Two beauty industry veterans think they’ve cracked the code on skin care for the “Euphoria” generation.
Alison Haljun, a former marketing exec for Benefit Cosmetics and her cofounder Christin Powell, a product developer who has formulated for Stella & Dot’s Ever and Perricone MD and was a cofounder of Juice Beauty, are launching Kinship, a skin-care line designed to appeal to Gen Z, on Nov. 13 on lovekinship.com.
Earlier this year, the brand raised a $2.8 million series seed round led by venture funds Peak6 Strategic Capital LLC and H Venture Partners. The line has also attracted individual investors — one of them Leslie Blodgett, the former chief executive officer of Bare Minerals, and Tiffany Zhong, a University of California Berkley student who started an advisory group that consults with venture capitalists on marketing to Gen Z.
Said Blodgett, “When I invest in start-ups, I look for not just a cool idea but a team that is totally committed to their cause and the people they are serving. There are thousands of beauty brands on the market, [but] the ones that make it are the ones that understand that love is what drives connection and ultimately builds brands.”
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With the beauty market becoming increasingly saturated, Haljun and Powell still saw a white space in skin care that speaks to Gen Z. “We felt the values of today’s generation [of youth] were not being represented [in skin care] in a meaningful way,” said Haljun. Kinship is targeted at young consumers ages 18 to 26.
Kinship’s cofounders are not exactly card-carrying members of Gen Z, but they are the mothers of children under 10 and saw a hole in the market for a skin-care brand that, as Powell put it, was “clean and sustainable and efficacious and had science baked into it from the beginning, and a modern sense of voice.”
Haljun and Powell, who met on a blind professional coffee date, assembled a focus group of 50 Gen Z’ers — friends’ kids, and friends of friends kids’ — to fine-tune the Kindship ethos. Among them is Zhong, Kinship investor and a college student who founded Zebra IQ, an advisory group that consults with VC funds and founders on marketing to Gen Z. “As parents of Gen Zs, [the founders] actually get Gen Z, too. It’s rare to find a mix of people with both experience and trend-spotting,” she said.
Kinship’s products are described as science-backed and plant-based. The brand’s formulas are made with Kinbiome, a proprietary plant-based prebiotic, derived from the fermentation of lactobacillus, that is supported by new research that suggests skin issues such as acne can derive from an unbalanced skin microbiome. Kinship is launching with five products to start — Naked Papaya Gentle Enzyme Face Cleanser, $20; Insta Swipe Lemon Honey AHA Exfoliating Pads, $22; Pimple Potion with retinol and salicylic acid, $18; Supershield Hydrating Gel Cream Moisturizer, $22; and Self Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen with zinc oxide, $25.
The Kinship founders consider the brand to be clean, and in formulating abided by the EU’s ingredient standards and also looked to clean beauty retailer Credo’s guidelines. The brand partnered with Ocean Waste Plastic, an organization that recycles plastic found in oceans and turns it into product packaging, on its jars, which are made from 100 percent PCR, 50 percent of which is ocean waste plastic.
Photos of Kinship’s first campaign can already be seen on its Instagram account, @lovekinship. The images feature both men and women in sunny, colorful makeup looks next to photos of sunflowers, fruit, unicorn emojis, and text exchanges about skin care as self-care.
“Our children are our inspiration and they are going through a lot — they’re going to need to change a lot that the boomers didn’t get right, and first and foremost, that starts with needing to take care of themselves.”