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Creating a wellness brand that meets the needs of the queer community
BUILDING A BETTER PRODUCT TO CHANGE LIVES. As an actor, Kylo Freeman has developed a thick skin for rejection. It's a skill that's proven helpful in their entrepreneurship journey in many ways, particularly in being unafraid to be bold and feeling the full power of appreciation when someone believes in your idea.
Kylo’s fearless approach to business is the root of their enterprise For Them, a wellness brand established in 2020 that focuses on issues facing the queer community. Their launch product is a chest binder, created predominantly out of necessity. As a queer, non-binary person wearing a chest binder at the time, Kylo is all-too-familiar with the lack of range and comfort of such a product.
"I decided that even though this wasn't a traditional venture-backable business, I figured, this is a problem that I have, and I should try and use my network, my resources, my privilege, to build a product that's better."
While raising funds for the startup, Kylo realized they would need to convince potential investors of the market's loyalty over its size. "The overarching view from our customers is that they are not just underrepresented, but literally not represented at all. Okay, we're not talking about half the population - though side note, it's a subset of the population that is growing massively every day - we're talking about people that aren't having their basic needs filled. I believe the lifetime value of our customer is much more intimate and fruitful."
The launch of For Them is the latest evolution of a journey that continues to surprise Kylo. Born in Liverpool, UK, they initially pursued a career in finance after studying maths at university. Moving to London shortly afterward, Kylo quickly realized a desire to "color outside of the lines," leading them into acting and eventually to New York, where, between jobs, they felt the pull of the startup world. Kylo’s first venture, Boycott Entertainment, was a production company and platform for underrepresented folks behind the camera, including writers, directors, and cinematographers.
A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE. The idea for For Them came during a shoot for a feature film when Kylo had to shave their head on camera. They had felt okay about it beforehand, but during filming, it triggered something. "It shed a layer for me, and I haven't grown my hair since. That was the pivotal point for exploring who I really am and my gender beyond the first layer of aesthetics and what is really underneath. That catapulted me into my business, the customer, and understanding queer wellness."
Kylo believes the success of For Them depends on responding to the community's needs. "That seems so simple, but I want to build on that because ultimately, we're not manufacturing need. We're not hitting people with smart advertising and trying to convince them to buy this cool new thing. It's just something that genuinely makes a difference in people's lives."
Since launching in December last year, For Them has sold over 17,000 binders. The plan is to extend their distribution reach and the community beyond the big US cities. "I'm really proud of what we've achieved so far, but our customers are evenly distributed around the US. It's a nod to me that we still need community; we need safety to engage with people who look like us and have our experience. We need to learn from each other. The next thing I'd like to do is find a way to expand our virtual community into these towns and places where people really need support."