Kate Thompson launched The Kindr Company, providing an alcohol-free hand sanitiser, last August after realising that alcohol-based gels were wreaking havoc on her sensitive skin.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, she said: “Myself and one of my girls have really sensitive skin. The alcohol gels immediately made our skins really dry, cracked and irritated.
“My husband and my eldest child have got quite toughened skin. But actually with repeated use of alcohol gels, when they are out and about, you can actually see it on their skin that it’s much drier. I do think it’s affecting everybody.”
The mother-of-two has a background in marketing. She has spent the last three years doing freelance work after being made redundant from her job at an engineering business.
When the first lockdown was imposed she was doing some work for Viroklenz Infection Control based in Lancashire.
“I was doing some work with them as they were in the middle of making and trying to market better their cleaning products, which were all non-toxic, vegan and non-alcoholic,” Ms Thompson says.
The chemical engineer then turned their hands to a sanitiser until Government advice initially decreed that sanitisers needed to contain alcohol to be effective against coronavirus.
“Then more research went into alcohol-free sanitisers and more education came out that showed there were alcohol-free sanitisers that were effective against Covid,” Ms Thompson added.
“The solutions that these guys had made, they’d got all the approvals, testing and British standards to say that it was effective against Covid.”
Initially, her target market was fellow mums to provide them with a solution that was gentle on their child’s skin but also protected them against germs.
Since the face covering mandate, Ms Thompson says the individual use of hand sanitisers has decreased.
However, the founder of Kindr believes that requirements for businesses to provide sanitisers will be here to “stay for a long time”.
She added: “The mum market is always going to be there for me. They are always going to have, want and need hand sanitisers for their children.
“But I don’t think people will be like they were at the start of the pandemic, where we were all carrying around hand sanitiser.
“I don’t think people are like that anymore. They expect businesses to provide it when they go in and out of places.”
Kindr is seeing increasing interest from businesses, especially beauty salons, which want something softer that won’t damage things like nail polish.
Currently, Ms Thompson is packaging the products from her home in Burley in Wharfedale but she hopes to turn this into a business that has its own premises and employs its own staff.
She said: “I suppose I haven’t looked too much beyond trying to help people but the ultimate goal would be to get bigger, become more well-known.
“I would love to outgrow working at my kitchen table and spare room that we have turned into my office.”
The business is also aiming for B Corp certification, which is granted to businesses that balance purpose and profit.
Ms Thompson said: “It’s one of the many things that I have looked into. It’s something that I would like for our business and I would hope that we would be able to achieve it.”
Standing out in a crowded market
The coronavirus outbreak has led to a boom in the number of sanitiser suppliers.
“It’s a ridiculously crowded marketplace,” Kate Thompson says. “Everybody is making sanitiser at the moment.”
The biggest challenge for The Kindr Company has been getting its product in front of people.
“You can get these alcohol gels in any supermarket from 50p upwards and mine are retailing at £4.95 but it’s paying for better quality and the fact that they are refillable,” Ms Thompson said.
The start-up offers foaming sanitisers, regular sprays and mist sprays. Ms Thompson hopes to add more options.
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