Interview with Caroline and Anita, founders of MadeKind
Find out why a need for chemical-free cleaning products in their homes led Caroline and Anita to set up MadeKind, and create natural, plant-based, refillable alternatives.
What’s your career background?
Anita: My background is in retail buying and merchandising. As well as working for larger high street retailers, I have also worked for smaller online companies such as Not on the High Street and Content by Terence Conran.
Caroline: I worked in fashion buying for high street brands for 15 years. It was fast, competitive and cut throat, but also great fun.
How did your career change after having children?
Caroline: I never considered the impact that fast fashion was having on the environment, and it was only after having children that I drastically changed my own shopping habits.
I felt uncomfortable with the idea of throwaway fashion and cheap synthetic fabrics. I also started resenting the long hours and constant travelling, and started thinking about a change of career that would fit in with family life.
Anita: Retail head office hours are long, and I hated handing over my crying daughter to a child-minder every day. I wanted to be able to work, but also be there for my children when they need me. Working from home and for myself works for me and my family.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
So many things helped bring MadeKind to life. We talked a lot about the effects of harsh chemicals on Caroline’s daughter’s health, friends who have cancer, and eczema caused by cleaning products. We were also gradually facing up to the amount of plastic packaging that we use and supposedly recycle, but a lot of which still ends up in the ocean. All of this fed into our idea for safe but effective natural cleaners in non-plastic bottles – and bottles that look beautiful on a kitchen counter too!
We’ve since expanded our MadeKind vision to include natural dog grooming products, soy wax candles scented with essential oils, and planet-friendly kitchen accessories. We also produce refill packs for our cleaning products which cut down on packaging.
How did you move from idea to actual business?
We had a clear vision of what MadeKind would look like, and the products we wanted to stock. But we soon realised that with no science background, we needed to find a company to help us formulate our products.
We eventually found a laboratory that specialises in developing eco products and could bring our vision to life, so we began our journey with them.
What’s your USP?
MadeKind uses glass and aluminium bottles instead of plastic, and you will only find natural, plant based ingredients inside them.
Who’s your audience?
Honestly, anyone who cares about the health of their families, pets, themselves and the planet.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
As a fledgling business with a very limited marketing budget, this has been the most challenging thing we’ve faced so far. We’ve learned the most effective way to promote MadeKind has been by word-of-mouth, and the lovely comments our customers say about our products on Instagram @made.kind and Facebook @MadeKindCo.
I’m sure it’s true that people trust what their friends say about a product, and will be more likely to try it themselves.
What’s been the most successful marketing strategy?
Finding a genuine influencer who loves our products, and giving her a discount code which she can share with her followers. People trust her judgment and like getting an extra discount.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome so far?
Caroline: Covid has to be the biggest challenge so far. We were trying to launch a new business, while working from home, while home schooling children.
Part of our strategy was to have a physical presence in shops and markets, hosting events, and generally getting local people to know about MadeKind. Suddenly having to do all our networking behind a screen became a huge challenge.
Anita: On a practical side, it was challenging to secure trigger sprays for our bottles. Big manufacturers had taken all of the capacity at the factories that make them, and there were also delays in supply – all caused by the pandemic.
And your proudest moment so far?
Caroline: I think seeing MadeKind products in our beautiful amber bottles and having them in our own kitchens. The smell of the products is so uplifting, with the essential oil blends of lavender, rosemary and peppermint. It was exactly as we had imagined and we couldn’t wait to start selling it!
Anita: My friends trying our products and genuinely praising them, and ordering more.
Why is work so important to you?
Caroline: I believe that if you do something you love then it doesn’t feel like work, it’s more of a lifestyle. This does mean that you end up working after the kids are in bed, and at weekends, and the whole family get dragged into photo shoots etc.
Anita: I totally agree with Caroline – it really doesn’t feel like work at all – and I am working on this incredible project with a very good friend.
Who inspires you?
Anita: My Dad. Unfortunately he is not with us anymore, but he had his own business and was incredibly driven, and his family was the most important thing to him.
Caroline: I’ve always been inspired by Anita Roddick, whose early goal was to earn an income for herself and her two daughters. She built the brand on empowering women and girls with every product and every business decision, striving for equality and creating opportunities for women.
She believed that business has a responsibility to give something back to the community and the world, supporting local communities and environmental projects.
How do you balance your work with your family?
Anita: Work and family blends together. We all want MadeKind to be a success, so it doesn’t feel like this is a bad thing.
Caroline: With great difficulty, but getting them involved in the business helps.
What are your three top pieces of advice for someone who wants to do something similar?
- Do something you love or feel passionate about. It will never feel like work, and you won’t resent all those long hours.
- Invest in good photography if you’re selling a product. Showing good quality images of products in lifestyle situations can help convince potential customers to make that purchase.
- Ask for advice from everyone you know, including competitors. It’s amazing how happy people are to offer free help when you’re a start up. And don’t forget to offer help in return.
Find out more about MadeKind.