Bella Hadid doesn’t know how cans of Kin Euphorics, the nonalcoholic adaptogenic drink, ended up in her fridge. All she knows is that one day, in 2019, they appeared. “The universe placed it there,” she says.
Let her explain: Her meteoric career as a model meant constant 17-hour workdays, a hectic global travel schedule, and appearances upon appearances upon appearances. She was thankful for all of it—what a life! But she was also teetering on the brink of burnout.
“I would just go to the next job and the next job and the next job—constantly pushing and pushing,” she says. “I had to be at work at 7 a.m. and somehow go out the night before. It wasn’t sustainable.”
There were other factors too: Hadid says she still suffers from the lingering effects of Lyme disease, which include brain fog and exhaustion. “Put that all on top of my social anxiety, then being thrown into a business where everything is about being social—it was a struggle for me that not a lot of people saw,” she admits.
Drinking just exacerbated it all, leaving her feeling even more depleted, more low energy. (As it does for most of us: Alcohol affects the serotonin levels in the brain, which can worsen anxiety, especially the morning after consumption.) Plus, in order to execute on set, she couldn’t be hungover.
So when she glanced at the ingredients list of Kin—which includes GABA, a naturally occurring nootropic chemical that promotes relaxation, and tyrosine, a mood enhancer—she decided to crack one open and give it a shot. Maybe it could calm her—and allow her to responsibly let loose a little too.
It did the job, and then some: Fast-forward two years, and Hadid is now officially a cofounder and partner of Kin Euphorics alongside CEO Jen Batchelor.
While celebrity endorsements and brand ambassador roles are nothing new, as cofounder, Hadid is taking on a significant role within the company. In addition to her own investment, she’ll help run point on everything from branding to social initiatives to formulation. A tangible example? Kin drinks will soon be infused with lavender grown on the Hadid family farm in Pennsylvania. She’s not content with just being the face of the brand—she wants to build it too. “Creation is my love language,” she says.
Batchelor admits she was surprised when Hadid’s email hit her inbox. After several in-depth conversations, however, she realized, she says, that Hadid is a “kindred spirit.”
By all accounts, Batchelor’s company was, and is, a success. It’s carried at Soho House, Erewhon, Jean-Georges’s ABCV, and Harmons grocery stores in Utah. It has raised more than $10 million in funding since launching in 2018, a remarkable feat, especially when you consider that Black and Latinx startups only receive 2.4 percent of venture capitalist funding, according to a 2020 Crunchbase report. That, combined with the fact that only 16 percent of food and beverage executives are women, and only 5 percent of those women identify as Latinx, meant the weight was often heavy on Batchelor’s shoulders. “Being a female solo founder in this industry? It’s super lonely,” she admits. So when Hadid expressed interest in taking on a significant rather than superficial role, Batchelor jumped at the offer. “The opportunity that we could do this 50-50 percent together, that’s what excited me,” she says.
Hadid and Batchelor have big plans for Kin, many of which they can’t talk about yet. But the biggest is to stress that “brain care is self-care,” says Batchelor. Kin is, yes, used as an alcohol-free alternative, but also as a general wellness drink: Many of its key ingredients, such phenylethylamine and rhodiola rosea root extract, improve cognitive function and increase energy levels. “It’s not just for sober people. It’s also for the Wall Street businessmen. It’s for mothers who have to go to work all day and then take care of their kids all night. It’s for people who don’t want to drink but still want to have something that makes them feel good without regret,” says Hadid.
The latter is a fast-growing crowd. Call them sober-curious, call them sober-lite, call them people who just want to practice more mindful consumption: An estimated one in five American drinkers participate in Dry January. In 2019 a report found that 52 percent of adults wanted to reduce their alcohol intake. Meanwhile, IWSR, an alcohol-industry tracker, estimates low- and nonalcoholic drinks will grow 32.1 percent between 2018 and 2022. And while, yes, the pandemic saw alcohol sales shoot up across the Western world, many realized the escapism it provided was very much temporary. Hadid now counts herself as one of the people living a life with less alcohol. “I don’t socially drink nearly as much as I used to,” she admits. “You can either take one shot of whiskey to feel better for 20 minutes or you can drink Kin every day to feel better for a lifetime.”
On August 9, she posted a slideshow on Instagram as a reflection on the cosmic alignment called the lions gateway. A can of Kin was on full display, hinting at the partnership to come. Call it the Bella effect, or credit the wellness movement, but support for the brand-model kismet is clear: More than 2 million people liked the post.