From Chicago, Kristen Noel Crawley is an entrepreneur, designer, and mother of two – paving the way for the next-gen of BIPOC in beauty. She founded KNC Beauty after discovering and falling in love with lip masks on a trip to Tokyo, and realizing that most versions on the market contained hard-to-pronounce chemicals, she decided to produce a treatment infused with all-natural collagen. The deeply hydrating formula has become an industry favorite and first-of-its-kind, and its success has led her to also founding KNC School of Beauty – an online school providing invaluable insights for aspiring beauty entrepreneurs of color. To celebrate Mother’s Day and our collection of footwear, apparel, and accessories for women, men, and kids alike, we asked her some questions about how motherhood motivates her brand and business, and how she hopes to spend the holiday this year.
Describe a day in the life of Kristen Noel Crawley.
I usually wake up and, depending on if I have a busy morning or not, I go through as much of my skincare routine as possible. While the kids are waking up, I’ll multitask, getting all three of us ready at the same time. It can be a bit hectic, but once everyone sits down to breakfast, we’ve usually found our rhythm. I’ll typically go through my initial emails for the day while I get my oldest situated for school, and by the time he’s settled, I’m ready to connect with my team and get the day started. Unless we have any offsite appointments, I convene with my assistant in my home office to get the ball rolling as we align our schedules and tasks for the day. I’ll speak with my Director of Sales at KNC Beauty to make sure all is running smoothly with our site and various retail partners. Throughout the week, I’m in touch with our factories and distribution center as orders are processed and fulfilled for different activations and drops. I also speak frequently with our graphics team, who help conceptualize all of our packaging and designs. I also typically have obligations involving various brand partnerships that I fulfill with my team throughout the week. Between this and KNC Beauty, the days tend to fill up pretty quickly! It’s super important for me to end the day with my family so we can all have dinner together at home and reconnect. It’s always nice to come back to them after a long stretch of work.
How do you FEEL these days, and why?
o On one hand, I’ve been feeling inspired recently as we just bought a new house. I’ve been able to throw myself into the design aspect of everything while we renovate and prepare to move. I’m definitely happy to be going back home, and I can’t wait to have everything set up for me and my family. I’m looking forward to seeing how KNC Beauty will grow in the coming year as we continue our School of Beauty initiative and premiere some exciting collaborations that are in the works. It makes me feel motivated to continue my pursuits as the world begins to reopen and spring settles in. However, I also feel as if the bad and ugly in our society can be seen anytime you get on social media, from continued gun violence and racial insensitivity to the constant effects of the pandemic. I’m eager to have my kids go back to school and be around their friends, but there’s so much to fear nowadays that it makes me anxious to know they will be stepping back into the world. As a mother of Black children, it’s very important to me that they are aware of the dangers imposed on them by law enforcement and our society as a whole. I want them to know their worth and potential as they grow up in a world that can be discriminatory toward them. It makes me apprehensive for the future, but I know as their mother I have to show them the strength they must carry throughout their own lives.
As a female founder and mother of two, what/who motivates all you do?
For me, my children and my family are the biggest motivators I have when building my brand and my business. Someday, I want to have created something that my kids can inherit and make their own. I think it’s so important as an entrepreneur to grow generational wealth for yourself and your family. I want to create something so established that we can be an inspiration to others in our community and within the industry as a whole. The purpose behind our KNC School of Beauty is to help jumpstart opportunities for aspiring female entrepreneurs, and doing that is so fulfilling. I feel motivated to keep growing this initiative when I see all the excitement and positive feedback we’ve received from our audience.
Tell us about KNC Beauty, the KNC School of Beauty, and the inspiration behind both. Why masks?
Our first product was the All-Natural Collagen Infused Lip Mask, which I got the inspiration for while on a beauty trip to Tokyo. Lip masks are all the rage in Japan, but I had zero luck finding one that didn’t have all these synthetic ingredients attached to it. I was inspired to create my own version that could be marketed here in the US as a healthier, all-natural product that’s great for sensitive skin. After developing the lip mask, I decided to expand the range to include under-eye masks and full-face masks, along with our Supa Balms and Scrub. I’m so excited to be launching a new eye mask this year, which I think everyone is going to love. My favorite thing about our masks is that they really turn your face into a work of art. Put one on, and you’re selfie-ready!
