Naomi Osaka and Colin Kaepernick Want to ‘Right the Wrong’ With Black Skincare

kinlo skincare
Naomi Osaka for Kinlò | courtesy

Athletes and activists, Naomi Osaka and Colin Kaepernick team up to make Kinlò’s skincare and sun protection more accessible to people of color.

Four-time Grand Slam tennis singles winner Naomi Osaka designed the skincare brand Kinlò for people with Black and Brown skin tones. But it’s more than that, according to its newest investor, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who’s just joined the company as an investor and a board member.

“I am honored to join Naomi and her amazing Kinlò team of diverse and experienced leaders as the company works to grow a responsible business all while maintaining its commitment to the community we have set out to serve,” Kaepernick said in a statement.

Kaepernick joins A-Frame co-founders Hill Haper and Ari Bloom, Osaka’s agent Stuart Duguid, and investors including tennis legend Billie Jean King, Forerunner Ventures, Initialized Capital, and Bob Fisher, Endeavor. The company has also announced Brand President and board member Mia Meachem. She brings two decades of experience working in the category with industry leaders Estée Lauder, Burt’s Bees, and Drunk Elephant.

“I am really excited about the new leadership we have built around Kinlò,” Osaka said. “Colin is such an important and iconic figure in our culture and also brings a smart business mind. There is no one I could think better represents the values of our brand,” she said.

“Bringing Mia on board is another essential move. Her experience in the industry gives her a unique perspective that I hope will help take the brand to the next level. Whenever I choose people in leadership positions on my team, whether on or off the court, I always look to people who are true experts in their field. Mia is exactly that and I can’t wait to get started with her,” Osaka added.

Kinlò skin care

“Not only does Kinlò produce compelling and sustainable personal care products, but it also calls attention to the ways that melanated skin-toned communities are often marginalized in research around suncare and often excluded from clinical studies on skin cancer. I believe Kinlò has the capacity to right this wrong,” Kaepernick said.

Skin cancer isn’t as common in Black people as other skin tones, the mortality rate is significantly higher than in white people. That’s because it can often be detected at a much more advanced stage on Black skin. Kinlò is aiming to change that.

“Time and again, history demonstrates that mainstream public health priorities and personal care products rarely, if ever, center Black and Brown communities. I’m honored to be joining a team whose vision unflinchingly prioritizes the well-being of our communities,” Kaepernick told Black Enterprise.

“I think there has been this long-standing myth that you don’t need suncare if you have melanin in your skin, and that’s false,” Meachem said. “Raising awareness and educating consumers alongside providing sustainable products; so really the importance of protecting your skin from the sun and also just understanding people of color do get skin cancer, so awareness on a broad spectrum is important.”

Kinlò is formulated with natural ingredients including jojoba seed oil, hemp seed, and green tea—all aimed at treating issues common in melanated skin.

Most recently, Canadian model Winnie Harlow released a suncare brand developed for people with Brown or Black skin. Called Cay Skin, it also pulls on her Jamaican heritage with ingredients known in the Caribbean for their skin healing benefits.

Like Osaka, Harlow saw a gap in the market. “No one has enough melanin to protect from the sun’s rays,” Harlow said. “I wanted to make sure that people understood that this is for everyone under the sun.”

Osaka and Kaepernick’s activism

Kaepernick is a friend and supporter of Osaka; both used their sports platforms to call out social injustice. Kaepernick famously began kneeling or raising a fist during the National Anthem at the start of NFL games in 2016 to protest police brutality against Black people. In 2017, he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers, and has been an activist and impact investor ever since.

At the U.S. Open in 2020, Osaka wore face masks to all of her games bearing the names of Black people killed by police, a move she said was about spreading awareness.

“It’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names, so hopefully I’ll get to the finals so you can see all of them,” Osaka said ahead of the finals. She defeated Victoria Azarenka in the finals, wearing a mask with Tamir Rice’s name on it. Rice was a 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed in Ohio by a White police officer in 2014. 

“I’m aware that tennis is watched all over the world, and maybe there is someone that doesn’t know Breonna Taylor’s story. Maybe they’ll, like, Google it or something,” Osaka said. “For me, (it’s about) just spreading awareness. I feel like the more people know the story, then the more interesting or interested they’ll become in it.”

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