Kaitlin was recently interviewed by Canvas Rebel. Here is the full story:
Meet Kaitlin Johnstone
We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Kaitlin Johnstone a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Kaitlin thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. So let’s jump to your mission – what’s the backstory behind how you developed the mission that drives your brand?
Kailtin and Kevin Johnstone are partners in life and business. As children, our fondest memories revolve around stories. Kaitlin’s mom & dad would tuck her in, give her a kiss goodnight, & share the adventures of Goofy, Donald, & Mickey. The Disney collection was her favorite. Kevin remembers insisting that his mom read the same baseball book to him every night, religiously. Kaitlin became a Kindergarten teacher & realized the importance of children reading books that interest them and having these books at home. Often times, she found herself buying books for her students to bring home and stocking her classroom library with titles her students could keep. She began passionately looking into the inequities of literacy access and wanted to do something more. Kevin knew he could help out. We created Kind Cotton to allow people to provide the magical experience of books to as many children as possible, all through our kindness-spreading clothing. Every purchase provides a book directly to a child.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
Kind Cotton is a small clothing brand dedciated to putting books into the hands of kids. I started Kind Cotton after 3 years in the classroom as a Kindergarten teacher. I had a vision of spreading a message of true kindness through clothes that would have a huge impact. Every purchase from our website equals a book for a child. To date we have donated over 82,000 books to children all across the country through our Kind Cotton reading program. We get involved with many different ways to donate books including: One School, One Book Donations; Selected elementary schools will receive a book with a theme of kindness and inclusion for every child. Schools will choose a day in which every eduactor reads the book, creates a lesson to go with it, and passes out a copy for each child to keep!
Nominate a Teacher Program; We have helped over 250 teachers create a more inclusive library that we craft specific to grade level and need
In Person Reading Programs; When we initally started Kind Cotton, I also started a reading program in which I would attend a local elementary school a few times a month and implement a fun and engaging literacy activity. At the end of the day, each child would receive a copy of the book I read.
90% of the books we donate are from either BIPOC, LGBTQ+, or Disabled authors. We believe in providing books that are rich and representation and provide ALL children an opportunity to feel loved, valued, and safe.
On top of the book donations, we are on a very active mission of spreading a message of true kindness through the clothing we create and resources we share. We believe that kindness should be more than simple pleasantries. It needs to be rooted in justice and grounded in action in order to cultivate change in our world. Every project we take on at Kind Cotton revolves around this mission of kindness.
We’d love to hear the story of how you built up your social media audience?
We started Kind Cotton 5 years ago and I immediately created an Instagram account. After about a month I realized I needed to be more personal as opposed to product driven. Customers want to know your story, what inspires you to create, lessons you have learned along the way. They want to share in your joy and grieve in your sorrow in order to know you are human. I am grateful that I have made the choice to make Kind Cotton so personal. In fact, each time we release a new tee, we also write a blog to go with it explaining our personal connection to the product. This has created a community for us.
We also believe very passionately in the power of standing strong in your convictions and what we believe as a company. We are very social justice oriented and do the work to continue to grow, learn, and change in order to hopefully make an impact. Because of this, we have created a strong following who is passionate about what we believe. They look to us for book reccomendations as well as action steps for a better future.
My advice for anyone starting out is foster real connections and remember quality of followers over quantity.
Can you tell us the story behind how you met your business partner?
When I had the initial idea to start Kind Cotton, I immediately told my husband. He was working in custom apparel at the time and we thought that my education background combined with his apparel knowledge would be the PERFECT combination and it has been. Many may think that working with your life partner would be hard, but we are the perfect combination. I am the dreamer and he’s the logistics. I’m the social butterfly and he’s the man behind the screen. I have a new idea, he makes it happen. I send him a blog about a new product idea that has to go out in 30 minutes, he has it done in 29.
There is beauty in working with someone who is just as passionate about your mission as you are and I am eternally grateful that I have found that in Kevin.
- Website: kindcotton.com
- Instagram: kindcotton
- Facebook: kindcottonclothing
- Twitter: kind_cotton
- Other: TiKTok: Kindcotton