A Slice on Kelly Perkins, Founder of Spinster Sisters
Core values reflect a company’s beliefs. For Spinster Sisters, one of those beliefs is sustainability. Kelly Perkins founded Spinster Sisters in 2012 with the goal of creating skincare products that are non-toxic and gentle for consumers and the environment. The company was born when Perkins read an article in the ’90s about dangerous chemicals in mass-produced skincare products. After learning about the danger of those chemicals, Perkins refused to put them on her body and decided to take matters into her own hands. Spinster Sisters was born with sustainability in mind. A big part of Perkins’s lifestyle, it was only natural for her to create a business based on the same principle.
While many companies often fail to put their core values into practice, Perkins has made it a priority for Spinster Sisters to conserve it. As a leader, the role of preserving the company’s values falls heavily on Perkins’ lap. Throughout her journey, she learned that practicing sustainability presents its own challenges. For instance, sustainability does not always resonate with retailers and customers. To maintain the company’s values, Perkins had to pivot the company into a different direction with a mission to overcome the disconnect between her and her stakeholders.
After exploring her options, Perkins saw an opportunity for Spinster Sisters in the natural grocery world. She closed retail stores, changed pricing models, and cut SKUs to fit the company into the natural grocery market. The decision was risky, and Perkins was “not the most popular person in the building.” Now being on the other side of it, she is glad she took the leap of faith. Today, her company is in a better position while still being able to conserve its core values.
Furthermore, being in Colorado plays a significant role in helping Spinster Sisters grow. Colorado has a large market for sustainability, which gives Perkins the leg up for her business to stand out among competitors. “Colorado has such a big focus on buying local and supporting small businesses, and it’s just such a great community and a great ecosystem for that.” Aside from supporting sustainability, the Colorado business ecosystem is also supportive of women-owned businesses. Perkins shared there is a disproportionate number of women-owned companies that failed during the pandemic because of the unleveled playing field. She explained that although the Colorado ecosystem is not entirely equal for women founders, there are still more opportunities than in other communities. Finally, she described the Colorado ecosystem as “fantastic” for sustainable and women-owned businesses.
When asked about her favorite part of being in the beauty industry, Perkins said she finds it amazing that she can pave her own path. From the beginning of her journey, she wanted to use clean and pure ingredients. Perkins finds many competitors claiming to be clean are still using ingredients that may be toxic to cut time and expense, which is very unfortunate in her eyes. As a leader, she has continuously chosen to only use clean ingredients that are harmless for consumers and the environment, proving the company’s unwavering dedication to its values. Perkins is continuously finding new and creative alternative solutions to reduce the company’s footprint as much as possible.
With years of experience, Perkins shared two lessons she has learned throughout her journey. The first is to start early. When she first started, there were many things she needed to learn as a founder. “There are days where I walk in here, and I think I have no idea what I’m doing.” Life as an entrepreneur is a roller coaster. Starting early gives young entrepreneurs the time to get comfortable with the ups and downs and learn to navigate risks. The second lesson she shared is to believe in yourself. Believing in yourself may seem cliché, but it is essential to mold a leader. Self-doubt will only prevent one from moving forward.
Success comes in many forms. For Perkins, it comes from the support of her employees and community. Perkins shared that her employees are actively involved in the company’s sustainability initiatives and help to implement them. Perkins feels amazing knowing that her employees share the same belief and are willingly working towards the same mission. Meanwhile, Perkins also received feedback and comments from her community that fueled her to keep the business going. She often hears how customers love using clean ingredients and rave about the results from using her products. The community’s feedback has impacted how Perkins led her company.
In the next five years, Perkins would love to see Spinster Sisters as a household brand. Today, Perkins is proud of how firmly the company holds on to its core values, as well as its growth. She has witnessed other companies push aside their values to grow and raise funds. Perkins shared that in Spinster Sisters’ case, it will be something they are never going to do.
Kelly Perkins is the founder and CEO of Spinster Sisters. She has a background in operations efficiency and held a position as an operation analyst before venturing as an entrepreneur. With a passion for sustainability, Perkins created Spinster Sisters with the goal of creating skincare products that are harmless to humans and the environment. Connect with Perkins on LinkedIn.