Kin+Kind’s Pet Care Philosophy is Squeaky Clean
Co-founder Thomas Ling on his passion project-turned-side hustle-turned career.
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Growing up, siblings Thomas and Janine Lang were obsessed with pets. They had dogs, cats, and 21 (count ’em) rabbits. Natural and sustainable pet care was likely not an option at the Ling’s school career day, it makes perfect sense that the two ended up starting kin+kind, their one-stop shop for natural and sustainable pet products that actually work.
From flea and tick solutions to their allergy survival kit (seriously, their Itchy Kit has become a lifesaver in my very scratchy house), kin+kind is passionate about creating clean pet products that get the job done.
The siblings’ career trajectory to pet care wasn’t a linear one. Thomas started off with a career in law, but he always knew he wanted to return to his first and most rewarding passion: caring for pets like all those he loved growing up. That’s why, in 2015, he and his sister started kin+kind as a side hustle; they hoped to create pet products that were natural and sustainable with the added bonus of oh-so aesthetically pleasing packaging.
But kin+kind could not be contained to just a part-time jobby (that’s job plus hobby) — soon Thomas was taking his desire to help pets and pet parents to new heights with products including supplements, household cleaners, and kin+kind’s very own line of pet-safe CBD. I sat down with Lang to chat about the LGBTQ-owned brand, what’s next for kin+kind, and what pride means to him.
First, tell us more about your “childhood obsession” with pets and how it motivated you to start kin+kind.
I spent my childhood as a pet store junkie. Seriously, I would just hang around until they hired me to play with the animals. At home, our house was filled with birds, rodents, lizards, and other lost animals that we managed to collect over the objections of our parents.
And this was all in addition to our two dogs! After spending a decade as a corporate lawyer, my childhood obsession with nature and animal life called me to switch paths and launch kin+kind.
So tell us a little bit about Burke, the pup behind the person today.
We stole Burke the dog from a kin+kind photo shoot, and now he runs the company and the home. Our photoshoots are always filled with rescue pups from local rescues so that we can find each of them forever homes. Burke was the fattest, bossiest pup in the lot and demanded complete ownership of our hearts.
How do you balance Burke and running kin+kind?
Burke is an integral part of kin+kind. We like to refer to him as our chief product reviewer. But in addition to that role, he is a constant reminder of our mission: supporting our four-legged family who bring joy to our lives each day.
Kin+kind is on a mission to “clean up pet care.” What makes kin+kind’s natural products stand out from all the rest?
At kin+kind, we want to end greenwashing and demand transparency to ensure that pet products align with customer demand for products that are made with natural ingredients, designed by vets specifically for pets, and ethically manufactured in the United States. Most pet products in the market are mass produced in white label factories that manufacture human cosmetics and supplements and relabel them for pets. Even the brand owners may not know the ingredients, sourcing, labor practices, or compatibility with pet needs.
Lastly, as a LGBTQIA+ business owner, what does Pride mean to you?
Kin+kind proudly embraces every pet family, and that of course includes the LGBTQIA community. Growing up in the closet was a sad and lonely experience that Pride is intended to end. I grew up with formalized discrimination against our community enshrined prominently in the law, and hatred brazenly shared in public. I’m glad that we’ve made many strides past that experience, but we have so much further to go before every member of our community feels safe, loved, and respected.
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Rebecca Caplan is a writer based in Brooklyn whose work has been featured in The New Yorker, Reductress, and Vulture. She lives in Brooklyn with her perfect, toothless dog Moose.