Meet Ghanaian American Philomina Kane, the founder of Kin Apparel, a clothing company she started with only $500. Kane’s adventure began while she was a biology undergraduate student at Princeton University. She was a member of the University’s rugby team, and her hair frequently fell out during games due to her inability to care for it.
She chose to cut her hair to deal with it, but as it grew back, she realized it required additional protection. She discovered herself putting on a scarf before a hoodie. She decided to make satin-lined hoodies to protect her hair one day.
The Bronx native started Kin Apparel in 2020 with $500 and generated some $350,000. Kin Apparel, which stands for “keep it naturally,” makes satin-lined hoods designed to prevent frizz, retain moisture and fit a variety of hairstyles.
With the same satin lining, it also makes pillowcases, beanies, bucket hats, and bonnets. Kin Apparel, according to Kane, also reflects her family’s roots. She told ABC News that her grandmother reared her for the first five years of her life in Ghana. Kane even integrated indigenous Akan motifs from Ghana into her sweaters.
“Traditional hoodies are made with cotton and cotton absorbs the moisture in your hair, leaving it dry, frizzy,” said Kane. “So, what we do is we line the hoods with satin. That does not strip your hair of moisture.”
Her firm received a significant boost in 2021 when she received $200,000 from Shark Lori Grenier and guest Shark Emma Grede in exchange for a 30% share in the company. Grede is a co-creator of Kim Kardashian’s SKIM shapewear collection, as well as the founder and CEO of denim label Good American.
Kane has made over $4.9 million in lifetime revenue, according to CNBC Make It, and she credits Grede’s coaching for her success.
“Take your time, feel people out and use the power of discernment before making drastic decisions in life and entrepreneurship,” Kane told CNBC Make It, recalling the advice Grede gave her that changed her approach to business.
According to Kane, the deal she accepted with Grede and Lori Greiner during her Shark Tank episode was just a “handshake agreement” as she closed a different deal off camera. “After due diligence [and] so much time had passed, literally nine months, I decided to only go with Emma,” Kane noted. She said the decision left her with less funding but allowed her to keep a bigger stake in her own company.
“Emma Grede is currently my investor for half the price [and] half the percentage. It was a decision I made just thinking about where I want to see my company and what makes sense,” she explained to CNBC Make It.
Kane wanted to hire more help as her business grew, barring family and friends. She now employs 15 team members, allowing her to properly manage all elements of her firm.