Meet The Maker
Tell us about yourselves?
-Kristi: I grew up in Billings, MT and White Salmon, WA before attending Washington State University (Go Cougs!) I am now a NE Seattle resident living with my husband and 3 children who attend Assumption St. Bridget. My career started out in finance and accounting working for Deloitte and then several alternative investment funds before pivoting at age 40 to start my own business with Lindsay!
-Lindsay: I was born and raised in Seattle. I graduated from the University of Washington (Go DAWGS!) and immediately stepped into a successful sales career at two medical device companies. I am married to Chris, a tech executive and have three children, one boy and two girls, ages 12, 10 and 8, respectively.
When and why did you start L’AVANT Collective?
-Kristi: I always knew I wanted to start and run my own business one day. But I also knew I needed a great business partner. My skill set is business operations. When I met Lindsay 13 years ago I knew I found my match! We both had similar desires to start our own business and when we both hit 40 back in 2018 we decided it was now or never. My personal connection to L’AVANT was when my middle son developed exzcema at 6 months old. I dove into researching what was impacting his skin and learned that most everything I was using in my home and on his skin were harming him due to types of chemicals used in conventional cleaning products, laundry, and even lotions and soaps. Lindsay and I started to DIY our cleaning products and putting them into glass bottles purchased on Amazon. After a recent renovation of our kitchen, I didn’t want ugly bottles on my beautiful new counters. That was the light bulb moment – with moving towards buying organic food and clean beauty products…why couldn’t there be clean home products that looked beautiful on the counter and made you feel good to use?
-Lindsay: For me it began when I was cleaning the floor while pregnant with my first child. I read the label on the back of the floor cleaner, where it cautioned use around animals walking on the wet floor as the product could seep into their paws. But there was no such warning for a baby crawling on the floor!
Throughout many wine filled nights, feeding kids and changing diapers Kristi and I would spit-ball ideas, and we wanted passion behind the idea we brought out to the world. Given where we were in life at the time, the passion centered around our children. We were constantly cleaning up and needed our products to be safe and effective. We were unsatisfied in the performance of the plant-based cleaners at the time and hated how ugly the packaging was. We knew plant-based cleaners could work better and wanted to introduce a product line that actually could fit in the aesthetic of today’s homes. The idea for L’AVANT Collective was born.
Where do you make your products?
-Lindsay and Kristi: We make them at a variety of different co-packers throughout the United States. All orders are then packed and shipped out of Seattle.
How do you source your ingredients?
-Lindsay and Kristi: We thoroughly research every ingredient and supplier of our formulas and continue to not settle for anything less than the high standards we set at the beginning. At L’AVANT, we believe in using plant-based cleaning agents that are derived from renewable sources found in nature, without any harsh chemicals. We meticulously select ingredients such as chamomile leaves, aloe, sunflowers, salt, corn, olive oil, lemons, coconut, and green tea to create our own cleaning products.
Several of our products are EPA Safer Choice certified and USDA Biobased certified. Both of these 3rd party entities validated our ingredients. Our High Performing Laundry Detergent, for example, received a 100% USDA Biobased label which certifies that 100% the product contains a USDA-verified amount of renewable biological ingredients.
What has been your biggest challenge along the way?
-Lindsay and Kristi: Nothing good comes easy, right? We came up with the idea in January of 2018 expecting to pull it together in that year. How little did we know it would take a full three years! We set out to create the highest performing, plant-based cleaning products on the market and come to find out, this is really hard to do! It took us almost two years to get the formulation nailed and then 3rd party lab tested for stability, preservative effectiveness and performance challenged. Finding the right manufacturing, packaging and fragrance partners that were aligned with our mission and would accept us at our low minimums was also very challenging and took a considerable amount of time to establish. It takes time, diligence, and patience.
Then COVID hit. It then felt like we would never make it to market. But we took it one day at a time and kept focused on our goals. When we placed our first packaging and manufacturing purchase order later in 2020 and we knew there was no turning back. It was scary…but in the best way.
What keeps you going?
