Anas in Essaouira on a recent trip to Morocco.
Our co-founder Anas is the next victim of our very own version of the Proust questionnaire. While we learned that Munemi enjoys adventurous and somewhat exhausting travel, Anas’s most fearless journey to date was probably moving to the US from his hometown of Meknes, Morocco when he was just 17 and barely spoke the language. Though he’s lived in New York since 2007, it’s no surprise that he and Munemi, both avid travelers, met on a plane, a chance encounter that led to the launch of the MUN brand.
Learn more about Anas below!
Why/when did you move to NYC?
I moved here in the summer of 2007 to pursue a master's degree at Columbia University.
Fun fact about you:
I moved to the US when I was 17, just after graduating from High School. I was looking for my first real adventure in life. My best friend was in for the ride so we booked one way tickets to LA, enrolled at an English language school (since we barely spoke the language) and arrived with heads full of dreams. We chose LA for the weather since that was the closest we could find to our native Morocco and we were scared of the cold. What we didn't know was how big and terrifying parts of LA could be.
What's it like to start your own company?
It often makes you feel like Sisyphus, trying to push a huge boulder up a hill only to watch it fall back down as you near the top. The early stages are particularly challenging, but also the most rewarding.
What has been the hardest part of starting MUN?
Learning how to compromise from day 1 - almost every decision involves some degree of compromise in addition to trade offs. Learning how to optimize that process is one of the many keys to launching a successful business.
What has been the most satisfying part of starting MUN?
Hearing from our customers that they love MUN's products. The end goal of all that we do is to make highly effective skin care products that deliver on what we promise so when our customers recognize that, we get the utmost satisfaction.
What's it like working with Munemi?
I have never met anyone who is as much of a perfectionist as Munemi is. She is extremely meticulous and that is reflected in how carefully formulated our products are.
What are you looking forward to in the next couple of years?
I am looking forward to building on the strong foundation that we've set up over the past 3 years. We have been very careful and diligent with how fast we grow since we launched No.1 Aknari in May 2012, but we are finally ready to expand. For example: it took 1 ½ years and going through 8 different producers to find the perfect source for the prickly pear seed oil that is the key ingredient in No.1 Aknari. That producer was a very small women's cooperative in the very south of Morocco and had significant limitations on the volume they could produce. But, instead of changing suppliers and compromising on the quality, we've slowly worked with them to help grow their operations and created over 20 new jobs for them in less than two years. The end result is that we still get the same tremendous quality in higher volumes, allowing us to produce more and meet the demand of our growing customer base.
What are you listening to / reading / watching right now?
Listening a lot to "In Colour", the new Jamie XX album. I've also discovered some great podcasts this past year, "Startup" by Alex Blumberg is one of them. For reading, my goal is to catch up on all of the New Yorker mags I've fallen behind on. I don't watch much TV, but if I do it's most likely a soccer game.
What is at the top of your travel list right now?
Japan. I've always wanted to go, even more so since I've met Munemi. Plus she has already been to my homeland twice and I need to catch up to her. A close second is Argentina.
How many times do you hit snooze in the AM?
Never. I always get up at the first sound of the alarm.
How do you take your coffee?
With milk, no sugar.
Cats or dogs?