How annoying is it when sunblock runs into your eyes — the stinging, the tearing, the blurry vision — why can’t it just stay in place? And what about those balms for muscle aches? Why do they have to be so greasy? Just ask Jeff Kletter about the time he went to the bathroom with some residue under his fingernails. Or better yet, don’t. But you get the picture.
Jeff was a liquor distributor in Vancouver, thirty-five pounds overweight, and according to his doctor, a prime candidate for an early heart attack. He had just turned thirty and he decided it was time to change his life. Jeff packed himself off to the local gym, where he hired a personal trainer named Josie to whip him into shape. Not surprisingly, Jeff’s muscles were sore those first weeks and nothing was working to relieve the pain.
“As a joke she said we should make something especially for you,” he recalls. Turns out Josie’s university degree was in exercise science and chemistry, and she had worked for cosmetics giants Estee Lauder and Clinique. So Jeff and Josie decided to give it a try. They hired a chemist, and consulted with one of Josie’s professors — a sports medicine physician. He passed on their balm to the Vancouver Canucks ice hockey trainer. It worked so well the Canucks asked for more, and Kinesys was born.
Seventeen years later, Jeff and Josie aren’t just business partners, they’re married with three young children, and Kinesys has moved from Canada to California, and from analgesics to sunblock. Why the shift in focus? It all goes back to the running in the eyes problem. And this:
“All athletes have a lower instance of disease except one. And it’s skin cancer. They’re outside training, they’re doing their events outside,” Jeff explains.
More than one million people are disgnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. Jeff figured that if his company could come up with a sunscreen that people would use, “then we had something.” Intent upon creating a safe, environmentally-friendly product that stayed in place, Kinesys was originally formulated for elite athletes. Now it’s marketed across Canada, as well as in the U.S.
Part of Jeff’s life change fed on his intense commitment to the environment.
“We’ve been sustainable from our inception,” he says. Kinesys is a B Corporation, a member of the Social Venture Network, and has trademarked itself with a term Jeff and Josie coined: Earthkind. “When it’s available to us we’ve used wind power and energy and then we did carbon offsets for all the product we couldn’t buy green power for. So we buy carbon offsets for our vehicles, for our flights, for everything we do,” Jeff explains.
In fact, in celebration of Earth Day last year, Kinesys bought the carbon offsets for each of their employee’s vehicles.
“Every little bit matters,” Jeff believes. “Even if you have recyclable or if you have compostable, people don’t always throw it in the right boxes. So it’s going into landfill anyway, which is painful. We wanted to make sure our packaging was recyclable, our labels were recyclable, our spray was recyclable. You don’t wonder if you should or shouldn’t, you just do it because it’s right.”
href="http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=915">Image: vitasamb2001 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Suzi Schiffer Parrasch