kind of what what what is missing out on the market at the minute. And we looked and notice that the obviously the women's market is consumed with so many different brands and and, you know, you know, different avenues and all this kind of thing. But we looked at more focused at the men's market, and realised that there wasn't really sort of a brand out there that kind of was really true to like everything that they're putting out. And we wanted to make something so authentic with natural ingredients. And also like kind of give people an experienced, sorry, unexperienced whilst using other products. So that's how it was founded. So did you have any variance in skincare before embarking on this? No, I didn't. And it's been a it's been a new thing for me as well discovering, you know, it's actually really about self care. And actually, you know, taking my personal tragedy, and then looking at the mental side, and mental health side of things, and again, upon reflection using that as self care. So in dealing with my own sort of trauma, you kind of unfold things and discover that self care is super important in your day to day life and taking time out for yourself is is a really important factor, I think. So whereabouts are you from originally? So I was born in Greece. I grew up in Cambridge, and now I'm based in London. Oh, cool. Whereabouts in Cambridge? Yeah. Do you like Cambridge? Well, yeah, pretty much got in the rock. Yeah. Right in the centre of Cambridge. Right by the river. Right. Nice. Yeah, yeah. Did you do any of the boating tools any of the punting? I've done plenty of punting down a few times to check out Yeah, it's really nice. Those are nice if anyone wants to go down that road. So it's really nice, especially someone. Oh, I was about to say I mean that Cambridge is a city for the summer and it's so beautiful. When you do the punting on the river you go up and down and but the pubs are all kind of set out and catered to having their beer gardens by the river. Exactly. Yeah, they know what they're doing. And if you get a tour guide I mean, you can do it where you can just go out with your your missus or whatnot and make a romantic thing but I do recommend getting the tour guide because they give you all the stories of the bridges. And so you have the mathematical Bridge, which is a bridge that hasn't got any bolts or screws, it's just kind of wedged together and sits together in like harmony, you got the bridge that you can fight to the death on. Legally, you got to get a warrant by the Queen is the only place in the UK if you want to have a rock, then you can have that on that bridge. And, and that you're the bridge it like the the bridge of size. It's not called that but it's like one that they designed based on the Venice one. And so you've got like a little boutique on that as well. You know, there's tonnes of history. There's tonnes of history anyway. But let's get back to find the How did you get round to raising the capital for the for the brand? So that was a lot of it was? Well, actually all of it was self funded. Through hard work, I'd say. So like, so obviously, from through pursuing my career and making a career for myself, I see. You know, that's how I've managed to take my money and fund different projects that I strongly believe in. And yeah, take a different direction as well as the kind of the one I'm on as well. Right? And so, I mean, when you when you say if you sell funded it, did you have like a budget in mind? Or did it kind of spiralled out of control? I mean, how much are we talking about here to get something like this off the ground, um, I'll go into too much detail, I don't want to give exact figures, but I'd saved a good amount of money. It was a deal. To be honest, the main thing about it was just being smart, just kind of like, you know, choosing, making decisions and choosing, you know, what I wanted to do with my money and how I wanted to put it in something else, I always knew I wanted to put in something else. And create something, just something that so more people could experience. I can touch more people in different ways. I feel like I have a good connection in terms of my career and like, you know, changing like people's lives and like, you know, giving them an experience, I just wanted to elevate that in a different sort of direction as well. So I mean, talk about the products, what are the main selling points where people can be experiencing when they try this, it's to be honest, all about? Well, they're vegan, cruelty free, made in the UK 100% natural, it's basically it is what it says like, there's no sort of all the products are fragrances with essential oils, so they're no artificial fragrances. And I just think that, because our skincare is so the quality of the ingredients is so good. I think that you know, as a skin being the largest, largest organ on your body is super important. Whatever you put in, kind of seeps through to your body. And and kind of you know, it's just works hand in hand like that. So wherever you eat whatever you put on yourself, you know, whatever you consume, and how you live your life is sort of goes with that. So the vegan products, I mean, how, how come like all skincare brands aren't vegan? Is it? Is it a cost thing in terms of like getting a quality thing? I mean, I don't know, I feel I feel like they should be to be honest, I don't know why they're not. Especially in this day and age, you know, I feel like it's moving that current direction. I think maybe it's a cost thing in some some areas. I'm not sure, especially like, with the brands that are already quite established. I feel like they should be paving the way rather than kind of looking back and seeing what all the new brands are