10 Questions with Janna Hart Black of Kinfolk Collective
Founded by Janna Hart Black, Kinfolk Collective is a New Orleans-based small business offering fun socks in unique designs with a generous twist: for each pair you purchase, Kinfolk donates a pair to a local shelter or person in need. I love the concept and how something so small can make such a huge difference in making a person healthier and more comfortable.
Janna was born and raised in New Orleans and grew up sewing and creating art. She wanted to be a fashion designer and after high school, she moved to Los Angeles to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. She went on to work in costume design and styling work before transitioning to designing full time for a women’s apparel company. Read on for more information about Janna and her company.
I love the branding of Kinfolk Collective and your mission as well! How did the idea to start this company come to you?
While living in downtown Los Angeles, I would have to drive through Skid Row everyday to get to the clothing company’s warehouse that I was working in. I would pass hundreds of homeless people everyday. This really hit me hard.
I got to talking to some of the people in the community and I learned that socks are the #1 requested – but least donated – item in shelters. I knew I wanted to use my skills in design as a way to help give back to those less fortunate in the city.
After a trip home to New Orleans in 2015 to visit my family, I saw that there was a huge homeless population there too. A light bulb went off: I should start up a sock brand that can bring the community together and give back to those in need. So I quit my job in L.A. and my husband, Tim Black, and I moved back to my hometown so I could start up Kinfolk Collective.
In January of this year, I did the first donation of socks to the New Orleans Mission. I went to the mission in the morning to meet with Pastor Ronell Williams, a great man who is spreading positive light in the city. We handed out socks to the men and women there, and I left additional socks to be given out to the people that need them at their other location.
Everyone was so kind and very thankful to have a new, clean pair of socks. Some of them even told me that I made their day, thanked me, and gave me a huge hug. I was almost in tears. This first donation really made me realize how important this truly is – not only giving out socks but going out into the community and talking to those who are less fortunate, showing someone that you care and want to help. What may seem like something small or insignificant to you may mean the world to someone else.
Each month I am going to be donating to a different shelter in the city.
What makes the donation socks different than the ones that are available for purchase?
The donation socks were engineered specifically for the needs of the less fortunate – they are a high-quality sports sock made using premium, moisture-wicking cotton. They are anti-bacterial and solid black in color to show less visible signs of wear. They’re very durable. I actually have customers wanting to buy the donation socks from me – that’s how nice they are!
What has been the community response thus far to Kinfolk?
I have had wonderful feedback from the community! People are reaching out about coming along to the shelters for the donations. Local stores and brands have been very welcoming and excited about Kinfolk. Currently, I am working on a collaboration with Freret & Napoleon, a Louisiana-based jewelry line inspired by all of that Southern charm & New Orleanian unruliness. We will be releasing our new sock design soon, so stay tuned!
How do you want the company to grow in the next few years?
The ultimate goal is for Kinfolk Collective to reach every city in the USA, to employ Americans and give back to the people in the community that need it most. I want to take Kinfolk state to state with the same concept: one pair purchased = one pair donated locally. The Kinfolk Collective brand is about coming together and giving back to your local family. Giving back LOCALLY is the key.
No matter how much you think you know, there is still more to learn. But that’s the fun of it, right? I have always wanted to be my own boss and always dreamed of being a strong woman in business.
How often will you come out with new collections?
I hope to drop new styles every few months ☺
What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow for inspiration?
@livefast_mag, which is run by my friend Vivianne Lapointe @ladyshark who is the editor-in-chief and always features incredible stories!
@fuckjerry for added daily comedy
But most of all, I love to follow all the movers & shakers out there like yourself – all the creative individuals out there doing big things!
Tim and I are currently catching up on all the Aussie TV shows that we have missed. Tim is Australian and we visit our family and friends back in Oz every year, but we still get homesick. This helps with that a bit!
What’s your favorite road trip out of New Orleans or favorite place to travel in general?
The drive from Los Angeles to New Orleans is amazing. Highly recommend it- make sure to stop at all the fun places along the way! I also love visiting friends and family back in Australia, which is such a beautiful country.
If you’d like to check out Kinfolk Collective in person, you can find it at the following retail locations: Dirty Coast (Uptown & Marigny), Defend New Orleans, Red Arrow Workshop (N.O. & Lafayette) and Genterie Supply Co, as well as at local pop-up markets Little Flea NOLA and Magazine St. Art Market. To stay in touch, follow Kinfolk on FB and Instagram!
All photos by Tim Black Photography.