The Breakouts are presented in partnership with Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
The beauty market is booming, and the tech scene is always innovating. But the beauty-tech scene is almost non-existent. For Kaylee Astle, co-founder and CEO of Vancouver-based Blanka, that gap presented an opportunity.
After a career in consulting and a short-lived attempt to start her own sunscreen line, she realized that there was a need for infrastructure that supports independent beauty businesses.
“Independent brands have captured more than 25 per cent of the beauty industry, but they haven’t historically been supported by anything,” she says. “We wanted to build technology to solve a lot of the problems I experienced.”
Astle launched Blanka in 2021, offering a streamlined way to brand a wide range of different products, with easy integration into different ecommerce platforms like Shopify. Blanka handles all the logistics of production, packaging, and shipping, letting aspiring entrepreneurs—be they influencers, existing brands looking to get into makeup, or completely new ventures launching from the ground up—focus on the business side of launching their lines.
All products offered through Blanka are cruelty-free; all except a few beeswax-containing lip balms are vegan; and all are approved for sale throughout the US and Canada. A new service, Blanka Labs, also offers custom formulations for clients wanting to choose every step of their ingredients.
“Let’s educate our users on every single ingredient that’s available,” Astle says, “and let them make their own decisions.”
Although it’s still less than three years old, Blanka has already made big waves in BC’s business scene. Last year was a banner one, with the company winning
BC Tech’s Startup award at the Technology Impact Awards, scooping third in Innovate BC’s New Ventures BC competition, and raising $2 million in seed funding.
Looking forward, Astle says 2024 is going to be all about growth.
“I would love to triple this year,” she says nonchalantly.
But even as Blanka grows, she wants to keep it right here where it started.
“It’s really important that we continue to build in Vancouver, and build up the ecosystem here, and hire here,” Astle asserts. “It’s such a great, great city to start a company, and one that I think is growing from a tech and from a beauty professional perspective.”