doing. Yeah, you know, I mean, and which is an interesting thing, but I felt like if they're not going to lead the way, then I feel like it's, you know, it's so our responsibility as new companies to to pave the way. Yeah. Well, it's, I guess, to make a parallel with the kind of in Europe, in the fashion world, you hear all these stories about the big monolith industries, you know, the Promax Azhar as and how hard it is for them to implement sustainability practices when it would have to start from kind of the ground upwards when you when you have like, the bigger the ship, the harder it is to turn around. Right. When you end and boat then you can kind of you can be the master your own journey, as it were. I totally agree. I totally agree. I understand that it's probably harder for them because they are more established. But I think that for us as a brand, we we wanted to start off on the right foot and then continue that way. We didn't want to get to the point where we were, you know, like some of the other brands and have to start changing things. We wanted to just be authentic from the get go Yeah. So how big is the brand now as in terms of personnel working? I'd imagine how big a brand is, in terms of like in employment, I mean, it just you kind of. Okay, so at the minute, it's a small team, I outsource a lot of I outsource, sorry, a lot of roles and jobs that need to get done. But it's growing, and it does grow sort of every week, every month. And we've already been running since the end of November 2021. So we're super new. And what was it like, trying to get this, this project off the ground, when the world is on fire around you? Absolute carnage, I don't even know kind of looking back, I don't even know how I navigated half of it. It was tough, I can't lie, it was very tough. It was a lot obviously happening during the pandemic. And I mean, to be honest, it was an obscene time to try and start a new business and a new skincare brand. But looking back, you know, I felt like I use my time as white as long as I could. And and here we are now having a conversation about it. Yeah, most people I've spoke to where they've started a brand during the last couple of years, it's more the more Brexit than it is the pandemic about how you'd have to, like, for example, if people are importing parts from different parts of Europe, you know, having to deal with all the bureaucracy and the red tape of getting stuff for various taxes and whatnot, did you have to experience any of that with the ingredients? No, to be honest, everything is sourced. Everything's like it's, it's UK based. It's, it's there's nothing going in and out like that. So that's why for us, it was we're very much on home soil here. And we're making it all from here. That's really cool. I bet that's, um, was that a conscious choice? In the beginning? Was it because it's easier to do post Brexit? No, no, no, that was a conscious choice. In the beginning. I felt like if I want people in the UK to use it, I felt like it should be from here, you know, and then from there grow out to everyone else. So that's kind of how I saw it. That's it. How do you kind of balance the work life relationship with this? I mean, you mentioned maybe it was me that mentioned you you're also in the on the stage right now doing Magic Mike and, and all that sort of stuff. So how much time do you get to allocate to this project? I, I'm just one person, I've only got three hours in the day like everyone else. But like, my 24 hours are quite full. So I just, I just have to just balance whenever I can. So usually my days up until I work are delegated to RMT. And pushing that and you know, creating the brand and making decisions and figuring out what's next. And then my evenings are consumed by work and magic my performing and yeah, it's it's tough, say late nights, early mornings. And I don't know you just you just make it work. What time do you have to leave the house to go to stage? So I don't have to leave here until about maybe like half four or five. Right? So there's no afternoon matinee. Is it just one evening show? No, we have so we do 10 performances a week. One on Wednesday, and then to Thursday to Friday, three on Saturday, three on Saturday. Three on Saturday. Yeah. I got her. I know. It's intense, isn't it? Well, I mean, it's not like you're they're reading Shakespeare either, right? I mean, forgive me. I'm being dramatic. But I have seen the film. I imagine there's quite a bit of dance in the moving going around. So it's very athletic. There is a lot of work. It's very intense. It's very hard. Yeah, it's tiring. I don't know what to say. I mean, it is. And, and so you do you play Mike in the show? Is that right? Yes. I play my Yeah, I'm playing like in the show. Yeah. Okay. And so you all eyeballs are on you really? For? Sure. I'd say we're collectors and we're all. We're all. I think we're all mics. Right. It's a massive show. I mean, even today as I was on the tube, round London and just the posters everywhere for it. I do like the the tagline by the way, don't come for the costumes. I think this is good. I mean, they're not wrong. You know, but the costumes are great. And it's it amused Because I don't think the film was a musical it now I wouldn't, I think is I wouldn't say as a musical as such. I think it's a it is a little box. That's how I best describe it. I best describe it as something for everyone. So we have this people don't say of course there are aerialist, there are people singing, there is you know, I love a balance of creativity and performing skills. And did you ever have anyone from the film turn up to any of the shows? Have you had any of the stars come down? Like Matthew McConaughey. I think Channing Tatum. And we haven't had Matthew McConaughey come down. But if he listens to this by any chance, come down. We'd love to have we'd love to have Right, right. