This week, we sit down with Mathilde Blanc, co-founder of award winning, eco-friendly dry cleaners, BLANC. As we continue to learn new and better ways of making our everyday habits more sustainable, we discovered that understanding a better dry-cleaning service is one way we can change our habits for good. Since lending our clothes is so closely linked to dry-cleaning, working closely with BLANC is a no-brainer. Keep scrolling to read our chat and get to know the company. And a HURR Collective member, you’ll receive 20% off your first dry cleaning order!
HURR: What’s the main reason you started BLANC?
Mathilde Blanc: There are two reasons why Ludovic and I started BLANC. He realised, after a lot of research, that there was a huge problem with toxicity in the traditional dry cleaning industry. To clean clothes, traditional dry cleaners are soaking them in a solvent cleaner called PERC which is very toxic.
Secondly, I felt there was a huge gap in customer experience compared to other industries. Dry cleaners are often dark, cramped and rather smelly places! Most are not very concerned about your feelings when things don’t go as planned or about how to work around your timetable – and because we’re all so busy, going to your dry cleaners becomes not the most pleasant of chores. So we’ve been building BLANC on the premise that we really needed to change both.
How do you manage the startup world with family life?
I lived in a constant state of guilt (I still do!) that I wasn’t there enough for my children and wasn’t doing enough for my business. I am incredibly lucky that I am in this with my husband, who has the same work ethic as I do and the same family values – we understand what the other needs to do at different points in time, whether it is for our business or for our family, and he is an incredibly committed father, so we make it work for now, I think.
But no one had told me how hard this would be. Nothing I’d done had prepared me for quite how hard motherhood and a young business would be together.
As the Chief Experience Officer, what does your day-to-day look like?
My job is to make sure that there is a consistent and seamless experience between the physical and the digital so customers don’t have to work hard at understanding what we do and what services we offer, or at making choices – the right service for them should be super easy to find.
Marketing and content obviously play a big part. We feel that we sit on a lot of knowledge that is relevant for people to know and we want everyone to know about the terrifying toxicity in dry cleaning – but also other areas of people’s lives, because living healthily and sustainably doesn’t stop at doing better laundry! We want to help everyone to reduce toxicity in their lives, wherever it may come from – quite obviously starting with: making the switch to wet cleaning.
How did you know there was a market for “clean” dry cleaning?
Very few people questioned the dry cleaning industry, simply because few people actually know how harmful dry cleaning is to their health, their clothes and the environment.
Change has to come from new entrants. So Ludovic and I decided to spearhead this revolution, and try our hardest to bring this industry forward by making the eco-friendly alternative a credible one. They all told us we were crazy…
Can you tell us more about the chemicals used by dry cleaning companies, and how BLANC differs?
The irony is that, despite its name, dry cleaning is neither dry nor clean – it’s actually a very dirty business.
Unless people have sensitive skin, they don’t quite realise how harmful the dry cleaning process is. The most common solvent used by traditional dry cleaners is ‘PERC’ (perchloroethylene), which is derived from petroleum. Scientists have known for decades that PERC is dangerous and very toxic: it’s a well-known environmental and health hazard and is even listed as a probable human carcinogen.
BLANC uses the Woolmark-approved ‘wet clean’ technology. Our specialists hand-treat fabrics with expert use of more natural pre-spotting products and then clean garments with water and biodegradable detergents in our specialist machines. Essentially, wet cleaning combines artisan care with expert tech, and provides a much higher quality outcome. The process leaves garments softer, brighter and fresher.
Tell us more about your amazing “concept stores” across London!
We wanted to do things differently and provide a customer experience that truly reflects who we are: a natural garment care specialist, with profound attention to nature, quality and convenience in everything we do.
Our stores are located in Marylebone, Notting Hill, Chelsea and White City (plus we’re opening in South Kensington in September!). They sell a range of laundry essentials from carefully selected ethical brands to help you make your clothes last longer at home too.
How have your views on sustainability and “green” cleaning impacted your views on the fashion industry?
BLANC not only offers eco-friendly cleaning services, but also repairs and alterations. We try our best to encourage individuals and fashion companies to consider fixing clothes – rather than throwing them away – when they need a simple mend.
Vivienne Westwood said it best: “Buy less, choose well, make it last”. It’s a motto I live by everyday: I buy consciously, or second hand; I swap clothes with family or close friends; and I never ever throw anything away anymore.
How do you adopt sustainability into your everyday life?
For me, nothing is black and white, and in order to adopt a sustainable lifestyle, it’s primarily the small steps that count.
I started my sustainable journey in a very practical manner and did things that were convenient for me. What’s a no-brainer is switching over to buying more eco-friendly household products. I ban plastic as much as possible and always carry some reusable essentials with me such as a water bottle, a bamboo coffee cup and an extra tote bag.
I also simply try to consume less. It’s often a matter of questioning: have I used this item to the end of its lifetime? Can I take the extra 5 minutes to fix it or just buy a new battery? And if I’m really bored with it, what can I do to prevent it from going straight to a landfill? As a mother, it’s also about teaching my children to have the right behaviours and to respect nature and our planet. They are the ones who are going to make things change, and who will inherit this world which we sort of broke.
What are your views on fashion rental?
Fashion rental is one of the really exciting revolutions happening in the fashion industry right now. I firmly believe it is going to help us close the loop, and change our consumption behaviours. Because it is still considered a little bit of a fashion faux-pas to be seen in the same outfit twice at big events, because we do love newness and creativity and because fashion is such a nice way to express your identity that we do not want to be denying ourselves, rental platforms have really cracked the conundrum of satisfying our desire for newness while not adding to the huge fashion problem by doing so.
Clothes are constantly being reused, and so each item lives longer than the now infamous “30 wears” – that is really positive. I have quite a minimalist wardrobe myself but even I sometimes get tired of wearing the same things in so many different ways – or have to attend events that I would have bought a dress for before that I would only wear once or twice. With rental platforms like HURR, you can look stylish, not wear the same outfit twice and contribute to not making fashion a bigger problem than it currently is.
What one piece of advice would you give to HURR members about their dry cleaning choices?
For the sake of your health, your clothes and the planet: make the switch to wet cleaning!
You can find out more about BLANC at https://blancliving.co/.