Venture-Backed Brand Kinfield Launches With Personal Care Products Designed To Elevate Outdoor Excursions
Unisex personal care brand Kinfield is launching with a trio of targeted products designed to solve the problems that can make time in nature—from a grueling hike to a low-key picnic in the park—a drag.
Nichole Powell, founder and CEO of Kinfield, believes the brand fills a gap in the market for elevated clean, sustainable and cruelty-free products designed for all manner of outdoor occasions. “I was packing for a weekend camping trip with friends, [and] I realized that many of the outdoor products in my bag were the exact same brands that I had grown up with,” says Brooklyn, N.Y., resident who grew up in Minnesota spending her childhood playing in the woods and camping at Lake Superior. “I wasn’t continuing to use those products because I loved them, but rather because there wasn’t any better option.”
Priced from $18 to $22, Kinfield’s inaugural collection includes Waterbalm, a wax- and petroleum-free solid moisturization stick for face and body; Sunday Spray, a cooling after-sun mist made with aloe, cucumber, eucalyptus, prickly pear and white camphor; and Golden Hour, a DEET-free mosquito repellent, which Powell sees as probable bestseller. She says, “Golden Hour is able to solve a very specific and acute pain point in a way that hasn’t been done before, and it tends to get a lot of customer love for that reason.” The brand has a handful of additional outdoor products in the pipeline.
While Waterbalm and Sunday Spray took around six to seven months each to develop, Powell estimates it took 14 months from concept to production order to bring Golden Hour to fruition. The insect repellent features a proprietary blend of botanical ingredients like citronella, clove and lemongrass oil. The paraben- and synthetic fragrance-free spray has been shown to provide three hours of pest protection in an independent third-party lab test.
Prior to creating Kinfield, Powell became familiar with startup life as the first full-time employee at online fashion retailer Modern Citizen, where she was head of business development, orchestrating key partnerships and leading growth strategy. In the summer of 2017, the inspiration for Kinfield struck while Powell was preparing for a camping trip to Yosemite. She left Modern Citizen in early 2018 to channel her energy into Kinfield.
Powell started raising capital for Kinfield at the end of September, wrapping up a pre-seed round of an undisclosed amount in December. Participants in the round include a mix of angel investors, friends and family backers, and two institutional funds, Precursor Ventures and Congruent Ventures. Powell says Kinfield is sustainability-focused Congruent Ventures’ only consumer-oriented investment so far. Kinfield joins nail salon Lacquerbar, textured hair community Project Curl and pet wellness company Fuzzy in Precursor Ventures’ portfolio.
“It was honestly very challenging,” she says. “I was fundraising as a first-time, solo female founder for a consumer company that hadn’t launched yet, a combination of challenges that multiple people told me was crazy to try to take on. But I believed so deeply in what Kinfield could be and, thankfully, eventually met our incredible investors who have been supportive of what we’re doing, and also allowed us the space to grow and build the way that we want to.”
“It was honestly very challenging. I was fundraising as a first-time, solo female founder for a consumer company that hadn’t launched yet, a combination of challenges that multiple people told me was crazy to try to take on. But I believed so deeply in what Kinfield could be and, thankfully, eventually met our incredible investors.”
Kinfield is relying on the direct-to-consumer channel initially to understand its customers’ needs and bring their insights into the product development process. “We have an open call for product requests on our website because that’s how Kinfield started in the first place, identifying a product that I needed and realizing that no one was making it,” says Powell. “Some of the best ideas that we’re working on now are things that came from casual conversations with friends.” To compete with the convenience and instant gratification of physical retail, Kinfield is piloting same-day delivery via bike courier in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Powell sees retail partnerships as part of her brand’s long-term plans. Specifically, she’s most excited by non-traditional retail models. Powell says, “Concept shops like Showfields and short-term brand pop-ups are the kind of opportunities that afford us more room to play as a brand, and are a fun moment to share with our community, too.”
Given the on-the-go lifestyle of Kinfield’s target consumers and the brand’s fit in the active niche, Powell points to retail opportunities in destination areas as of keen interest. She says, “Some of our products are driven by a very specific moment of need. So, as a team, we are constantly thinking about how we can meet our customer where they are before they even realize that they need it.”