In Bustle’s Quick Question, we ask female leaders all about advice. Here, Jen Batchelor, co-founder of Kin Euphorics, a non-alcoholic alternative drinks & spirits company, discusses criticism, her relationship to alcohol, and what is was like getting her business of the ground.
When Jen Batchelor was a child, her father’s side hustle was distilling gins, beers, and wines from her family home in Saudi Arabia. From this, she saw firsthand how drinking could create community and cultivate connections among groups. But while alcohol had the power to bring people together, she also learned that it didn’t always bring the best out in people — in fact, it could actually be destructive in social settings and interpersonal relationships.
“It didn't matter how much I spent on my alcohol, or how ‘premium’ I thought the experience was based on what was written on the label,” Batchelor says. “All of my alcoholic experiences were by default and not by intention...And so the things that were really, truly enhancing my connection to self and my self-betterment were very clearly in contradiction to this very numbing, depressive experience of drinking alcohol.”
Jen launched Kin Euphorics — a line of “functional beverages” filled with nootropics and mood-boosting natural ingredients — as a grassroots business from 2016 to 2018. She wanted to create a booze-free drink that could offer euphoria, energy, and connection without the toll that alcohol has on the body and mind. In 2021, she brought on Bella Hadid as a co-founder and since then, the brand has expanded its footprint, collaborating with brands like Bumble, launching pop-ups during NYFW, and more.
Below, she discusses her brand’s mission, offers advice about how she stays inspired, and shares what it was like to start a first-of-its-kind company like Kin Euphorics.
What was it like pitching Kin Euphorics as a new, booze-free way of achieving euphoria through drinking? Did people understand your mission right off the bat?
I think people saw the value in something functional. It was a light bulb moment for them to assess how we've been doing this ritual the same exact way for the past 10,000 years, but if you ask yourself, “What is the future generation going to be drinking?” It's going to be something smarter than what we're doing now.
But then you get into the boardroom and sit with investors or sit with manufacturers, and they definitely laughed me out of the room. You know, I mean, we had a number of labs that were like, cool idea, but we can't make this happen.
How did she get them on board?
We were essentially grassroots from late 2016 to late 2018, just convincing nutraceutical firms and food scientists to take this seriously and convince people who are focused on pills and powders to actually manufacture a product and an upcycled socket bottle. There was a lot of discomfort early on, but once we got them on board, they've been partners of ours ever since.
Why is the word “euphoria” so important to the mission of Kin?
Euphoria means what it means. We're very serious about the integrity of that word. There's a very deeply rooted etymology of the word euphoria, and the root word euphoros, which gets its name from ancient Greece. Euphoros, if you break down the two, is essentially just to bear well within yourself. It's a very personal experience.
That word has been, sadly hijacked over the last 70 years or so since the psychedelic drug era. But, my conviction around the word and why we put it so prominently on our cans and our bottles, is because if you steal a word from people, how can you expect them to experience it if they can't express it? And that's the reason for incorporating the idea of euphorics back into what we're doing — to help people reestablish that sense of self and natural well-being.
How did you and Bella Hadid meet and begin working together?
It was the fall of 2020. I got a call from her management team — she basically told them, “Please help me sit down and talk to Jen. I just want to hear more about how this product came to be.” She had been popping 30-some odd supplement pills and powders and things as a result of her Lyme disease, which she contracted back when she was 14. She told me her story. I told her mine. Without an agenda, we just started building a relationship. And in September, almost a year later, we shared with the world that we're coming together.”
How do you guys work together?
We very much complement each other. Bella very much resonates with this younger generation of folks that are inundated with considerations. Gen-Z is so intentional and considerate when it comes to the planet, themselves and each other. All the existential crises that are upon folks 25 and under is no joke.
[She’s open] about her struggles with social anxiety or how world is shaping up and how she's contributing. [As a] mid to elder millennial, I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, I didn't care about any of this stuff when I was in my twenties.” We teach each other in many ways, but I think that's also extremely reflective of our core audience and the people that we serve every day.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning to start your day off right?
My phone is in the kitchen, so I don't look at any screens, and I just take a deep breath and I say thank you. As soon as my feet hit the ground, it's thank you, thank you, thank you. Trying to start my day with the energy of gratitude is incredibly important to me and just helps me reconnect to, “Yes, we're gonna get into the workday, we're gonna have all these exciting or challenging things — but so long as your feet are on the ground, you can really weather anything.”
We try to hustle the baby out for a walk before the sun gets too high up. I go for like a three-mile walk every morning. If I'm lucky enough, I can stop off in journal a little.
How do you stay motivated?
Customer reviews. That is the biggest [thing]... For every single customer, there's a different story. And we're lucky enough that 10%, maybe more of them, actually write in to tell us what's going on with them and how Kin has changed their life, or what they love, or don't love about the product. Everything makes us better. Everything makes us more connected to the mission.
I just hear these stories and it's like, wow.
You started Kin as a self-funded start-up. Do you have any advice for people who started out like you, and who are trying to get their business off the ground?
Find your people. You could spend every single dollar on putting forth the perfect package and best social media and the best team and the best product, but if you don't have your people — people who actually give a shit about what you're doing — it's gonna be a long road uphill. Especially if you're expecting that seed money to turn into a bigger supporter investment.
You gotta serve the human and that's what we did. We have over 10,000 people in our beta cohort that started as 100 people.
Any final advice?
My big sort of mantra with everything, whether it's business or pleasure, is that there's always something to be learned by someone who's entering your space. There's always an opportunity to collaborate in that sense of — what can I learn from this person? And how can I use that to contribute more to the world?
I think honestly, that's what it always boils down to. Part of what we do is that conscious connection piece because I truly believe that that's the building block of progress. The building block of joy is human touch.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.