Anyone who’s walked into a Sephora, Ulta, or even CVS has experienced the overwhelming sensation when staring down the mascara options. With so many creams, makeups, powders, cleansers, and other beauty products on the market, how in the world does Kinder Beauty narrow it down? We asked Kinder co-founder and CEO, Andrew Bernstein, about the selection process of what goes into our monthly beauty boxes. It might just help us harness a decisive attitude the next time we’re perusing the foundation aisle.
Q: Let’s start with the big looming question—of all the possible vegan beauty products available, how does Kinder Beauty narrow it down?
A: We believe we're the highest quality vegan subscription box on the market, and so we feel we should curate only the highest quality products—which is tough, to put it mildly. Sometimes we really like the way a product is packaged—or how it looks and smells and how great it feels on your skin—but then we take a deep dive into the ingredients and find something potentially questionable (such as siloxanes or EDTA) that we're not comfortable recommending for our subscribers. Ultimately, to make it into a Kinder Beauty Box, a brand or product has to have everything—the best ingredients, great results, solid ethics, attractive packaging and branding, and we need to be able to have the same trust in our brand partners that our subscribers have in us.
Q: How do you ensure the products are inclusive?
A: This is such a great question. And the answer is in large part we rely on the expertise of our brand partners. In the initial stages of our vetting process, one of the first things we discuss is how the products we sample and ultimately curate need to work for everyone. More times than not, we get it right. But within a community as diverse as ours, it's hard to get it right one-hundred percent of the time. When we don't, we hope to hear from our subscribers so they can let us know, and we take those suggestions with us as we curate future boxes. We're also exploring ways to make the boxes more personalized by later next year.
Q: How do you find brands to work with?
A: We keep our eye on social media and blog sites to find new ethical brands that people are buzzing about. We also read comments on Instagram and in our new Facebook Group, and we really pay attention to suggestions from our community. If you know of a terrific product, let us know!
Q: Who gets a say in what goes into a box?
A: Daniella and Evanna have the ultimate say. Every product that goes into a box has been stamped and approved by them. In terms of deciding on which products they should sample, that starts with me. At any given time, I have conversations going with dozens if not hundreds of different brands, from small mom-and-pop operations to large name brands. Before having Daniella and Evanna sample something from a particular brand, we need to make sure the brand is ethically aligned with Kinder Beauty, that the specific products' ingredients meet our brand standards, and that the product(s) will be available in the quantities we'll need when we'll need them. I get great input on specific brands to reach out to and types of products to look for from Daniella and Evanna—and also from my wife Audrey, who has helped with this aspect of the business from day one. We also get incoming pitches from roughly three to five new brands per day, and we respond to each and every one of them.
Q: What was the first product everyone agreed on for the first box?
A: The first product we all agreed on was the Andalou Naturals Brightening Turmeric + C Enlighten Serum. It went in our very first box in January 2019 and we still get customers—who have been with us since the beginning—telling us how much they love this product. Since then, we've gone on to work with Andalou several more times, and their products are always customer favorites.
Q: Have you considered themes for Kinder Beauty boxes? Are there any themed boxes to get excited about in the future?
A: Unlike other boxes, we've mostly stayed away from themes, because we find them limiting. To us, it's all about variety. We try our hardest to never put competitive or repetitive products in the same box, or even in back-to-back boxes. We understand that our subscribers can only have so many of any one thing before they're burnt on that particular product type, and so we always want to switch it up and keep things fun! That said, in 2020, we are going to be curating a lot more one-off boxes that will be available in limited quantities, such as the Plantixoxidants Collection everyone loved so much back in October. Many of these boxes will have specific themes—something fun to watch out for!
Q: Is there a product you were skeptical about but were pleasantly surprised by?
A: Personally, the Palo Santo Stick bundle in the March Box was a revelation for me. I had never heard of Palo Santo, but Daniella was such a strong advocate for it. To me, it just looked like sticks. Fast-forward all these months later, and I burn Palo Santo in my office almost every day—especially when I'm stressed and need to take a minute of me-time.
Q: What has been your favorite box? What about Daniella and Evanna?
A: My favorite box was the July Box. It had the bamboo toothbrush, all-natural toothpaste, the sleep mask from Dr. Botanicals, and the sleep pillow mist spray from Scentuals. I think that one was a customer favorite as well. Who doesn’t like an award-winning smile and plenty of sleep?! As for Daniella and Evanna, we've just released special collections of each of their favorite products of the whole year! Order one or both of these one-off boxes to find their favorites (hint: Evy’s got you covered when it comes to the perfect holiday-red pucker).
Tanya Flink is a writer and fitness enthusiast living in Orange County, CA.