-Kristi: Our customer base- including our fabulous retailers. I am fueled by the DMs, emails, and phone calls we receive on a daily basis from customers who love the product, want to gift the product and are choosing to share on social media their love for the brand. Seeing our products on the shelves of stores, including my local neighborhood Met Market is so satisfying! There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t hear from someone about how much our products make them feel good and happy. That is an incredible feeling knowing we created something as mundane as cleaning products and are making people feel happy!
-Lindsay: Making a positive impact on our customers, employees and the community is definitely a driving force for what keeps me going. When we originally thought of L’AVANT, Kristi and I selfishly wanted products that solved our problem which was finding beautiful, high performing eco rich products that actually worked.
What are your favorite L’AVANT products?
-Kristi: The multipurpose spray for sure. It’s uses are endless. It truly is a multi-use product that we most recently found out works as an incredible pre-treatment for stains on clothes.
-Lindsay: I love our multipurpose cleaner. Not only is it a powerful cleaner for everyday use on counters, sinks, etc, but it’s also an incredible mirror and glass cleaner. The other product I always recommend is our High Performing Dish Soap. It comes in a custom glass bottle perfect for gifting. The best part about it is that it surprises people to know that it is both eco-friendly and actually works against a sink of hard to clean dirty dishes!”
What’s the most satisfying thing about your job?
-Kristi: Working with the most amazing team that Lindsay and I have built. This small but mighty group (all women!) has decided to come along this crazy ride with us and they work so hard – physically and mentally – to meet our goals. We would not be here today without them.
-Lindsay: In addition to working with Kristi and our incredible team, hearing from our customers and retailers is what brings the most joy to me. We spent the time getting our plant-based formulations right and we get giddy every time a review comes through indicating how surprised or delighted the customer is with the cleaning results.
We think everything about our products sets us apart. From the branding to the formulations to the scent – we have elevated every aspect of the cleaning process. Our products bring joy to the everyday, and that is truly what makes me happy!
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
-Kristi: Find your community and rely heavily on them. We have surrounded ourselves with the most amazing group of entrepreneurs and mentors here in Seattle. We meet regularly to talk about what challenges we are facing and how we can help each other out. We are their biggest cheerleaders, and they are for us. You are not alone in your journey!
-Lindsay: Understand that to create something great, it will take time. There is no easy button. Continue with your vision and you will ultimately succeed. And BE HUMBLE! BE HUNGRY TO LEARN! BE UNCOMFORTABLE! The growth will be something that no one can take away from you.
What’s on the horizon for L’AVANT Collective?
-Kristi: So many fun things including some fun collaborations and launching a new scent line. We really let our customers lead us and listen to what they want to see from us next. We are working on more refills of our core options and expanding into hospitality.
-Lindsay: We are so excited to release our latest signature fragrance, Blushed Bergamot. Ever since our inception, L’AVANT Collective has been defined by its iconic scent. Our signature fragrance, Fresh Linen, has been cherished by our customers, evoking a sense of freshness and purity that has become synonymous with our brand. Additionally, our seasonal offering, Winter Fir, has brought the enchanting aroma of a wintry forest into the homes of our loyal patrons during the holiday season. At L’AVANT Collective, we take pride in our commitment to creating fragrances that not only envelop you in luxury but also resonate with our customers’ preferences. Blushed Bergamot is no exception, and we believe it will become a beloved addition to our collection.
What are your passions outside of work?
-Kristi: My 3 boys. I feel like I’m watching them grow up time-lapse mode. My oldest is 12 and I already feel an ache knowing I only have 6 more summers with him. So I am soaking it all up enjoying watching them grow into who they are, learn and find their passions. They keep me laughing and on my toes. I am happy to be an example for them daily as they watch me up against challenges and figuring out how to solve them.
-Lindsay: My passions outside of work include anything with my husband and kids along with photography, floral design, and estate sale shopping.
How do you keep work/life balance?
-Kristi: Balance doesn’t really happen right now in this growth phase. I rely heavily on my husband and community of friends who help with our kids pickup/drop offs from school and sports. In order to keep up with the pace at which L’AVANT is growing I am prioritizing maintaining a healthy diet, getting exercise at least 4 days a week and sleep. I hope my friends and family know how much I love them and that I will be back to social engagements hopefully soon!