It was fall of 2016 when I first met Frances Thrasher. She was promoting her skincare line, Kindred, in Houppette’s Greenville, Del., location, and I happened to pop in, desperate for a new lip gloss.
The fresh botanical fragrance of her products hit me as soon as I walked in the shop, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the line. A small informational sign about “oil cleansing” sat next to the collection of Kindred products, each simply packaged in a glass bottle with the list of ingredients well marked.
Having the mindset that oil should be removed from skin, not added to it, I asked Frances to demonstrate how it works. She put three pumps of Kindred Oil Cleanse into my hands and instructed me to massage my face. I could feel the product penetrating my skin as the fragrance I noticed when I walked into the store re-emerged. After letting the oil sit for a few minutes, Frances gave me a warm washcloth and told me to gently rub it off my face. Then, I gave my face a final rinse with warm water.
I expected to look and feel greasy. Not so. My skin looked fresh and felt soft and well hydrated.
I was about five months pregnant at the time, and Frances delicately asked me when I was due.
“March 26,” I replied with excitement.
“Can I give you some advice? Every night, before you go to bed, rub Body Oil on your stomach, breasts and legs. I swear it’s why I didn’t get stretch marks,” Frances said.
Music to my ears. I bought a bottle and started using it faithfully every night. I can tell you now that, over one year and one baby later, I am completely free of stretch marks.
Months later, in February, I met with Frances to interview her for The Hunt. Her two dogs, Bunny and Junebug, greeted me as I walked into her office and lab in Centreville. Decorated with antique furnishings, the shop was cozy and colorful. Glass apothecary jars filled with herbs and ingredients sat on tables lined with Kindred products. The scent I remembered from Houppette wafted through the air—lavender, sandalwood and rose geranium.
“Are you still using the Body Oil?” Frances asked.
“Every night!” I replied.
As Frances and I dove into the history of Kindred, I asked her how a former materials-science engineer decided to start a skincare line. “I went to Georgia Tech and studied Textile Engineering,” she said. “One summer, I was overexposed to chemicals in a polypropylene plant, and this created a lifetime of skin sensitivities and allergies.
“The change in hormones during my pregnancies intensified the problems. By my second child, I couldn’t use any soaps or shampoos. I was developing allergies to additives, thickeners and foaming agents. I did some research and I started using olive oil, but soon I got tired of smelling like olive oil all the time. So I took an online biology course to learn about the skin and read about all of the different plant oils and what they do. Eventually, I started making my own stuff.”
Living in Atlanta at the time, Frances would make samples and put them in Tupperware containers for family and friends. One of them urged Frances to take her skincare to the next level. “My best friend in Atlanta is a facial plastic surgeon and, when she was pregnant four years ago, I gave her a sample of my facial cleanser and moisturizer,” recalls Frances. “She saw amazing results and kept telling me I should start a line, but the timing didn’t seem right. We were getting ready to move to Delaware.”
It was Frances’ mother and sister who finally convinced her to start the line. “They just kept saying, ‘Your products are good; you should do this.’”
Kindred launched in November 2015.
In the middle of our conversation, my curiosity got the best of me. There were so many products to try.
“Can you tell me about the Body Bâton? The packaging reminds me of a Push Pop,” I said.
“That’s where I got the idea!” Frances responded.
The Body Bâton comes in a cylinder small and light enough to fit in your purse. As you need more, you push from the bottom. Frances put a little on my hands to try. It had a waxy consistency, more like a salve. I could feel it seeping into my skin as I rubbed it on. “The Body Bâton is great for hands, elbows, knees—anywhere that needs a heavier moisturizer. I even put it on my lips.”
I continued to play with the samples on the table as we talked about how much the line has grown. Kindred began with Oil Cleanse and has evolved into a full collection. “The Blemish Cleanse I developed initially for my daughter because she had acne, but it’s been a fantastic thing for people with Rosacea,” Frances said.
When we met in February, Frances was about to launch two new products: Under Eye Treatment and the Organic Lip Plump, both of which have already become top-sellers.
As we wrapped up our time together (and I wrapped up my new skincare products), I had to ask: “Where does ‘Kindred’ come from?”
“The name symbolizes the extension of family through kindred spirits and our universal interconnectedness,” said Frances. “I consider everyone who uses the line an extension of my family.”
Where does she hope to see Kindred in the future?
“I want others to see the necessity and power of good oils. I’m so excited for what the future holds because I really took a leap of faith with this line and it has given me so much.”
Kindred is sold at kindredskincareco.com and moradapure.com, along with Houppette (Greenville and Kennett Square, Pa.), the Inn & Spa at Montchanin Village (near Wilmington) and Terrain (Glen Mills, Pa.). You can also find it in boutiques and spas in Brooklyn, Oregon, Florida and Tennessee—and the list is growing.
If you pop by Frances’ Centreville shop and she isn’t there, chances are she’s at Vicmead’s Owl Ridge Farm riding her horse, Chateau.
Frances spent her childhood riding at her grandfather’s farm, but she didn’t ride for almost 30 years before moving to Delaware. “As soon as we moved here in 2013 and I realized how accessible the equestrian community was, I immediately started riding again,” she says.
Now, with her horse less than five minutes away from her store and lab, she’s able to ride every day—sometimes twice daily.
“Riding for me is like meditation,” she says. “Chateau is the best way for me to keep my blood pressure low and my brain clear. I believe that, once you connect with a horse, it becomes part of your DNA and it’s something you cannot live without. I am so fortunate to have this horse, an amazing place to ride and the fellowship of all the other people I spend time with in this amazing community. I count my blessings every day that I can ride.”