Nichole Powell is here to make bug spray chic. No, seriously. Rooted in the spirit and joy of the outdoors, the name Kinfield stems from “kin in a field,” i.e., spending time outside with the people you love most. Founded by lifelong outdoors lover and Minnesota native Powell, Kinfield was inspired by Nichole’s formative travel and weekend camping experiences with her family as well as an extended, six-month international travel trip in 2014 where Powell visited Iceland, Morocco, Malaysia, Indonesia and more. In 2017, while packing for a camping trip to Yosemite, Powell suddenly realized the need for clean, all-natural products for everyday recreation and Kinfield was born.
What inspired you to start a brand like this?
NICHOLE POWELL: I was inspired to start the brand while packing for a camping trip to Yosemite with friends. I noticed that the skincare I was bringing was sustainably made, delightful to use and packaged beautifully—but the insect repellent and aloe gel I was packing were the same ones I remembered using as a kid in Minnesota. I realized that I wasn’t still using those products because I loved them, but because there wasn’t a better option out there. I wanted products I could trust, that were powered by plant-based ingredients and scientifically proven to be effective. I also realized that there was a tremendous opportunity to build a joyful brand around the community of people who enjoy getting outdoors in an effortless and recreational way. We joke internally that our products are for both the outdoorsy and the “outdoors-ish,” and we love celebrating all the everyday ways that people can get outside. It doesn’t always have to be about a three-week trek in the Amazon.
We love that it’s chic. What was your inspiration behind the packaging and design?
NP: We started our internal conversations around packaging and design by thinking about sustainability first. We knew that we didn’t want to create any unnecessary waste, which is why we chose to forgo outer cartons and opted with lightweight, durable bottles that would be easy to ship without any extra padding or shipping materials. That meant that we had to fit all of the label information directly on the bottles and we needed to find packaging that would be able to feel chic and modern while still being durable and recyclable.
When it came to the design, we wanted it to reflect some of our internal values—of transparency, joy and celebrating the world around us. I also remember saying, “And no clip art of mosquitoes!” to our team on day one. We were inspired by the winding paths of rivers and I love how the design turned out—the transparent design, with its joyful pop of color in the nature-inspired path, feels playful and perfect.
Any sustainability or recycling efforts to note?
NP: Sustainability has been in our DNA from the very beginning—it’s why I chose to incorporate Kinfield as a benefit corporation and instill our mission for a happier, healthier world and environmental stewardship directly into our bylaws. We think about it in all aspects of the business, whether it’s opting for a more sustainably-grown ingredients (even if it’s more expensive) during formulation, choosing SFI-certified shipping boxes, offsetting our carbon footprint through carbon credits and reforestation efforts, or opting out of unnecessary packaging and filler material when shipping. We are also launching a take-back program soon that will allow us to help our community recycle even more.
How are these products different from those already on the market?
NP: Golden Hour, our DEET-free repellent, is better than both conventional repellents and other non-toxic versions. Golden Hour is powered by a unique strain of citronella that has better repellent properties compared to other citronella products—so it’s safe for you, safe for the environment and has been proven to be effective. We’ve shown through third-party lab testing that Golden Hour offers an average of just under three hours of protection time against mosquitoes. Unlike conventional products, we also are completely transparent about what ingredients are in the formula. So not only is it made with ingredients that are safer and more effective, but you know exactly what you’re putting on your body—and it smells delicious and dries quickly, without any residue.
Sunday Spray is our answer to the goopy, artificially-green aloe gels of our childhood. We love that it cools on contact thanks to aloe, spearmint and eucalyptus, while soothing and moisturizing skin because of the aloe and prickly pear extract. Being able to spray to apply is a total game-changer as well—just mist and enjoy, without having to rub in or wait for anything to dry.
We are incredibly proud of all our products, but Waterbalm might be the most unique—it’s a stick moisturizer that we formulated without any waxes or oils, so the feeling of it is like a refreshing splash of water onto your skin, with no lingering residue. It’s refreshing and hydrating all at the same time!
Give us a few of your favorite ways to get outdoors in NYC.
NP: I try to get outside every day—even if it’s as lightweight as an evening walk along the Hudson River to appreciate the epic sunsets from Domino Park, or doing a picnic team lunch on our office rooftop in Dumbo. If I’m running around the city, I’ll try to take calls or meetings outdoors—I love Maison Premier or Good Behavior! I’m also really excited to check out Rooftop Reds, which is an outdoor vineyard with a rooftop in Brooklyn—which feels like the perfect combination of both California and New York!
Now that launch is behind you, what’s next for Kinfield?
NP: Our focus now is on getting to know our community—it has been so fun to see all the places that people take their Kinfield products! We’re planning some fun community events here in New York and have been bringing customers into our internal conversations around future products. We’ll have new products and partnerships to announce soon, but for now, we’re really taking the time to meet our customer and understanding how to make their outdoor experiences the best they possibly can be.
Photography by: Photography by Marissa Alves