In our interview series #GOODTHING, we speak to founders who make the world a better and more beautiful place with the products they create. A perfect example of such an inspiring person is Eveline from Kenkô. Inspired by the intimate connection between a mother and her child, Eveline creates natural skincare products for moms and kids. It consists of a nourishing body oil, a organic body wash and a natural bath oil.
We fell in love with Kenkô at the first second and are super happy to introduce you to Eveline and her label for the launch of Kenkô on orbasics.com!
Photo by © Kenkô
Dear Eveline, can you start out by telling us a bit about yourself and your family? How did you grow up, where do you live now and what is your family life like?
I’m the mother of a son called James who is almost 2 years old, expecting a girl in January and married to Tim. We live in the Netherlands, if you draw a triangle between Aachen, Maastricht and Liège, we live exactly in the center. The area we live in is known for its landscape with smooth hills, medieval castles, little farms and many apple trees. I love being outdoors, enjoying the richness of nature and everything our garden has to offer. We produce our own apple-juice, harvest natural honey from our bee colony and produce a local delicacy called apple syrup.
Besides this, I love the atmosphere of vibrant cities. Especially when I visit places which are creative by merging nature into a city. City beaches, rooftop farms etc…. For me it shows that humanity is a part of mother nature and that people will always make it a part of their lives.
What did you do before founding Kenkō?
We launched Kenkô skincare in February of this year, at the start of the Covid-19 crisis. Before that I was running an online shop for clean beauty products.
I sold a lot of beautiful beauty brands from all over the world. Then I got pregnant. The pregnancy and all the new experiences around it gave me the last push. I quit my web shop and focused entirely on my new idea: Kenkô, a line of natural skincare products for mothers and babies. Locally produced and with sustainability in the core of the brand. Keeping in mind that life is not temporary, it is all about the legacy that we leave behind for the next generation. I believe in the Kenkô lifestyle, one which prioritizes sustainable choices.
Photo by © Kenkô
Can you tell us about how your line of natural skincare products came to be?
The idea of creating a brand for natural skincare products started during my pregnancy. Many mothers experience feelings that make them really think about life and how they can create the best and safest environment for their child. I strongly believe that those feelings can play a very important role in changing the habits of humanity. The moment in which we are most likely to change is during this time in our life, in which new life is created.
You are probably wondering what this has to do with Kenkô? Well, Kenkô not only aims to offer cosmetic products with exceptional ingredients. We create a second layer, the invisible cream, that goes beyond physical application. What if I could create a natural care line that strengthens the feelings that I felt myself so strongly? What about a product that I can use during my pregnancy and create a baby product that’s derived from the “mother product”? I thought a lot about this concept, started to do in-depth research and created the first product after months of trials and errors.
The key is that I, with the help of other mothers, developed this during my pregnancy and was very sensitive to fragrances. As you may know, the sense of smell in pregnant women is very good. This way I was able to create those unique products that are derived from one another and have this subtle connection. My hope was to offer skincare products that strengthen the bonding process from inception until a few years after giving birth. Now after a few months and a few thousand user experiences I can conclude that it worked out as had hoped. Moms and moms-to-be embrace and love the idea and products!
The next product line that I am currently developing is a very delicate body, room and linen spray. And guess what: I am pregnant again. This makes the development of this new product quite challenging again, but luckily I can benefit from my sense of smell again! This new product is meant to be used for pregnant women and gives strength and inner peace during pregnancy. Since the scent is extremely delicate, it’s applicable during pregnancy but also in the baby room on a ceramic diffuser.
My dream is that Kenkô will become a brand for mothers who share one mindset and want to create a better world.
Photo by © Kenkô
How do you select the wonderful fragrances and oils for your natural skincare products and what is the creation process for your products like?
Olfaction, also known as sense of smell, is the most primal and mysterious of our six senses. Throughout human evolution, our sense of smell has been a key to our survival and evokes certain emotions. There is a very interesting scientific explanation behind this and has a lot to do with the love hormone called oxytocin. This hormone plays an important role in social bonding and reproduction. Oxytocin is released in response to the stretching of the cervix and uterus during labor and with stimulation of the nipples from breastfeeding. This helps with birth, bonding with the baby, and milk production. Kenkô products are created to strengthen the mothers bond and it’s our ambition to drive this to a next level. We are planning to develop a series of rituals that together with Kenkô products results in the beneficiary production of this love hormone.
The fragrance notes were selected for the emotions, associations, and moods they evoke, as well as their effect on the body and mind. For example, vanilla was chosen for the feeling of security, warmth, and coziness that it evokes. Sandalwood was chosen for its warm, enveloping scent, its relaxing and nourishing properties, and its important role in spiritual traditions. Both perfumed oils are warm, soft, and relaxing. For mothers, the fragrance helps to both relax and energize.
