Today I’m delighted to be sharing a new Behind the Biz interview with you. This is my weekly series where I discover fantastic businesses, the people behind them and their business journey. Today’s interview is all about an exciting organic lifestyle brand based in the UK.
In today’s interview I’m chatting with Marie Lavabre and Sophie Lavabre-Barrow, the co-founders of KINN.
Please tell us about your business.
Sophie: KINN is a start-up organic lifestyle brand started by myself (Sophie) and my mother (Marie) which aims to provide you with easily accessible products such as Organic skincare and Plant Based home care products. We’ve always been very conscious of choosing organic, but the more it became a popular buzz word, it seems that the more the message of what truly is organic has become blurred, and that’s why we’ve gone the extra mile and got Soil Association Certified, so that you know our products really are what they say they are. The Plant Based home care products we feel complement an organic lifestyle but are often so expensive, so it seemed to us a no brainer that we should bring this out too.
Where did the inspiration for KINN come from?
Sophie: The KINN story really starts all the way back with our uncle who had an aromatherapy brand in Los Angeles, originally my Mum (Marie) wanted to take this brand and bring it to the UK when I was born, however as it was difficult to make products without certain ingredients (back in the early 90s) she decided to not pursue it at the time. Twenty something years later, once I’d started University, I would always go into Planet Organic or Whole Foods and end up hauling products back with me. It seemed silly to us that whilst we only lived on the outskirts of London it was hard to get hold of good quality and design led products. So KINN was born out of a need to have access to good quality organic products, and that is where we decided it was time to bring in products such as the plant based home care line, because when you’re going to the hassle of making sure what you eat and put on your skin is organic, it seemed odd to us that you’d still opt to clean your home with harsh chemicals. So with KINN what we’re trying to create is a brand you can turn to when you’re choosing to live a clean/organic lifestyle.
How did you decide upon the name of your business?
Marie: The name for our business really needed to incorporate the fact that it was a family business with years of family history behind. We didn’t want to wash over the fact that without the incredible aromatherapy knowhow of my uncle, we wouldn’t have such amazing skincare products. Our family has always been into an Organic lifestyle, from the organic supermarket another uncle runs in Provence, to the farms our family has, organic has always been a way of life for us. Our super talented cousin suggested KINN, and it was the perfect fit to incorporate the story we were trying to tell, which is one of family both old and new, biological or not. KINN is about family, however that looks to you.
Please tell us about Clean Beauty™.
Marie: Clean Beauty™ is about more than just beauty products, which is why we use it in conjunction with our home care range, we want all of our ranges to bring an element of beauty to your home and life. For us, Clean Beauty™ means a clean approach to living, trying to minimise ones impact on the environment, as well as making healthy and informed decisions to choose organic and plant based for your body and home. However, we don’t want to preach, we love a glass of champagne and a holiday in Ibiza as much as the next person! Clean Beauty™ is mostly about embracing balance.
What did you do before starting KINN?
Marie: Before KINN I worked, and still do, in property development. I have always had a keen interest in design and so getting to create bespoke homes from the ground up has been a huge amount of fun. It’s also one of the reasons I was so keen to create a line of attractive home care products, as I would often find when styling a new home for shoots or open days, when it came to the laundry room I would be severely limited on the choice of attractive home care products.
Sophie: Before KINN I was studying English Literature at University as well as Interior Design and blogging in my spare time (something I am keen to begin again). I managed to do some really awesome work experience with a pop up gallery in Mayfair and even got to work on George Northwood’s flagship salon! However whilst I’ve always grown up with property and interior design in my life due to my mum, I was keen to try something else and with a complete belief in organic and its benefits it seemed like now was the perfect time to co-create KINN.
Did you always plan to be self-employed?
Marie: Being quite headstrong I think I always knew I would run my own company. Whilst most of my friends would repaint a room or use new wallpaper, when I bought my first home I was removing walls and just completely redesigned it, through that I discovered that I had a good eye for design. Over the years this developed into running my own property development company, and it is something I really do enjoy, and I am now very fortunate to be building KINN with my daughter.
Sophie: Always! I think because I watched my mum build something of her own, and my dad was an IT Contractor I always looked up to my parents who were in essence the bosses of their own lives. Whilst there are some amazing careers out there I really didn’t want to spend my time making someone else’s dream come true when I had a few of my own! I recognise I’ve been very fortunate in being able to create my own company from such a young age.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?
Marie: Like in any business, challenges are going to crop up from time to time, but I’d say that one that was particularly frustrating was finding a bottle manufacturer. We really knew what we wanted and it took us quite a few months to find a company who could create what we wanted without having to run into super crazy minimum orders, the pool of companies made shorter by the fact we were determined to be UK made.
What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?
Marie: Meeting some really wonderful people. That’s the great thing about running your own company, you can choose who you work with so I only work with people I like. And also finally launching!
Sophie: For me, the highlight was meeting press for the first time and finally getting to talk with them about KINN and what we are hoping to create. But I was also so excited to finally be able to reveal to my followers on Instagram what I’d been working on, as some have been following me from when I had my blog all those years ago!
What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social platform?
Sophie: I’d say that social media plays a huge role, in that it’s a great way to get KINN out there in a way that we can showcase just all that it’s about. It really gives us the opportunity to position KINN as more than just a beauty brand, or more than just an eco-friendly brand, it gives us the ability to show it as what it is, a Lifestyle Brand. It also allows us to show exactly what KINN is about, in that we aren’t preachy, we love fun and giggles too, we just want to make choosing organic and eco-friendly that bit easier for you.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Sophie: Seek out mentors, they are some of your best cheerleaders and can really offer the most golden advice, and don’t listen to those people out there who will tell you you’re too young, or should maybe dream a little smaller or adjust expectations. If you think you’ve got a great idea and have done the research to back it up, then by all means, go for it!
Where do you hope to take your business in the year ahead?
Marie: We’re really hoping to expand our range with some lovely goodies, and also see ourselves stocked in a few stores. We launched online because we didn’t want the brand to be broken up straight away, as we feel it was important for people see KINN as a complete lifestyle offering, but now that we’ve launched and have orders underway and I feel like the information is there for people to understand KINN as a concept, we’d love to see it on shelves too!
I want to say a huge thank you to Sophie and Marie for taking the time to be involved with Behind the Biz. I really enjoyed finding out about their business journey, especially as their passion shines through so clearly. I can’t wait to see the business grow throughout the year ahead and would love to see their products make it onto the shelves of my favourite shops.
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