I developed the concept for the KNC School of Beauty in direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement, which has grown immensely in the past year. I wanted to create a space where other female entrepreneurs like myself could connect and impart wisdom to the next generation of POC businesswomen. I’ve felt for a long time that the beauty industry deserves a platform where women from the Black community can share experiences and encouragement as we pursue our goals. The events of this past summer lit a fire within me to take action and build something speaking to the need for diversity and inclusion in both business and beauty. I was so thankful to my longtime partner, Revlon, as they are so generously donating a 10k business grant for every session that we hold. This alone can catapult an up-and-coming brand to the next level, which I find so important as we talk about financial growth and support within POC communities.
What sets KNC Beauty apart from other brands?
I believe KNC Beauty is unique in the sense that we cater to a wide age range and demographic. We were the first brand to develop an all-natural lip mask here in the US, and our products are truly made for everyone from ages 8 to 80! We value all standards of beauty, and hope to promote diversity and inclusion in everything that we do. The KNC School of Beauty has allowed us to be a leader in the conversation surrounding equality, especially within the beauty industry. I want our conversation as a brand to be both thought-provoking and uplifting. I absolutely believe that anyone can indulge in our products, and I hope that people feel beautiful when they wear our masks and make it their own.
What’s your most-used product you make?
o Our signature Star Eye Mask has been a definite fan favorite since its release. I wanted to create something that was effective yet totally Instagrammable. We infused the product with retinol and other all-natural ingredients that provide serious results you can see within minutes. Last year, we were awarded “Best Under Eye Mask” of 2020 as part of Allure’s Best in Beauty Awards. It was a total full-circle moment for me because I worked so hard to get the shape and color just right for this mask. I’m so happy that our customers have enjoyed sharing it on social media and with the world.
How do beauty and fashion intersect for you?
My beauty looks will often inform my fashion choices, and vice versa. I love to do a pop of color on the eye that then sets the mood for the whole look I’m going to wear. It’s always been a symbiotic relationship between the two as my love has grown and developed for both. In terms of my brand, I wanted the look of everything to be very fashion forward, so I’ve dedicated much of my time to curating our packaging and the aesthetic that surrounds KNC Beauty. Color and presentation are very important to me, so I think that has translated well both as an entrepreneur and a fashionista.
Describe your style and what it says about you.
I like to say that I embody a Black Carrie Bradshaw with a bit of Barbie influence and some 90’s realness mixed in. I personally like to dress with a creative eye, and I’m certainly not afraid to go bold with colors and patterns. I really enjoy mixing casual wear with high fashion just to add a touch of glamour to my everyday looks. I’m usually pretty laidback and fun, so I think that’s reflected in my personal style – even when I’m dressing all the way up.
Describe UGG and its collection for Mother’s Day.
Everything in this collection is just as cozy as you’d expect. I’ve been wearing UGG for years, and I’m still so surprised by how plush everything is when I try something new on. The Scuffette Foil comes in super-chic, soft shades and is just the perfect house slipper – I literally can’t stop wearing mine. I also love a robe or a cozy two-piece set, and the selection they have for Mother’s Day is the absolute cutest. I love the bright pastel colors they’ve used, which can honestly be worn at home or even when you’re out and about. My kids are loving the Oh Yeah and Fluff Yeah, which I want to pair with every outfit of theirs now. It’s super fun in the different shades available and definitely the coolest slipper you’ll find. I feel like this collection was designed especially for me and my boys, so I hope everyone loves it as much as we do.
How do you hope to celebrate the holiday?
I’m looking forward to spending Mothers’ Day with my boys here at home. Maybe we’ll make a big breakfast and go to the park for the day to spend some time together outside. Hopefully, we can all cuddle up in our UGG slippers for a nighttime movie and some snacks. My mom is in town too, so I’ll make sure to spoil her with something nice and relaxing for the day. I’m just happy to be surrounded by family at a time when it’s most important.