We made a deliberate choice to incorporate a fragrance into our natural skincare products, as we feel that it contributes to the overall experience. The fragrances did not derive from traditional perfumes, but from a carefully curated selection of essential oils and natural ingredients. The perfumed oil for mothers is of the highest quality from the very best natural and organic oils. We also ensure that the oil for babies is hypoallergenic and safe to use.
Photo by © Kenkô
What should parents know when it comes to skincare products for their babies?
Try to keep it simple. Your baby doesn't need much in that first period: lots of love and only the occasional nice bath with a little of bath oil. After the bath, you can give your baby a loving massage with a good baby oil made of high quality oils. It’s a ritual your child will love and that you will both cherish.
What does sustainability mean for you? How do you live it with Kenkō and in your private life?
It’s all about balance. We live in a beautiful world with an ecosystem that is able to adapt itself and find a natural balance for all species. Unfortunately, most of us humans do not understand the importance of this balance and keep on disrupting it over and over again. We should respect this balance and start to understand that the solution is not to fight the effects but fix the causes. We should educate our children about the faults we made in bringing uncontrolled mass consumption into our lives. Making money and driving expensive cars should not be more important than contributing to a sustainable world.
The key is creating awareness and better education. Classes should be given more outdoors, teaching children about nature's wonders. We should learn from the simple principles of how to grow and harvest our own vegetables and start to think like beekeepers. If you take all the honey away from a colony, they can´t survice. But if you manage to create a good balance, they will prosper and provide you plenty of natural honey. In my private life, I am aware of the importance of this natural balance and act on it.
For Kenkô, we carefully thought about our ingredients, formulation, packaging, but also the partners we work with and how our packages are shipped. In the Netherlands, we deliver by bike wherever possible. The containers are made of 100% reused plastic and the boxes are paperwise, which is 100% bio and recycled material. We are now exploring the use of refillable packages since that will improve our footprint even more. At our office and my home, we use green energy thanks to our solar panels.
What is a typical day like for you? Do you have something like a specific routine?
My husband is a hospitality entrepreneur and owner of two restaurants. Thanks to that, we can start every morning with a healthy royal breakfast. He loves fermenting all kinds of garden vegetables so it’s very common to find homemade kimchi or sauerkraut at our breakfast table. Our son has a pancake and banana addiction. That’s why we eat a lot of pancakes made from oats and topped with warm cherries from our own garden.
Now during this pandemic, our routine is very different since my husband's restaurants are closed. The good thing about this is that we do have a lot of family time together.
Photo by © Kenkô
What role models inspire you?
All mothers. And so many other role models. I just watched the new documentary of David Attenborough, he is such a good role model too.
What is or has been your biggest challenge with Kenkô?The creation of the fragrance for the product range, as well as finding the right packaging that fits my needs. I am not quickly satisfied, so it cost me a huge amount of work and headaches to find the things I really wanted.
Besides that, there are still some challenges ahead. Like improving our bottles and finding an appropriate system that is refillable. We want to grow in Europe and become a lifestyle brand with a lot of impact.
And at least finding the right balance between Kenkô and my family.
How do you combine being a mom and running Kenkō? Do you have any special tips to share with other entrepreneurs?
Yes, for all of us it’s a big challenge. Time is so precious nowadays and I have some practical tips:
First, think about outsourcing non-critical parts of your business. We work with a team of highly skilled partners that add value to our brand and brand experience. Then develop a routine in which you wake up 1 hour before your kid wakes up and do some household and regular tasks. I know it’s a challenge, but it gives you plenty of time in the morning after bringing your kid to childcare or the grandparents.
Also, start early, because the most productive hours are in the morning. Eat a royal breakfast, but a quick lunch and go for a walk in the afternoon to reset your mind. Take time for your dinner and play with your child before or afterwards. After your child is sleeping, take a break for yourself and work max for one more hour. And finally, go to bed early.
Photo by © Kenkô
What do you hope the future brings for yourself and your company?
My dream is that all new mothers in Europe will get to know us. We have a lot of ideas and plans for new products, but I want to take the same steps for any new products. We involved a lot of mothers in the developing phase for this first collection, and we will do the same for any new products.
Please complete the sentence: “Children are wonderful, because…“… of the unconditional love you give and receive. It is indescribable.
Photo by © Kenkô
--Thank you so much Eveline for this wonderful talk! Your mission of creating natural skincare products that connect mothers with each other and their babies is just wonderful! We are so inspired by how much care and love you put into development of the products, your future plans for Kenkô and your parenting advice. We feel grateful we discovered your beautiful products and can offer them in our shop to spread the love. We keep our fingers crossed for your Kenko dream of becoming a global brand for mothers with a common mindset!