Keep Yourself Smelling Sweet, well that’s definitely the case when you are a KYSSer. KYSSers are what Renee Marshall-McKinley lovingly refers to her customers. KYSS can be found in a few local boutiques and even a mobile fashion truck. You can find KYSS selling their products at shows or teaching their craft. Subscribe for Progress.
Lena Benjamin, founder, and CEO of EmpowerHER Global had the pleasure of interviewing Renee Marshall-McKinley, CEO and Founder at Keep Yourself Smelling Sweet – KYSS, located in Newark in the USA.
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Renee’s journey began by mixing body butters and soap in her kitchen, in small batches to maintain integrity and quality. Her affordable line of natural products promotes a healthy, sweet-smelling cleanliness where you can pronounce the ingredients. Renee was recently selected as one of the 50 Founders to watch by Essence Magazine.
Hello Renee and Welcome to the EmpowerHER Global show Renee. For those women in business developing a product range, I’m sure they will be interested and will peak their interest.
What’s the KYSS short story?
I started KYSS because I wanted to learn about the science of making soap. I was purchasing a coconut soap from a local vendor and I fell in love with it. One day I was in the shower and I said to myself “I wonder if I can make this soap myself. Just like that and the rest is history.
I love that. Don’t you think sometimes when you step into a shower and you have this alone time, incredible ideas come to you? And the fantastic thing about your story is that you have taken the idea and you have put it into action, which is what some people just don’t do.
How do you entice new customers to buy KYSS products?
That’s a good question. Let’s face it there are many beauty products out there. Pure and simple we offer great products. The world is shifting its becoming more natural. People want to know what’s going on their body. So we use products that customers can pronounce and that way they can trust the ingredients.
Word of mouth – social media plays a large role for us in attracting our KYSSers and that’s what you call our customers.
That’s fantastic so you have your Tribe – that’s what Seth Godin [well-known author and thought leader] refers to it as. So you have created your tribe of KYSSers – I love it!
How did you find out about becoming recently selected as one of the 50 founders to watch by Essence magazine? [Essence magazine is described online as Black women’s lifestyle guide for the latest in fashion trends, black hair, love & sex advice.]
So believe or not it was an Essence magazine subscriber. I was on my way to Maryland for a big event. That morning when I got up I saw a text message saying that I just saw your company mentioned in the November issue of Essence Magazine. I couldn’t believe it, because I hadn’t even pitched Essence. However, I believe that people were working on behalf of my good. It must have been one of our KYSSers who reached out to Essence and that is how the magazine found out about KYSS. What is interesting about that is that I was at another event the following month and Essence Magazine was there and they were there talking about the 50 founders to watch article. And I jumped up and said I’m one of the founders!
I’m sure this will lead to other things. Being recognised by Essence magazine. I mean how has this been for business?
It has been great. Because as you know Essence is a nationally established magazine for women of color so just to be recognised. That being said we have seen growth in sales – web sales, social media interaction. We just filed a wholesale order this afternoon. I’ve made some new contacts and new friends. The growth is just unbelievable.
Fantastic, it goes to prove that developing a product and showcasing yourself as the go-to and creating a tribe of customers that support the brand. In your case KYSSers who can endorse you and create that words of mouth you can get pick up by a national magazine – a globally recognisable magazine for women of colour is the way to go – let’s face it – congratulations.
What’s it like living and working in Newark?
Newark is a great City. You have to live here to know it and understand it. You either love it or hate it and it happens to be a place that I absolutely love. The City is thriving and because of that so are we. So it’s a great place to live.
Geography is not my strength. I’ve been to Chicago and New York in the last few years, is Newark anywhere near those two places? [Note: I know I could have Googled it!]
Newark is 30minutes from New York – 20 minutes by train and 30 minutes if you are driving so very close to New York.
Did you mention Maryland that’s in the Washington DC – right?
Yes, it is, it is about 3 hours from Newark. So we do travel we have been to Florida and Georgia – so call us!
That’s another big state for entrepreneurship Georgia, particularly the City of Atlanta
It is Atlanta is huge, particularly for natural products. Particularly women of color love their products so we are grateful to them.
Thank you so much Renee Marshall-McKinley, CEO and Founder at Keep Yourself Smelling Sweet – KYSS, located in Newark in the USA. Products available online with a 10% discount on your next online order, or at your local show in your City within the USA.