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. No, we had John come down quite recently, actually. Shows show the guys in London some love is good. Yeah. So he's good talking down? Well, I'd imagine if you haven't if you Channing Tatum and you ever need an ego boost or just like have your ego massaged in any way? Turning up to one of the shows that you know has really propelled your career like no other. You're not going to be not noticed in the audience. Yeah, of course. He likes to get involved as well, like, you know, come up on stage and like, you know, he was again one of the guys. That's that's really cool. I mean, did did he do a cameo or anything? Did he do anything impromptu? Yeah, he introduced the show. He he got with he was he introduced show to the audience, he came out and said, Hello, what's up enjoy the show? And kind of just gave me like a boost. That's really cool. I've been saved, you're doing like 10 Shows a week? Do you even have to work out? Or is this the workout for you? Do you know I mean, is this your your cardio? Do you have to do any extra like weights or anything like that? I, I guess you could say the show kind of keeps me in shape. Right. I do go to the gym every now and then I try to go as much as I can. But to be honest, this show kind of keeps me in shape. I just eat well try to get as much rest as I can. And just because my body's best, like I really. And I guess the crazy thing for you would be to actually have the sleep in kind of work the sleep and to have a routine around that, right? Because you can't be coming over. And even if you are coming home at a reasonable hour, you'll still be wired from the show, right? So your brains kind of still in Show mode. And it can't You can't just come home and go straight to bed because I know from working in a bar in a very, very, very busy bar. You've worked till like two or three in the morning, you come home and then that would be it, your mind would just be constantly buzzing. So I guess that's one of the main hindrances for you. Yeah, is it is tough to unwind, especially in the evening, but I try and channel that into something positive or like, you know, maybe life as some bits I need to get done before the next day starts or maybe just like maybe just watch a bit of TV before bed and just sort of unwind. But yeah, you're right. It's super, your mind just goes kind of crazy. And just sort of like you know after night like Well, well, I haven't been down to see the magic night show but I will certainly get down to see it as I'm sure night out with the missus I'm sure she would enjoy it. Well, listen, what's next for it? I mean, swiftly changing gears if you got any plans to bring out any new product ranges. Have you got any expansions in mind? What's next? Yeah. loads, loads of ers. Big visions for RMT big aspirations, some new products coming out. Some really good cool partnerships coming up as well and just like just kind of elevating it continuously and getting out there to everyone else who hasn't heard a buy and getting them to try and see what I think I was gonna ask about the moisturiser as well because I'm in I'm about to go buy a batch of moisturiser should moisturiser. Well maybe tell me about your moisturiser. First, we'll see the key elements. So we have three moisturisers, no more dry and oily. And each one is kind of suited within the ingredients for your skin. So the ingredients are specifically kind of dedicated for that specific skin type. So we've really kind of honed in on that's why I emphasise how important the ingredients are cuz they really kind of like, helped to like elevate your skin complexion and, you know, brighten up your skin. Because I like the sound of some of the stuff going on in, in the soap bars, especially like the green tea, poppy seeds. So like these are all kind of they sound quite exotic to me. And I think those those are sort of ingredients that I gravitate towards. Yeah, it's all I felt like it's all relatable ingredients as well. Like les said, like the green tea, like you've had a green tea, it's like detoxing kind of a drink that other people would have. So then we, you know, we brought along the detoxing kind of soap. So you kind of get the same sort of element, you're just rubbing it on your skin instead of drinking, if that makes sense. Yeah, no. Sounds like something that I put in a smoothie. Yeah. Maybe I wouldn't suggest maybe. I mean, you could but do you have a hand in any of the branding at all? Or is is a its own separate? Well? Actually, no, no, I did. I did, I designed the branding. And the reason that it's so minimal is because we the brand is not supposed to be this thing that you know, sparkly and all the Jazz at the front, like it very, it just is what it is, you know, it's a very clean, well put together product that you know, it doesn't need all the jazz and fancy stuff around it because the ingredients are the things that are really important about and that's in the bottle and in the jars and in the boxes. Yeah, it looks pretty cool. And I encourage people to check it out. And in the meantime, thanks again many great talking to you. Best of luck with the project you so much and continued success. Thank you so much. Thank you for having me you've been listening to the menswear style podcast be sure to head over to menswear style dot code at uk for more menswear content and email info at menswear style dot code at UK if you'd like to be a future guest on the show. Finally, please help support the show by leaving a review on iTunes or wherever you're listening to this podcast. Until next time