This weeks Q & A is with Ryan and Oscar the owners of one of our favourite local products, Bare Blends. We love their Cinnamon and Cacao plant protein blend! You can check out their products here: http://bareblends.com.au/
KP – Tell us a little about yourself, where you were born, grew up etc.
Oscar – I was born and raised on Sydney’s North Shore, am the youngest of four siblings, dad is a radiologist and my mum a horticulturalist. My eldest brother Toby, is a solicitor turned entrepreneur, eldest sister Lucy, an architect, and youngest sister Celia, a teacher.
From the age of about 10 I always wanted to be an Architect. I loved the freedom to be able to create a structure in the exact way that you imaged it. At school, I loved all things science, math, history, and design. After school I worked a little bit then travelled around Europe.
I then started a Graphic / CS degree when I got back, and at the same time I started that degree, Ryan and I founded Bare Blends. After 2 years of doing both Bare Blends and Uni, I dropped out of Uni, as I realised that I could teach myself most of the things that Uni was teaching me, and focus all my time on Bare Blends.
I now live on Sydney’s Northern beaches with my Fiance and work remotely, and commute to Byron once a month.
Ryan – Like Oscar, I grew up on Sydney’s North Shore, spending most of my time surfing, playing sports, and learning about and playing with computers. We attended the same high school, where I rowed and played rugby. My family would spend most of our summer holidays driving up to Byron, where I would spend hours a day surfing at Wategos and Tallows.
From an early age I was fascinated by the business world, especially the increasing impact technology was having on both global and domestic markets. This led to me choosing to study economics and business studies at school, going on to start a degree in Economics at Sydney University whilst tutoring high school students in Maths.
I have always been a DIY-fan, from doing the woodworking and soldering to build my own speakers and subwoofers, to assembling computers and growing my own vegetables. After I started to have stomach issues after exercise, I narrowed it down to the array of bodybuilding style supplements I was taking. I took the DIY approach to my nutrition, and started experimenting to discover what would work for my body. This resulted in the first blends that we now share with our awesome customers around the world.
Seeking a change from the bustle of city life, and having always felt an affinity for Byron Bay, we made the decision to move, business and all, in 2014, and I haven’t looked back. I love that I have the freedom to spend my afternoons in nature after programming on a computer all day. I grow my own fruit and veg, and have 9 friendly chooks at home to provide me with eggs, things which did not seem feasible in the Sydney housing market.
KP – Claim to fame/day job/hobby/what are you known for?
Oscar –Ryan and I founded Bare Blends when we were 22, we have not had a whole lot of time to do anything else since then!
KP – Is it your passion or just something you do?
Oscar –My passion is all things, design, science, health and technology. With Bare Blends we are able to design products that we want to use everyday, that are built on scientific research, and that also please the tastebuds. So Bare Blends satisfies my passion for health research, but I fill my other time with technology and science projects. I am really just addicted to learning something new everyday.
Ryan – Having initially created the products for our personal use, with the business side coming later, I can definitely say it has always been a passion! Even better, I get to come up with creative ways to use technology to better serve our customers.
KP – What is your greatest achievement?
Oscar – It would definitely have to be Bare Blends. When Ryan and I founded Bare Blends, we didn’t really know anything about running a business, we were just two ambitious 22 year-olds and decided to throw ourselves into it head on, not knowing what would happen. There have been big ups and downs, but you learn things running a business that cannot be taught at any university.
KP – How do you give back to our community?
Oscar –I think one of the biggest issues facing every city, barring climate change, is just basic rubbish disposal and single use plastic. By simply not using plastic bags, coffee cups, and other single use plastic, every person can have a direct impact on the environment, with really very little effort on their behalf. I try to get to beach clean ups when I can, which I think, if everybody were made to do once, they definitely would not litter or use single-use plastics ever again. Humans, unfortunately struggle to take action unless they see it first hand.
Ryan- From a business perspective, we minimise waste and packaging where possible, doing away with the large plastic containers you will frequently see nutrition products packaged in, and using Kraft paper pouches instead. In our smoothie bar in the Industrial Estate, we support a variety of local banana farmers, nut-butter makers and other fruit growers.
KP – What are your earliest memories of food?
Ryan – Most of my earliest memories seem to be of food! Growing up, my father worked in the wine industry, which seemed to mean long boozy lunch-turned-dinners, but really the food was the star. We would prepare delicious stews, dhaals, stuffed calamaris and much more all day, of course all with liberal amounts of garlic and chilli thrown in.
KP – How do you develop and source your products?
Ryan- From the beginning, ingredient sourcing has been a strong focus for Oscar and I, and now for the rest of the team at Bare Blends. After testing as many suppliers of an ingredient we can, we try to balance sourcing the highest quality ethical ingredients from around the world with supporting Australian products wherever possible. We use an amazing freeze-dried finger lime powder sourced in the Northern Rivers, a wildcrafted Kakadu Plum (the highest natural source of vitamin C) powder from the Kimberleys and vanilla beans from either Madagascar or Tahiti. We are strong believers in the necessity of organic farming, from both an environmental and health perspective.
KP – What is your favourite travel destination/why?
Oscar –I would have to say central Italy. I am a sucker for the simplicity of italian food. Anywhere I can eat fresh buffalo mozzarella daily, you will find me.
Ryan – New Zealand – I may be showing my roots as Mum hails from Matamata (now known as Hobbiton from Lord of the Rings), but to me it’s the perfect balance of rugged, natural environments, amazing ingredients and food, and down-to-earth people.
KP – If you could choose what to come back as what/who would it be?
Oscar – If a historical time, it would have to be ancient Greece as a student in Plato’s academy. If an animal, probably some kind of big cat.
KP – Which words phrases do you overuse?
Oscar – ‘Nuts’
Ryan – ‘Awesome’
KP – Which living person do you most admire/why?
Oscar – I get greatly inspired by people who take risks, and especially people who takes risks in order to break the status quo. So I would have to say I admire Elon Musk the most. After making 120 million off PayPal, he went on to break the satellite launch monopoly with SpaceX, force the big auto manufacturers to up their electric car game with Tesla, and start a solar panel company. If that doesn’t inspire you, I am not sure anything can.
KP – If money was no object what would you do?
Ryan- I would meld my passions of organics and technology, and attempt to build a highly productive and automated biological farming system that would hopefully bring down the barriers to entry in modern day agriculture.
Oscar – I would break my week into three days of study and three days of work, and one day of leisure. I would continually upskill myself and learn, whilst working on projects that can benefit the most people.
KP – What’s in store over the next year at Bare Blends?
Oscar – Our goal from the day one was to educate as many people as possible about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Over the next year we will be trying to achieve that goal by expanding into the UK, USA and Asia through purely digital channels. On top of this we have some new innovative blends coming to market.